As a landlord you have a moral and legal obligation to ensure that the properties you lease are safe and secure. If you own a house that was built prior to 1988 there is a very high chance that it contains asbestos. While this isn't necessarily cause for alarm, it's something that you should assess with close scrutiny.

What Risk Does it Pose to Your Tenants?

Exposure to asbestos can cause lung cancer, mesothelioma, pleural plaque and other other health issues that could be very dangerous, possibly even fatal. The risk of developing asbestos-related problems usually depends on the amount of fibres that have been inhaled. If a tenant suffers from a problem as a direct result of the material within your property, you could be held responsible.

How Can You Identify Asbestos?

Undisturbed asbestos presents little risk to human health as the fibres are securely bound together. However, weathering and construction can cause even the most robust building materials to weaken and present an exposure risk. You cannot determine whether or not a building material has asbestos just by looking at it. It can only be identified through careful examination under a microscope. This process must be undertaken by an asbestos analyst. If you've had recent building works or are worried about the condition of your property, get a professional inspection before you let any tenants move in.

If you've had an asbestos inspection, you are legally required to provide your tenants with the results from the Inspection Report alongside the lease agreement. If you can't provide this documentation, you must provide health and safety advice instead, and may have to pay for an inspection report if the tenant wants the property to be assessed.

What Are The Financial Implications?

If asbestos fibres are found while a tenant is living in your property, you should stop the tenant from using the room and promptly fix the damage. Your tenants are legally entitled to apply to their local tribunal for a rent reduction or, if the property is no longer habitable, to end the tenancy agreement if you don't sort out the problem a timely manner or come up with a suitable agreement. You may also be ordered to compensate your tenants for "economic loss" if the asbestos damages their belongings or their health. Tenants must, however, back up their claims with evidence.

Only licensed asbestos removal services are legally permitted dispose of asbestos. If you find it, never try to remove it yourself. This could not only be hazardous, but could have legal repercussions. To ensure your actions comply with the rules, read Health (Asbestos) Regulations 1992 or contact asbestos removal companies.