The New Asbestos Legislation For Landlords Has Arrived
Is your home built before the year 2000? If so, did you know that you could just about bet your house that it will have asbestos containing material (ACM) used as part of the construction? If not, don’t panic, you are not alone. It is a pretty strange situation, in that the ACM is actually a very useful product, except of course, that it can kill you. The good news is that most ACM poses absolutely no risk to you as long as it is not damaged or degrading in any way.
So why does this matter to you, what does the legislation require you as a landlord to do and what is your next step?
First, let’s talk a little about asbestos and when a few of the key changes took place.
Asbestos is an incredibly useful product, sought after for its great properties such as resistance to electricity, fire and heat. Due to this it was used in a wide array of building products right up until the late 90s. Unfortunately the negative health affects were becoming increasingly evident and in 1984, New Zealand banned the importation of blue and brown asbestos. Chrysotile, more commonly known as white asbestos, continued to be imported right up until the final ban was introduced in 1999.
However, what we saw leading up to the ban was a number of building companies stock piling these products for future use. Remember, that there has never been a ban on using these ACM building materials, only on their importation. This means that these products continued to be used until the stockpiles dwindled. It is due to this that our focus is on identifying asbestos containing material in properties built pre-2000, however it is still possible to find ACM in houses constructed post-2000.
So if you are a Landlord, what is the new legislation and how does it apply to you?
On the 4 April, 2018 legislation came into affect which states that “Landlords must ensure that, when work is carried out at their property, it is done safely and without endangering workers or others, including tenants”. The legislation is specifically in relation to asbestos management and goes on to state that “Landlords have a duty to identify asbestos and prepare an asbestos management plan“. Here is a link to the Worksafe website which further highlights the legal requirements of Landlords around residential properties and asbestos.
Effectively, what the legislation is saying is that if you are a Landlord, then you are a Person Conducting Business or Undertaking (PCBU) and as such you have a duty of care to identify any asbestos containing material in the property and create and asbestos management plan to ensure the safety of any contractors and potentially your tenants, if work is to be done that will disturb the ACM in any way.
So this is okay. We understand this and it makes sense. The key issue which seems to be consistently overlooked is that the Landlord is the principle PCBU, in that the property is owned by them and as such it is up to the Landlord in the first instance to identify the location of any ACM throughout the property. What we have seen previously, is Landlords waiting for general maintenance work requirements, either scheduled or unscheduled, to occur and hoping that the contractor will be able to identify any ACM, before they begin their work. Unfortunately, not only does this not meet the legislative requirements, but it is also creating a huge risk for the Landlords, tenants and the contractors themselves in the very common situation that the contractor, does not accurately identify that a product is holding asbestos.
So what should Landlords do?
The issue is that historically, asbestos testing has largely been invasive and incredibly expensive. Effectively, there has simply not been a product which is fit for purpose in meeting the legislation and identifying ACM in the property. What Landlords need is a company that is willing to visit their rental property, not when work is about to be done but preemptively, and assess if the property is holding any ACM. Or more accurately, identify where the ACM is located in the property and assess the state that it is in. The company should also deliver a report which clearly highlights where any potential ACM is in the property with the use of pictures to ensure that it can be easily identified going forward. They should also give recommendations as to the state of the ACM and whether it is currently in a safe and stable condition. The company should also be willing to fully guarantee their work and take on the liability around the accurate identification of the potential ACM. This liability and guarantee should also remain valid for 5 years. Enter ATS!!
ATS has developed a Non-Invasive Visual Inspection for asbestos, which is specifically designed for two things. First and fore most, to keep contractors and tenants safe from asbestos risk and secondly to meet the legislative requirements. The product is tailored to ensure that Landlords are able to quickly and easily identify any potential ACM in the property and highlight this to contractors, which ensures that the contractors know exactly what not to touch, or what action to take if the work that they are planning will disturn the identified potential ACM. Some Landlords are being even more proactive and are helping to keep the tenants safe by providing them with a copy of the report as well.
Priced at just $249+gst and valid for 5 years, the Non-Invasive Visual Inspection for Asbestos is quite simply the best product available anywhere in New Zealand to ensure that Landlords are meeting their legal requirements while keeping their tenants and contractors safe.