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Landlord responsibilities | Asbestos in the home | removal of asbestos | asbestos removal auckland
Learn what is a Landlord’s responsibilities If you suspect asbestos on your rental property and find out what you need to do to protect the tenants and tradespeople in your home and safely manage removal of asbestos.

New legal obligations for residential landlords and body corporates came into effect last April as part of the Health and Safety at Work Act (HSWA). The Act applies when it comes to having any work done on a property, and includes important new regulations around asbestos safety and Removal of asbestos.

Almost one year after the HSWA became law, there is still much uncertainty among landlords as to exactly what they are accountable for and what they are required to do. Landlords and Body corporates who don’t fully understand their obligations and breach the law risk legal complications and substantial fines.

Lawyer Aaron Martin warns property owners: “Landlords need to be more vigilant about their properties and realize that asbestos is a serious health and safety issue. WorkSafe New Zealand engages with property owners to educate them about their new responsibilities, but if the regulations are neglected or breached repeatedly, prosecution will be enforced.”

It’s essential that you know and understand your responsibilities.

Why does legislation about health and safety at work affect me as a residential landlord?

The Health and Safety at Work Act (HSWA) applies to all business activities. Residential rentals are considered a business, so the Act applies (section 20). Under the regulations, landlords of rental premises become a Person in Charge of a Business or Undertaking (PCBU), and must follow the laws for that role.

However, the Act applies to a residential rental property only while it is a place of work (e.g., from the time a tradesperson enters the premises to carry out repair work until the time the work finishes).

Most of the time your rental is a home, not a place of work, and in those periods there are no HSWA obligations on the landlord. But as soon as a tradesperson steps foot onto your property, it becomes regarded as a workplace and your legal obligations kick in.

What does this mean in practice? What am I accountable for?

Landlords  and Body Corporates are responsible for ensuring the health and safety of anyone involved with or affected by work on your property (including any tenants). In the result of any incident you are liable.

This includes specific responsibilities around asbestos. Any time a tradesperson such as an electrician or a plumber enters the property to undertake work, you are responsible for any safety issues that may result from existing asbestos.

For example, what if a plumber needs to drill a new hole behind the toilet, or an electrician wants to insert a new light fixture in the ceiling? If your house was built between 1940 and 2000, there is a reasonable likelihood that this wall or this ceiling may contain asbestos. Any such activity has the potential to dislodge harmful asbestos fibres and cause serious health issues.

Can’t I just rely on my property manager?

You cannot contract out of your obligations under the HSWA, or assume that your property manager will take on the responsibilities of the regulations. It’s up to you to establish and maintain proper oversight of any work being undertaken onsite to make sure health and safety is being maintained. If you suspect you have asbestos in your property, you must inform the property manager and follow up to ensure action is being taken on removal of asbestos.

So, what do I need to do if I want to get work done on my rental property?

Landlords and Body corporates need to familiarise themselves with the hazards and risks associated with their property and ensure any risks are managed effectively. Presence of asbestos poses risks for anyone undertaking work on your property. If you know, or ought reasonably to know, that there is a risk of exposure to respirable asbestos fibres on your property, you must:

1. Identify whether asbestos is present (or there are reasonable grounds to suspect asbestos is present) and, if so, where it is located and what condition it is in (reg. 10)
2. Prepare an asbestos management plan for any stable asbestos that does not need to be removed immediately (reg. 13)
3. Carry out removal of asbestos any identified harmful friable one as required.

The first step is to get your property checked for asbestos. You can arrange for a sample of material from your property to be analysed for the presence of asbestos, but you must ensure that this is done by an accredited laboratory (http://asbestosremovalnz.co.nz/asbestos-testing/).


What needs to be done if asbestos is identified?

Once asbestos in the home or workplace has been identified, you need to make sure you have investigated the risk of exposure so you can prove you have taken all reasonable steps to mitigate risk for any tradespeople and tenants.

Some asbestos materials can be simply identified and left in place if they are in a stable condition and “encapsulated”.

However, friable asbestos must be removed professionally for the safety of your tenants and any tradespeople who may enter your property. For more information on the different conditions asbestos might be in see http://asbestosremovalnz.co.nz/information/.

What is the asbestos management plan?

If the identified asbestos is stable and can be left in place, it’s your responsibility as a landlord to ensure it is maintained in a good state.

If you are going to have any work done on the property, the Health and Safety at Work Act introduces further obligations requiring that you keep a written asbestos management plan. This plan will clarify and confirm the steps you have taken to identify and mitigate the risk that the asbestos poses to any workers coming into your home.

Although theoretically you don’t need a plan for the period while your property is used only as a home, once a trades person comes onto your property to undertake work, the plan is required. WorkSafe New Zealand therefore recommends that you prepare a plan in advance so that your legal obligations are covered in the event of any work needing to be done.

The plan must include information on:
• Identification of asbestos
• Decisions and reasons for decisions about management of the risk
• Procedures for detailing incidents
• Information on any workers who carry out work involving the asbestos, including their training, roles and responsibilities, and health monitoring.

This plan must be kept up to date and reviewed. It also must be made available to anyone who may be carrying out work on your property.

An asbestos management plan also need to be put in place to cover all areas of a property where the presence of asbestos can be presumed. For example, if you have two walls that are exactly alike and wall 1 has been identified as containing asbestos, wall 2 can be presumed to contain asbestos also.

How do I make the plan on removal of asbestos?

The first step in creating your management plan is to engage an asbestos removal contractors on asbestos surveying  who will come into your property to record the locations of all accessible asbestos (http://asbestosremovalnz.co.nz/information/). You should add the details from this survey to your management plan to pinpoint where the asbestos is located and the condition it is currently in. WorkSafe is developing a technical bulletin which will be available in the near future to assist with this planning.

As the landlord  or Body Corporate you should also add an outline to your plan of your own management measures for stable asbestos. These could be as simple as regularly painting a wall that contains stable asbestos, or reminding your tenants not to hang items (pictures or plants etc.) or drill into the wall.


What if I’m undertaking more major refurbishments?

If you are planning a refurbishment that involves pushing out walls, changing ceiling height, or changing room layout, the asbestos safety risks are more serious and the regulations are more stringent. In this scenario, you must get licensed professionals in to identify and complete the process of removal of asbestos before the work commences. (reg. 26)

This will require a refurbishment/demolition survey, which is a lot more intrusive than the survey required for the asbestos management plan. Refurbishment surveys involve going under lino, around windows, and behind stoves, ceilings, gib, and fascia etc. Nothing will be left to presumption.

See our detailed information on removal of asbestos: http://asbestosremovalnz.co.nz/safe-asbestos-removal/.

Get in contact with us if you are concerned about asbestos in your rental property.

Homeowners guide to safe asbestos management

Managing asbestos | Homeowners guide | Removing asbestos | Residential asbestos removal auckland | ARNZ

HOMEOWNERS: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT MANAGING ASBESTOS Asbestos in the home can pose serious health risks to you, your family, and anyone who undertakes work on your property. The aggressive cancer mesothelioma, asbestosis, and lung cancer can all be caused by asbestos exposure. It’s important that you manage asbestos appropriately to mitigate the … Continue reading Homeowners guide to safe asbestos management



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If you have asbestos in your home and you have a home office the new health and safety regulations will now apply to you in regards to safe asbestos management…

Asbestos can pose a significant risk to your health and that of anyone undertaking work on your home. The Health and Safety at Work Act (HSWA), which came into effect last April, has shifted some of the legal responsibilities for this risk, and there is still much confusion as to who is responsible when a tradesperson is working on your property.

Under the Act, landlords acquire some new obligations for health and safety on their rental properties. This is because the Act delegates new responsibilities to what it calls a Person in Charge of a Business or Undertaking (PCBU), and it considers landlords to be PCBUs because a rental can be said to be a type of business.

But the situation for homeowners is a little different. A homeowner is not considered a PCBU so the same obligations do not apply. Therefore, homeowners are NOT responsible for the health and safety of tradespeople and other workers who come onto their property as long as they occupy the home. Here the responsibility falls to the tradesperson or their company.

However, if you run a business from your home, you will be defined as a PCBU under the Act, and will have some responsibilities. These extend to work undertaken on the specific area where the business is conducted (i.e., your office).

Your responsibility as a PCBU to manage asbestos risks in your business space is also limited to your ability to influence and control those risks. In some situations your responsibility may overlap with that of another PCBU (for example, the tradesperson), and here the PCBU with the greater influence and control manages the risk. For example, if an electrician was to insert a new light fixture in your office ceiling, in this case they would be closer to the risk and more familiar with it, and therefore better placed to manage the duty.

Regardless of who carries the primary legal obligations for the health and safety of tradespeople undertaking work on your home office, we strongly recommend that you proactively deal with asbestos in your whole home for the health of yourself, your family, and anyone else living in and/or doing work on your home. 

What am I accountable for?

 “In the event of any incident, you are liable – to the extent you are able to control.”

This liability includes specific responsibilities around asbestos. Any time a tradesperson such as an electrician or a plumber enters the business space to undertake work, you are responsible for any safety issues that may result from existing asbestos.

Although technically you are legally responsible only for the asbestos in your office space, if you suspect your home may contain asbestos at any location we advise that you go through the process of identifying and managing asbestos throughout the whole property, for the safety of everyone in your home. 

So, what do I need to do if I want to get work done on my home office ?

Homeowners should familiarise themselves with the hazards and risks associated with their property and ensure any risks are managed effectively. Presence of asbestos poses risks for anyone undertaking work on your property. If you know, or ought reasonably to know, that there is a risk of exposure to respirable asbestos fibres in your home office, you must:

  1. Identify whether asbestos is present (or there are reasonable grounds to suspect asbestos is present) and, if so, where it is located and what condition it is in (reg. 10)
  2. Prepare an asbestos management plan for how you will manage any identified asbestos. This includes monitoring and/or encapsulation of any asbestos that does not need to be removed immediately (reg. 13)
  3. Carry out removal or encapsulation of any identified harmful asbestos as required.

The first step is to get your office space checked for asbestos. You can arrange for a sample of material from this area to be analysed for the presence of asbestos. We do not recommend that homeowners do their own sampling, as this can create a further risk of exposure if the sampling is done incorrectly.

Read more about our safe testing protocol Here:

What needs to be done if asbestos is identified in my office space? 

Some asbestos materials can be simply identified and left in place if they are in a stable condition /or “encapsulated”. Other asbestos will need to be professionally removed. So, it’s important to get the asbestos situation in your home office assessed so you know how to manage it. A surveyor will be able to provide recommendations on your best options, which are likely to be one of the following.

Leaving the asbestos in place

If the area is not likely to be disturbed and the asbestos is in good condition, it may be able to be left in situ, as long as it is regularly monitored. This will depend on the location and condition of the asbestos, as well as the likelihood of disturbance. For example, if you have asbestos lagging on pipes under the house office where no one goes, and no plumbing work is expected to involve those pipes, it might be appropriate to simply leave the asbestos and monitor it regularly.

Encapsulation

Another option for managing asbestos is to safely encapsulate it. Examples of encapsulation options are putting a new false ceiling underneath a stipple ceiling that contains asbestos, or laying linoleum tiles over asbestos flooring. Sometimes asbestos in HardiPlank can be managed by painting over it.

Removal

Sometimes the condition of the asbestos is such that the only way to remediate the risk is to remove it.

Removal is also necessary in any circumstance where the asbestos will be disturbed. In the example above concerning management of asbestos lagging on pipes, if plumbing work was to be undertaken requiring those pipes, the asbestos would need to be removed before the plumbing work could commence.

Any major renovation on your home office is likely to cause disturbance of asbestos, and in this circumstance the asbestos also must be professionally removed before the work begins. This will ensure the safety of any tradespeople who may enter your office space.

What is the asbestos management plan? 

An asbestos management plan sets out how any identified asbestos will be managed. It clarifies and confirms the steps you have taken to identify and mitigate the risk that the asbestos poses to any workers coming into your office space.

Though currently the plan is required only if you are planning to undertake work on the office space, as of 4 April 2018 you will be required to keep a written asbestos management plan for any space where asbestos has been identified regardless of whether or not work is planned. The plan must include information on:

  • Identification of asbestos
  • Decisions and reasons for decisions about management of the risk
  • Procedures for detailing or emergencies involving asbestos
  • Information on any workers who carry out work involving the asbestos, including their training, roles and responsibilities, and health monitoring.

This plan must be kept up to date and reviewed. It also must be made available to anyone who may be carrying out work, including any minor or routine maintenance work, on your office space. 

How do I make the plan? 

The first step in creating your management plan is to engage an asbestos surveying company to come into your office space to record the locations of all accessible asbestos (http://asbestosremovalnz.co.nz/information/). You should add the details from this survey to your management plan to pinpoint where the asbestos is located and the condition it is currently in. WorkSafe is developing a technical bulletin that will be available soon to assist with this planning.

You should also add an outline to your plan of your own management measures for stable asbestos. These could be as simple as regularly painting a wall that contains stable asbestos, or making a commitment not to hang items (pictures or plants etc.) or drill into the wall.

If requested upon hiring, the asbestos surveying company will write the asbestos management plan for you, and create recommendations as to management. However, the overall decision regarding management of the asbestos is up to you as the PCBU.

If you are planning a refurbishment that involves major disruption such as pushing out walls, changing ceiling height, replacing all window frames, or changing room layout, the asbestos safety risks are more serious and the regulations are more stringent. In this scenario, you must get licenced professionals in to identify and remove any identified asbestos before the work commences (reg. 26).

This will require a refurbishment/demolition survey, which is a lot more intrusive than the survey required for the asbestos management plan. Refurbishment surveys involve going under lino, around windows, and behind stoves, ceilings, gib, and fascia etc. Nothing will be left to presumption.

See our detailed information on asbestos removal: http://asbestosremovalnz.co.nz/safe-asbestos-removal/.

The next practical steps: 

  • Learn about common asbestos materials – see our guide about what asbestos is and where you could find it in your home.
  • Review your property to see if you can identify any existence of asbestos.
  • Document your findings
  • If you are planning to renovate, arrange for asbestos testing before beginning any work
  • If you know you have asbestos in your office space, make sure any tradespeople know before they undertake any maintenance or building works.

Looking for advice on how to manage asbestos ? Do you need help with asbestos removal ? Speak to us about getting a quote for the safe asbestos removal in your home.

What you need to know before you remove Vinyl flooring

So what is asbestos and how dangerous is it? Most houses in New Zealand built before 1975 are likely to have asbestos products somewhere. Asbestos-containing products have a lifetime of 25 to 50 years, and when repairs, renovation, or demolition takes place the asbestos is then exposed beneath cladding, ceiling tiles, or vinyl flooring. Asbestos … Continue reading What you need to know before you remove Vinyl flooring



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