The responsibility to manage asbestos on completion

If you are an owner, landlord, tenant or managing agent of a commercial property, you may be responsible for managing asbestos unless your contract or lease says otherwise.  

Why is an Asbestos Report required?

It is now unlawful to use asbestos in the construction or refurbishment of any commercial premises, however any buildings built or refurbished before 2000 may still contain asbestos. As long as the asbestos-containing material (ACM) is in good condition, and is not being or going to be disturbed or damaged, it presents a manageable risk. However, if it is disturbed or damaged, it can become a danger to health, because people may breathe in any asbestos fibres released into the air. 

The Control of Asbestos Regulations 2006 places a statutory obligation on the owners and occupiers of commercial premises to ensure that they have arranged for such premises to be surveyed for asbestos and there is a plan of action in place on how to manage any asbestos found at the premises. 

As the duty to manage asbestos passes to the purchaser on completion, the failure to understand or communicate the risks arising from exposure to asbestos can have potentially life-threatening and financial implications to a purchaser and their business. Therefore a purchaser’s solicitor must ensure that the vendor has provided a copy of the asbestos report, and has carried out any remedial works required by any such report prior to completion as it would be the vendor’s responsibility to manage asbestos prior to completion. 

If there is no asbestos report the purchaser may have to consider commissioning a report themselves prior to completion. We would always advise that the purchaser never complete without one. 

Vendor has not commissioned an Asbestos Report

In the interest of preventing any unnecessary delays in the sale it is always worth the vendor commissioning an asbestos report before advertising the sale of the property. Also the lack of an asbestos report could result in the vendor losing a prospective purchaser. 

The failure to manage asbestos

Failing to have a plan to manage asbestos and put it into action could result in you:-

1. Paying a fine of up to £20,000 or
2. Being imprisoned for up to 12 months

For a serious breach, there can be an unlimited fine and/or imprisonment of up to 2 years.  

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