A guide to asbestos
Here's some information to help you understand when you should, and importantly, when you shouldn’t be worried about asbestos.
People often get very worried when they hear the word asbestos, especially when it’s in their home. Sometimes, there are good reasons to be concerned and it should always be treated with respect and caution. But, when dealt with correctly, it’s not something to worry about.
Asbestos is a natural (silicate) mineral found in rock. It used to be widely used in the building industry. It was crushed and added to building materials because it’s strong, flexible and resistant to chemicals and fire. Now there’s a better understanding of the potential health risks, asbestos is no longer used in construction in this country. So if your home was built or refurbished prior to 2000, it's possible it may contain some form of asbestos containing material.
It’s important to remember that generally speaking, asbestos is safe if it isn’t disturbed, as it can’t release fibres into the air. But, activities such as drilling, cutting, sanding and scraping could result in asbestos fibres being released, and this is why you need to be careful.
You can’t tell if a material contains asbestos just by looking at it. Often the material asbestos is added to disguises the asbestos fibres and the only way to confirm asbestos is by testing the material in a specialist laboratory.
Things to remember about asbestos
- Don't drill, saw, scrub or sand anything you think may contain asbestos.
- Asbestos doesn't usually pose a risk unless it's damaged or disturbed.
- It’s often best to leave asbestos-containing products where they are, if they're in good condition and unlikely to be disturbed.
- There's no evidence to suggest that the use of asbestos cement in cold water tanks poses any risk of contaminating the water supply.
What we do about asbestos
We don’t hold asbestos information on all of our properties, only on those where an asbestos survey has been completed. These surveys take place when a property becomes empty or before we carry out any major projects like new kitchens and bathrooms.
After the survey has been completed, if asbestos is found we’ll do one of the following
- If the type, location and condition of the asbestos is considered a high risk, we’ll arrange for the removal of the material.
- If the type, location and condition of the asbestos is considered a much lower risk, we may not remove it. We’ll record its location.
- We’ll inspect the material from time to time to monitor any changes and take action if necessary. If we need to remove asbestos from your home we’ll keep you informed about the work and what needs to be done to ensure your safety.
As your landlord, it’s our responsibility to contain or remove asbestos from your home when it’s considered unsafe to leave it there. Please don’t try to remove or disturb items which you think could contain asbestos yourself. Call us on 0800 195 5515 for advice.
Please remember you mustn’t make any changes to your home (including garages and out houses) without checking to see if written permission is needed, or checking to see what restrictions there are around the type of work you’re planning. Information on when you might need this can be found here.
You, or the people you employed to do work in your home, must be aware of the risks of disturbing asbestos. This is one of the conditions attached to any permission we grant to carry out work to your home. If you don’t do this, you may be putting yourself and others at risk of asbestos exposure and you may also have to pay the costs incurred for dealing with any asbestos incidents.
- Don’t drill, saw, scrub or sand anything that may contain asbestos. This includes doing things like putting up curtain rails or pictures.
- Don’t dust, sweep or vacuum debris that may contain asbestos. If you discover any fibres that your believe to be asbestos, please call us as soon as possible on 0800 195 5515.
- Take every precaution to avoid damaging asbestos material or asbestos containing products.
- Don’t try to remove old floor tiles or linoleum. Leave them in place and lay new floor coverings over them.
If you buy your property from us, then you’ll become responsible for any asbestos containing materials in your home.