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Landlords need to be aware of their health and safety responsibilities – including how asbestos is managed at their properties.
Residential landlords are PCBUs (persons conducting a business or undertaking) under the Health and Safety at Work Act. They must manage any asbestos-related risks when work is taking place at their property. This is to ensure the health and safety of tenants, neighbors, contractors and anyone else who may be affected.
Asbestos was a common building material up until the 80s, but it may be present in buildings built or renovated before 2000.
As a landlord, you may not have to remove asbestos from your property but you will need to manage any related risks. For example, if contractors are carrying out repairs, this could disturb material that contains asbestos.
If a landlord plans to do work such as refurbishment or demolition, they need to ensure that asbestos relating to the work’s location is identified and removed, where reasonably practicable. This must happen before any work starts.
When work at a property includes a risk of exposure to respirable asbestos, the relevant asbestos must be identified and an asbestos management plan prepared. A landlord may write the asbestos management plan themselves, or they may employ someone else to do it. If the asbestos is non-friable and in good condition it’s often safer to leave it undisturbed, if the work taking place is routine maintenance or other minor work.
The landlord needs to work with the other PCBUs involved (such as building contractors) to ensure the plan is followed. They also need to inform their tenants about the asbestos and what they need to do to keep safe while the work takes place.