Much Ado About Asbestos

Recently I attended an Asbestos Seminar that directly related to rental properties.

It is an area of property management that has bubbled away in the back ground …. until now. It has come to the foreground …. with vengeance.

With reference to the Work Place Health and Safety Regulation 2011 as property managers we are required to ensure a safe work place is provided to all contractors who visit the property to carry out maintenance.

In brief, all properties (including units) built before 2004 must have an asbestos register & audit carried out. This report must then be available to every Contractor who carries out any work at the property.

The register will indicate every room inside and all external areas that may or may not contain asbestos.

We heard about an incident where a Landlord innocently, or so he thought, instructed his property manager to have the roof of his rental property pressure cleaned and then sealed to prolong the life of the roof.

The property manager arranged the work through their general maintenance company to carry out the work and then had the roof sealed.

A neighbour of the property reported the work to the local authority who then had an obligation to inform the office of Work Place Health and Safety who shut the site down.

What no one recognised was the asbestos in the roof and as asbestos is air borne the whole street had to be evacuated, the site properly cleaned up and heavy fines and penalites applied to the Owner, the Property Manager and the Contractor all of whom did not abide by the Health Regulations and they did not take into consideration that no one had the knowledge of what was required.

The clean up cost alone that had to be borne by the Owner of the property was $30,000. This did not include the fines incurred as a result.

Asbestos is in more areas than I knew possible. I am only just learning where it can appear i.e. doors, vinyl floors, paint and wood particals.

The seminar was just over 2 hours and the most important message I got from it was the health implications should we chose to play the ignorance card.

Asbestos Registers and Audits is only a new concept to me but I have learnt that we cannot delay in getting these reports together. I have ordered them on the most obvious properties we have that are 20 years plus and unfortunately for you as the owner, it is not an option of IF. It is a matter of WHEN.

As we only engage Contractors who are registered and insured we must also provide them with a work place that meets the strict Health and Safety Regulations. In doing so we must provide them with this register. Their insurance must also indicate that they are covered for working in asbestos effected areas. If it doesn’t we must then seek another Contractor.

The cost of these reports vary considerably from being individual units, to unit blocks to houses internal and external.

We are wading our way through the mountains of legislation and paperwork to ensure that our Clients are covered combining Tenancy Legislation with Health and Safety Legislation.

If we have not yet contacted you regarding having an Asbestos report carried out it will only be a matter of time.


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