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Asbestos in Rented Accommodation

Asbestos is a potentially harmful substance that was used as a building material from the 1950s to the 1980s, and is now banned. Any building built before the year 2000 may contain asbestos.

According the HSE (Health and Safety Executive), asbestos is safe as long as it is maintained in a good condition. However, if it gets damaged it can produce tiny dust particles which, if inhaled, can cause asbestosis, lung cancer, and mesothelioma.

It is classified as a hazard under the Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS).

Where might there be asbestos?

Some of the areas in a property where there might be asbestos are:

  • eaves, gutters and rainwater fall pipes
  • fire blankets
  • garage and shed roofs
  • linings for walls, ceilings and doors
  • insulation panels in some storage heaters
  • bath panels
  • central heating flues
  • loose asbestos packing between floors and in partition walls
  • floor tiles

If a landlord or tenant suspects that asbestos is present, they can ask their local authority to test for it. The testing will discover whether or not asbestos is present, and what condition it is in.

Landlords' Duties Regarding Asbestos

The landlord of a tenanted property has a legal responsibility to manage the risk associated with any asbestos present in the property. Depending on the condition of the asbestos, one or more of the following actions should be taken:

  • Labelling the asbestos
  • Sealing the asbestos
  • Removing the asbestos

Great care should be taken when doing any work around asbestos. The HSE or your local authority can give detailed advice about safe procedures. Any work done on the asbestos that takes longer than 2 hours must be done by someone who is licensed by the HSE (Health and Safety Executive).

If you are a worried tenant you can learn about repairing obligations for landlords here.