If you own, occupy, or have a repair obligation for commercial property (non-domestic premises), the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 imposes a statutory obligation on you to ensure that the property in question has been properly surveyed with an asbestos report for the presence of asbestos.
Failure to comply is classed as a criminal offence that is punishable by an unlimited fine or imprisonment. The main focus point of the regulations is to impose a duty to manage asbestos risk in commercial premises.
Who is the Duty Holder?
The obligation is imposed on the duty holder, which is the person who has control of non-domestic properties, a means of access or obligations to maintenance or repair.
In some instances, there may be more than one duty holder, with primary responsibility being with an occupying tenant and the owner remaining liable. The relative contributions are usually determined by the nature and extent of maintenance and repair obligations.
Functions of managing asbestos
When managing asbestos within a commercial property, the duty to manage is broken down into 3 functions.
The first is a duty to assess whether any asbestos is present within the premises and record the conclusions of the assessment, followed by the duty to determine the risk from the identified asbestos and compose a written plan of action for management of it – such as if it needs to be monitored or removed.
The third is ensuring that all people who carry out any work to the property are provided with up to date information concerning the asbestos location and condition, as well as any steps needed to be taken to safely work in the premises.
Sale of property
On the sale of a commercial property or grant of lease, the property owner or occupier should produce an asbestos report and highlight any details of work undertaken following the report or any asbestos removal.
In instances where a property was built after the year 2000, no asbestos should have been used in its construction and will require no report supplied. Whilst there is no legal obligation for a seller/landlord to provide an asbestos report, the purchaser/tenant will become the duty holder on completion and will hold the obligation as an employer towards employees and others working within the property to ensure they are safeguarded from associated health risks from asbestos-containing materials.
If you are planning on selling or letting a commercial property, it is advisable that you have an up to date asbestos report and management plan or have one commissioned by asbestos services as soon as possible.