What is asbestos?
Asbestos is a naturally occurring material made up of lots of small fibres. Because asbestos is very strong, flexible and resistant to heat and chemicals, it was used in a wide range of building materials and products between the 1930s and 1980s.
If your home was built during that period, the chances of there being Asbestos Containing Materials (ACMs) in your home will exist. However, owing to health concerns over its use, properties built since the mid 1980s are very unlikely to contain asbestos.
When can asbestos become a problem?
Any asbestos containing material that is undamaged should not present a health risk. However, if these materials deteriorate with age or are damaged (for example drilled, sawn, scrubbed or sanded), they can release asbestos fibres into the air. Breathing in high levels of these fibres can cause damage to your health, particularly your lungs where the fibres can cause cancer and thickening of the lungs.
The general rule is: if asbestos containing materials are in good condition leave them alone!
It is unlikely that the levels of asbestos containing materials in your home will be harmful but you must seek advice on what action to take if you think asbestos is present, especially if you or anyone else is planning to undertake DIY work as this is likely to agitate ACMs and release asbestos fibres into the air.
The greater the exposure, the greater the risk – but it is important to remember: THERE IS NO SAFE EXPOSURE.
Where might you find asbestos in the home?
There are three main types of asbestos that may be found in housing:
- blue asbestos (crocidolite)
- brown asbestos (amosite)
- white asbestos (chrysotile)
The diagram below shows the most common places asbestos may be found in a home (this list is not exhaustive).
Asbestos was also used in some heat-resistant household products such as oven gloves and ironing boards but the use of asbestos in most products was banned in 1993.
Some textured coatings (commonly known as Artex) contain asbestos fibres. They are normally well bonded and the fibres are not easily released. Newer types of textured coatings do not contain asbestos but these and older versions look the same.
Therefore, where you have a textured coating in your home: DO NOT attempt to remove, sand, scrape, wire brush, drill, etc. yourself – contact us for advice.
Identifying asbestos materials
It is impossible to tell whether a material contains asbestos just by looking at it. This can only be confirmed by a laboratory test. Since 1976 British manufacturers have put labels on their products to show that they contain asbestos and since 1986 all European products containing asbestos carry a special European label.
What you should do if you suspect there is asbestos in your home?
If you are in any doubt about the presence or condition of asbestos in your home, please contact us for advice. Do not panic if there is asbestos in your home - it is usually only a problem when it is damaged, disturbed or deteriorates with age. You should never remove or work on (e.g. DIY, sanding) asbestos materials. If you are unsure if a material contains asbestos it is safer to presume it does and do not tamper with it, seek advice.
Where it is necessary to remove asbestos materials you must contact us. Never attempt to remove asbestos materials from your home yourself or put asbestos materials in wheelie bins. This work must be carried out by a contractor with a special licence issued by the government. They must follow strict regulations to make sure that asbestos is removed and disposed of safely.
If you want to carry out any home improvements that may disturb an asbestos containing material you must contact us for permission to ensure that proper controls are in place to reduce potential exposure to you, your family and the person carrying out the work (if not yourself). If anyone is carrying out work for you in your home, you must make them aware of the existence of any asbestos materials in your house.
If you carry out any work or permit others to carry out work without written approval from us, you will be liable for any costs of dealing with any asbestos incidents.
Leaseholders and shared owners are responsible for all fixtures and fittings within their property. Items you believe contain asbestos should be left in place and not disturbed if in good condition. However, if you decide to remove asbestos materials we would advise you contact an asbestos removal contractor licensed by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) to carry out any removal.
Do not panic if you have asbestos in your home. It is only a problem if it becomes damaged or disturbed
Do not damage or remove materials containing asbestos
Do not sand down or scrape Artex or insulating boards
Do not drill or cut asbestos materials, dust or vacuum debris that may also contain asbestos
Do not try to remove old floor tiles. Leave them in place and lay new floor coverings over them
What are our responsibilities as your landlord?
We acknowledge the serious health hazards associated with exposure to asbestos fibres and accept our responsibility under current and future legislation to protect our tenants and any other persons who may be exposed to asbestos in our properties.
We are committed to making sure that all materials containing asbestos in your home are safe and have an Asbestos Management Policy which sets out how we identify and manage asbestos in our premises. We hold a list of properties where asbestos has been found or is believed to exist which is updated when we survey our properties to locate any materials suspected to contain asbestos.
It is not reasonable or necessary to remove all asbestos materials from every building. Asbestos containing material that is undamaged and in good condition will remain where it is and its condition reviewed. This is fully in line with current government policy and the law.
Asbestos containing materials that are slightly damaged can sometimes be repaired by sealing or enclosing the material. Never try to do this yourself. Contact us and we will make the necessary arrangements.
Any asbestos containing materials that are badly damaged or deteriorating will be removed by a licensed asbestos removal contractor. If you think you have any materials that fall under this category please contact us.
Where major projects are being undertaken, tenants and leaseholders are formally consulted as a group and advised on the full process such as how the asbestos will be removed and, if necessary, what precautions are needed and for how long. Leaseholders must make their own arrangements for removal unless the work is part of a major project.
Asbestos should never be put into wheelie bins. You must seek advice from us about making arrangements for collection and/ or disposal at a designated site.
Updated: 17 July 2020
Review date: July 2021