What is the law relating to asbestos in domestic properties?

Owner-occupiers of a domestic property are not legally responsible for risks to builders from asbestos. Instead, their only task is to make sure they hire competent trades people with the required know-how to carry out improvements, repairs or maintenance to their house.

Homeowners should tell them, before they start, if there is asbestos present.

The general duties in Section 3 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 apply to protect residents from danger to their health and safety while work is done. 

Where that activity involves asbestos-containing materials (ACMs), then the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 also applies, and the obligation to follow them is on the contractor.

Are you a residential building owner or landlord?

The Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 place a 'duty to manage' asbestos on anyone who has control over the maintenance and repair of non-domestic premises. In practice, this means all workplaces that may contain asbestos.

Although the duty is not relevant for residential properties like private houses, it does apply to the communal areas of multi-occupancy such as purpose built apartments or houses converted into flats.

These can include:

  • Corridors
  • Entrance hall
  • Stairwells and staircases
  • Lifts and lift shafts
  • Roof spaces
  • Gardens
  • Outhouses
  • Garages or covered car parks

However, it would not cover the individual flats themselves.

The Health and Safety Executive lays out general principles for managing and working with asbestos, including clear and accurate records of the location, type and condition of any ACMs, as well as assessment of the risk to anybody that is exposed to them.

It is important that any contractors hired to do building maintenance or repairs have this information.

They should be aware of the materials that contain asbestos, and of the need to inform the appropriate person if they discover or disturb any not previously identified. 

While no 'duty to manage' under this regulation falls on the landlords of rented homes, striving to maintain the same standards is best practice. 

Who needs asbestos awareness training?

According to the Health and Safety Executive, every employer must ensure anybody likely to encounter asbestos while working, or an individual that supervises those employees, receives an appropriate level of training so they can work safely and without risk.

Asbestos awareness training is part of that education. 

Courses by the Asbestos Awareness Certificate Company are for workers that may disturb asbestos - or an item that might contain it.