The Facts on Asbestos for Residential Landlords

The Facts on Asbestos for Residential Landlords

Under the Health & Safety at Work Act 2015 (HSWA) residential landlords and Property Managers are considered a Person Conducting a Business or Undertaking or PCBU and as a result must ensure that, when work is carried out at their property, it is done safely and without endangering workers or others, including tenants. Landlords (and Property Managers) must identify asbestos in the workplace and document plans for managing its risks in an asbestos management plan, if there is risk of exposure to respirable asbestos fibres.

As a PCBU you have a duty to identify asbestos and prepare an asbestos management plan for work involving a risk of exposure to respirable asbestos fibres. The risk of exposure depends on the kind of work you’re planning to do and can include, repair work,  renovations, refurbishments or demolition.

Buildings constructed prior to Jan 1st 2000 have a High to Medium risk of containing Asbestos Material and must be investigated in accordance with current regulations

So what are my options ?

  1. Proactively have properties surveyed, and if needed have asbestos managed or removed.
  2. Wait until refurbishment/building work is needed and the have the property surveyed at that point (any work involving a risk of exposure to respirable asbestos fibres).

The downside of taking a reactive approach is you simply can’t control when an event is going to occur which forces you to react, these events are varied and totally unpredictable .

And more often than not, the cost of compliance would have been a tiny fraction of what is spent cleaning up the mess.

Proper consideration should be given to the true cost of:

  • Lost rental income
  • Temporary accommodation
  • Rent rebates
  • Work completed under urgency or temporary work
  • Loss of good tenants
  • Council / WorkSafe imposed fines
  • Reputational damage

So how do you know who to trust with the job of giving you advice on this complex subject ? – Here is our general advice

  • Don’t work with providers who can’t demonstrate BOHS IP402 or IP404 Asbestos qualifications, with appropriate experience and supervision.
  • Consultants should have no-conflict of interest (don’t provide consulting & removal services)
  • Providers should have comprehensive Asbestos Specific Insurances
  • Consultants (and PCBU’s) must have samples analysed by an Accredited Laboratory (IANZ or WorkSafe Approved equivalent)
  • If in doubt, don’t hesitate in getting a second opinion in writing

What are the risks involved with non-compliance?

Quite honesty this is scary stuff  – There are significant fines in place where a PCBU is prosecuted for failing to honour their obligations and these can be placed on both an individual and business. Penalties range from $50K-$3M in Fines, with up to 5yrs Prison

Where do I Start ? 

Talk to our team for general information relating to Asbestos and other compliance matters  – You can also speak with your property Manager (if you have one) they  are a great place to start and also have a network of trusted consultants and partners who can assist when needed

For more information on Asbestos Click here