Why Asbestos is an issue Landlords need to know about?
The Health and Safety at Work (Asbestos) Regulations 2016 states that if Asbestos is in the workplace, a plan is required for that workplace by the 4th April 2018.
Mostly found in many building materials used between 1950 to 2000 if the material containing Asbestos is breaking down in any way (dust particles) or activity is occurring on the property that will disturb that material, then Asbestos is a serious health hazard.
The airborne contamination standard for Asbestos is an average concentration over any eight hour period of 0.1 respirable Asbestos fibres per milliliter of air.
What does all this mean for landlords and tenants alike?
At the moment no one can give a conclusive answer and the industry as a whole is waiting for more guidance from WorkSafe. So, we have done our own research to try and give you some clarity.
At Pedersens Property Management we work with some of the industry’s leading experts to ensure that we are getting the best advice on complex matters like this. We are also members of REINZ who will be providing more information in the near future. But for now, we will try to answer some of the questions that you as a landlord need to be aware of. Please be aware that this is an opinion from an expert who studies the industry and legislative changes such as this.
As a Landlord am I responsible?
In short, yes, you will have some responsibility to comply. As a landlord you are a PCBU – (person conducting a business or undertaking). This also includes Pedersen’s as a Property Management company. Both have a responsibility to manage the risk of Asbestos and both have a ‘duty of care’ to tenants and other occupants of the property and must take reasonably practicable steps to comply with this Act. Fines for not complying with the new legislation can potentially be as much as $50,000.
Is my rental property a workplace?
This is a much more complex question. A rental property becomes a workplace once workers or PCBUs operate or enter the property. When the property is just being occupied by the tenant it is not a workplace, so the Act only becomes relevant to landlords once contractors go onto the property or if major works are being planned such as renovations or major repairs.
What do I need to do in identifying and testing for Asbestos?
If your rental property is built between the years of 1950 and 2000 and you are planning on undertaking major repairs or renovations then you will need to carry out an Asbestos Management Plan prior to this work being undertaken.
To do this we would strongly recommend that you engage the services of a certified Asbestos professional who can assess the risk and if required take samples to be tested in an IANZ accredited laboratory.
If the presence of Asbestos is confirmed in your rental property then a written Asbestos Management Plan must be put into place and given to the occupant, the home owner and any PCBU going on to the property.
What if my rental property has Asbestos and it has been deemed stable?
If the Asbestos Contaminated Material is undisturbed and in a good stable condition then it is perfectly safe. It is only if there is damage then we will need to take steps.
My rental property has Asbestos has been deemed unsafe, what next?
Options may be available of sealing it, encasing it or removing it completely. The work must be undertaken by a licensed professional. Once completed a clearance inspection must be carried out. The tenant must be informed and advised of any requirements to temporarily vacate the property to ensure the occupant’s safety, the tenant must continue to pay rent but alternative accommodation must be arranged and paid for by the landlord.
Does this legislation effect my own home?
This only effects PCBU’s. If you are doing work on your own home then no plan is required. However, our advice would be to carry out the same steps as if it was your rental property.
As we stated early, we are still awaiting official best practice recommendations from WorkSafe and REINZ but we cannot ignore our responsibility. Hopefully, this will help you in any decisions that you make to help keep you safe from litigation and protect your current or future tenants.
For further information regarding Asbestos and your rental property please visit www.asbestosaware.co.nz or watch the below video.