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Asbestos Legislation - This affects many rental properties in New Zealand

17

May

2018

Asbestos Legislation - This affects many rental properties in New Zealand

On the 4th of April this year the Health and Safety at Work (Asbestos) Regulations 2016 came into effect. The full regulation can be viewed here: http://www.legislation.govt.nz/regulation/public/2016/0015/19.0/DLM6729706.html but we try to simplify things for you in the following opinion article.

Firstly, what is asbestos, why is it dangerous and where can it be found?
Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral that was added to building products to strengthen them, and is found predominantly in properties built between 1950 and 2000. Asbestos is extremely durable, and resistant to fire and electricity.
It becomes dangerous when Asbestos Containing Materials (ACM) break down and become dust – particles can enter the lungs and body and cause cancers and lung disease among other serious health issues.
ACM can be found in many areas and we predominantly see them in stipple ceilings, lino, house soffits and other areas. The picture above shows that in reality ACM can be found in nearly all parts of a property, down to storm water/sewerage pipes and fence palings.

Briefly, what does the new law mean to us as landlords and require us to do?
The Act requires a management plan for all rental properties that may contain ACM - to have a plan for assessing, encasing, removing and dumping of these materials. Failure to properly deal with Asbestos can result in prosecution and serious fines of up to $10,000 for an individual and $50,000 for others.
If you have a property built between 1950 and 2000, you can have it tested by a qualified person, who will provide results, and where there is a positive result, can provide an asbestos management plan. The cost for these services is generally around $700.

What next and is your property affected?
The legislation does not require records to be required for homes – so when are rental properties affected? Rental properties are in most cases, homes for Tenants, but that changes when repairs and/or renovations are required and the property becomes a work place.
As ACM are relatively safe if they are in an undisturbed and stable condition, a possible alternative approach could be considered.
Identifying properties that may contain Asbestos is obviously a priority and planning to ensure there are no health and safety risks for tenants or contractors who work at the property.
Should repairs or renovations be required, Landlords could choose to at this point to have their property tested by a qualified and experienced person and make plans based on the test results.
Where areas of a property that may contain Asbestos are found to be breaking down or disturbed, testing by a qualified person is essential and a plan to remove, encase or remove the ACM becomes critical.

There have been substantial legislation changes that affect Landlords and Tenants over the past 2 years and more are on the way – stay informed and if you would like further information of this legislation or other changes, such as Healthy Homes Guarantees Bill, abolition of the letting fee, Osaki and tenant liability, insulation requirements or smoke alarms, feel free to contact your Property Manager.
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