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The construction industry has witnessed numerous innovations and materials over the years. Two such materials, Reinforced Autoclaved Aerated Concrete (RAAC) and asbestos, have been in recent headline news due to their implications on health and safety, especially in educational institutions.

Who Is Responsible For Asbestos in a Commercial Property?

Asbestos management in commercial properties is a critical concern due to the severe health risks associated with asbestos exposure. The responsibility for managing asbestos lies with several parties depending on the property’s ownership and occupancy structure. Understanding who is responsible for managing asbestos in commercial properties is crucial to ensure safety and compliance with the law.

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Legal Regulations Surrounding Asbestos Management

In the UK, the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 is the primary legal framework governing asbestos management.

The “Duty To Manage” asbestos regulation requires dutyholders, typically the property owners or employers, to assess and manage the risks from asbestos in non-domestic premises.

Dutyholders are the individuals legally responsible for managing asbestos in a building. This would include building owners, landlords, or any person or organisation tasked with the maintenance or repair of the building.

Dutyholders are required to safeguard individuals from asbestos exposure risks. This includes those who work within these buildings and also those who access them for other purposes.

If there is no tenancy agreement or contract, or the premises are unoccupied, the person in control of the premises is responsible for the management of asbestos.

What Are The Legal Duties of Responsibility?

The “duty to manage” asbestos requires the duty holder to manage the following.

  • Identify asbestos containing materials (ACMs) with the help of asbestos surveys to locate and record the presence, condition, location and extent of any asbestos or asbestos-containing materials within the building.
  • Assess the risks posed by the presence of asbestos and ACMs, considering factors such as the location, condition, and likelihood of disturbance.
  • Develop and implement an asbestos management plan to ensure they are safely maintained, how materials will be safely maintained, monitored, or removed. While ensuring that any necessary information about the presence of asbestos is communicated to anyone liable to work on or disturb it.
  • Regularly review and monitor the plan to ensure it remains relevant and current.

Who is responsible for managing asbestos, tenant or landlord?

The “duty to manage” asbestos applies to all non-domestic premises, including industrial, commercial, and public buildings, as well as ‘common’ areas in purpose-built flats or houses converted into flats. These common areas encompass foyers, corridors, lifts, and stairs, among others.

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Who is responsible for managing asbestos, tenant or landlord?

The responsibility for asbestos management within commercial properties can fall on both the property owner and the tenant, depending on the contract, lease or tenancy agreements.

If the lease agreement states that the owner has sole responsibility for the premises, or the common part of multi-occupied buildings, the duty of management will fall to the owner. This tends to be the most common setup, but in every scenario should be confirmed before taking any action.

If tenants (including employers or occupiers) are listed as responsible for alterations, repairs and maintenance under a tenancy agreement or contract, the tenant or tenants in multi-occupancy premises are responsible for the management of asbestos.

Duties of Property Owners & Landlords in Asbestos Management

In the case that property owners bear the primary responsibility for the management of asbestos in their buildings.

It’s worth noting that landlords are not required to conduct an asbestos survey before leasing a property. Unlike an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC), which is mandatory, arranging an asbestos survey is not a prerequisite for landlords when letting a property. The sole obligation for landlords under the Regulations is to fulfil their responsibilities as the ‘duty holder.’

The Role of Tenants in Asbestos Management

The role of tenants in managing asbestos can vary significantly based on their lease agreements.

In some cases, especially in leases where tenants have control over alterations or are responsible for specific maintenance tasks, the responsibility for managing asbestos may be transferred from the owner to the tenant.

In such scenarios, tenants must comply with the same legal requirements as property owners, ensuring that any ACMs within the premises are safely managed and that any risk of exposure is minimised.

Tenants must coordinate with the building owner to access existing asbestos records and integrate any new findings into the broader building management plan.

Responsibilities Shared Between Landlord and Tenants

It’s not uncommon for both tenants and property owners to share responsibilities for asbestos management, particularly in complex commercial environments with multiple stakeholders.

This shared approach requires clear communication and coordination to ensure compliance with health and safety regulations. Both parties must work together to ensure that the management, control, and communication regarding ACMs are handled seamlessly, thereby safeguarding the health of all occupants and workers within the building.

Legal Implications

Both parties must understand the legal implications of failing to properly manage asbestos. Non-compliance can lead to severe penalties, including fines and legal action, not to mention the potential health risks to individuals exposed to asbestos fibres.

Therefore, it’s vital for both property owners and tenants to clearly define and execute their responsibilities concerning asbestos management, ensuring all legal standards are met and the property remains safe for occupancy.

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Contact Fibre Safe Today

If you are a tenant or a landlord, and you would like confirmation of your legal standing when it comes to the management of asbestos in a commercial property, please give one of our team here at Fibre Safe a call on 0800 458 4136 or send us a message here.

We’ll be more than happy to help guide you, and if needed, help provide any asbestos training needed, or provide asbestos surveys, removal, and management plans for your commercial premises.


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