Asbestos Survey

22/02/2019
Asbestos prohibition laws in the UK were first introduced in the mid-1980s and in 1985 the UK banned the import and use of blue (crocidolite) and brown (amosite) asbestos and its use was fully banned in 1999.

This means if your property was built 1980's and older, it could contain asbestos and indeed, landlords are often advised to assume that asbestos is present in all pre-2000 buildings.

How dangerous is Asbestos?

According to some estimates, between 3500 and 4000 die every year from asbestos-related diseases in the UK and by the year 2020 it is predicted that 625,000 deaths directly related to asbestos exposure will have occurred.


For prospective residential home buyers, both the RICS surveys (Level 3 : Building Survey and the Level 2: HomeBuyer Report) will flag up signs of asbestos, however if you know there is asbestos then you should go straight for getting an Asbestos Survey. This survey physically tests the suspect material, whereas a RICS surveyor does not test during their inspection.

An asbestos survey is an intrusive inspection where a specialist surveyor, wearing protective clothing, removes samples of the suspected asbestos to take away for further analysis.

In the report the surveyor states the type or types of asbestos found, how it can be removed and, depending on the survey provider, give an estimate of how much removal will cost.

Asbestos can be highly dangerous: inhalation of asbestos dust can result in lethal health conditions including lung cancer, mesothelioma and asbestos. You are well advised to book an asbestos survey if your home buyers survey advises you to do so.

Update Feb 2019: we've added a new section which examines matters relating to freeholders/landlords/managing agents and asbestos surveys (how do the legal requirements differ, if at all, compared to domestic home owners etc.).

For freeholders, asbestos surveys/asbestos risk assessments and fire risk assessments, particularly at the beginning of a change of ownership, run together, with an asbestos survey done before a fire risk assessment of flats as best practice because the latter might accidentally result in a highly dangerous disturbance of existing asbestos in a building.

In this article we examine:





Worried about Asbestos?

Whether you're looking to buy a flat - or looking to buy a block of flats - if you have concerns about asbestos you can get an Asbestos Survey to clarify what your risk is and what action, if any, needs to be taken (and if you're looking to buy a flat block, getting a survey, depending on the age of the block, might be a legal requirement).

*BOHS Qualified Surveyors – Same Week Availability - National Coverage - Reports within 5 Working Days - Terms Apply
Want help now? Call us on 0333 344 3234 (local call charges apply)


Panel of regulated Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors Surveyors, local knowledge and at competitive prices.

 
    1

    What is Asbestos?

What is asbestos? It is a naturally occurring fibrous mineral. It was a commonly used building material, particularly as part of cement products, floor tiles and roofing shingles where its durability and resistance to heat were highly valued.

The strength and microscopic nature of its fibres however make it very dangerous when inhaled, with the potential to cause life threatening ailments which sometimes take some years to show symptoms.

Whether any action needs to be taken - for example, complete removal by specialists - depends on the type of asbestos detected, its volume and whether dust particles are likely to be liberated, for example by renovation/decoration at some future point.

There are six different types of asbestos of which crocidolite, or blue asbestos, is considered the most hazardous.

The six types of asbestos are:

  • Chrysotile
  • Crocidolite
  • Amosite
  • Tremolite
  • Anthophyllite
  • Actinolite

    2

    What are the different Asbestos Survey types?

There are now two asbestos types although there used to be 3. The types of survey are called - Type 1, Type 2 and Type 3, but these have been reclassified and absorbed into Management Surveys (Type 1 Asbestos Survey) and Refurbishment and Demolition Surveys (Type 2 Asbestos Survey). You need to decide whether you are looking to maintain the asbestos so as not to cause damage to it and release the dangerous fibres into the air or if you are looking to get the asbestos removed entirely (normally because you are completing building works).

Type 1 Asbestos Survey - Management Survey

After an intrusive investigation, a management survey gives direction on how to protect against any risk without any major removal of asbestos.

Type 2 Asbestos Survey - Refurbishment and Demolition Surveys

After a detailed, intrusive investigation and a comprehensive assessment, these surveys give directions about where asbestos detected has to be removed or whether it can be managed.


    3

    What is the cost for getting an Asbestos Survey?

The cost of an asbestos survey depends on a few factors, particularly on the size of the property. The costs range from £399 for a standard construction 2 bedroom property and progress upwards from here.

The cost of an asbestos survey for a freeholder/landlord/managing agent of leasehold flats varies according to many factors, particularly the extent of the block/s and the type of flats involved.


    4

    How does the treatment of asbestos and asbestos surveys, differ for freeholders of leasehold flat blocks, landlords and managing agents?


Who is responsible for managing asbestos matters in flat blocks?

The person responsible for managing the maintenance and repair of common areas in buildings containing flats bears the legal responsibility to manage safety matters regarding asbestos.

This would therefore normally be a Responsible Person appointed by the managing agent on behalf of the landlord/freeholder or the Right to Manage company and they are legally required to be competent.

Their essential duty is to carry out a robust asbestos risk assessment of the areas they are legally required to (see below), to write this up, act on any action points made, store it and review it regularly.

It is a criminal offence if they are found to be negligent in doing this; for example if a managing agent hires a contractor to repair a porch and the contractor ends up disturbing asbestos which was not previously noted in the assessment, the landlord can expect a large fine and/or imprisonment.

This requirement is in the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 however, it applies only to common areas. However, common areas can be quite extensive, including:
  • Foyers
  • Corridors
  • Lifts and lift shafts
  • Staircases
  • Boiler and plant rooms
  • Store rooms
  • Roof spaces
  • Gardens
  • Yards
  • Outbuildings
  • Garages
  • Sheds
  • Bike shelters
However, common areas within one private residence shared by more than one household, e.g. bathrooms and kitchens in shared houses and communal lounges, are not included.

The duty on them is to find out whether the premises contain asbestos and if so where it is and what condition it is in, to assess the risk and to make a plan to manage the risk and act on it.

Additionally, under Regulation 4 of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2006, landlords have duties towards their tenants to minimise the risks of exposure to asbestos.

Asbestos regulations are enforced by the Health and Safety Executive (click to find out more) and local authorities.

Did you know?

According to the HSE website, any building prior to 2000 could contain asbestos: the material was used extensively as a building material between the 1950s and 1980s.


Recovery of the cost of the survey and necessary work resulting from this is based on similar principles as set out above for fire safety. The lease may specifically allow for recovery as a service charge, or the freeholder may be able to bring the cost within what is known as a "sweeping up clause".

It is beneficial to leaseholders to have these checks because on sale of a flat, the buyer's solicitors will ask for confirmation that a risk assessment has been carried out for fire safety and asbestos as a matter of course and ask to see evidence of this. It may cause a problem with a sale if this is not available.

As a general rule, landlords should assume that any building built prior to 2000 might contain asbestos.

What does the Health and Safety Executive expect of landlords regarding asbestos (asbestos risk assessment)?

The HSE broadly expects the following:
  • Find out if asbestos is present at the premises
  • Presume material is asbestos until proved otherwise
  • Survey and sample for asbestos
  • Assess the condition of the asbestos containing material
  • Record where the asbestos or presumed asbestos is and its condition. Put together a drawing or plan of its location.
  • Assess the potential risk of the asbestos and whether it’s likely to be damaged or disturbed
  • Decide what to do
  • Take appropriate action
  • Check what's been done
  • Monitor and review effectiveness of plan
Only specialists should handle asbestos. If it's identified on site, what should happen then depends on what state it's in.

If it's in good condition, then:
  • It should be continue to be monitored at regular intervals
  • It should be labelled where practical
  • All contractors or workers who might be likely to disturb any asbestos must be informed of its actual and possible presence
It the asbestos has had minor damage:
  • The material should be repaired and stabilised/encapsulated
  • It should continue to be monitored
  • It should be labelled where practical
  • All contractors or workers who might be likely to disturb any asbestos must be informed of its actual and possible presence
If the asbestos is in poor condition it should be removed and safely disposed of by appropriate professionals and it's likely to be disturbed it should be similarly removed.

Call to get a quote for your property - 0333 344 3234 (local call charges apply)

We help clients whether they are based in London, Surrey, Berkshire or anywhere in the Home Counties.

Worried about Asbestos?

Whether you're looking to buy a flat - or looking to buy a block of flats - if you have concerns about asbestos you can get an Asbestos Survey to clarify what your risk is and what action, if any, needs to be taken (and if you're looking to buy a flat block, getting a survey, depending on the age of the block, might be a legal requirement).

*BOHS Qualified Surveyors – Same Week Availability - National Coverage - Reports within 5 Working Days - Terms Apply
Want help now? Call us on 0333 344 3234 (local call charges apply)


Related News Articles

 
Fire Risk Assessment for Flats
15/03/2019
What is a Load Bearing Wall?
03/01/2019
What is Rising Damp?
22/09/2017
new-conveyancing-process.png

FREE Online Conveyancing Process for Buyers

Includes online checklists, videos, downloads and tips - plus it is free to use and remembers your progress.