Asbestos – Information for Landlords

Hannah Norton

As you may be aware, the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 and supporting regulations have been around for some time now and relate to our equal responsibilities, each as a PCBU (person conducting business or undertaking) as defined in the legislation and regulations. Both landlord and property manager are equally responsible and one cannot contract out their responsibilities to another.

The first wave of compliance looked at the relationship we have with our contractors as well as the identification and reporting of hazards and risks when the property is being used as a workplace i.e. tradesman going on-site or members of the public or Ray White staff visiting the site.
The next wave of H&S compliance has arrived and relates specifically to Asbestos and how this is identified and managed in regards to the risk this may pose to any occupants or those involved with any work at the property.

As a PCBU, it is our legal obligation to identify and manage potential exposure to hazardous substances – and asbestos is on top of that list. The current ‘Approved Code Of Practice For Management And Removal Of Asbestos’ set out by Worksafe states that “If a PCBU carrying out demolition, refurbishment or removal, or intending to carry out this work in a home identifies asbestos, the PCBU must tell the homeowner, landlord (if applicable) and occupant about the asbestos so they can keep themselves and others safe.”

How does this affect you and your property?
Houses built, or that have had renovation work done, prior to the year 2000 are likely to contain some asbestos, but in most cases it is not immediately obvious and can be hidden by other materials. Ultimately, we are looking to have clarity as to what may be present at your property and the controls and protections that may be necessary to keep contractors and home occupiers safe during time of work.

When does this come into place?
The Asbestos component of the Health and Safety at Work Regulations comes into full effect as of 4th April 2018 and this is the date whereby any PCBU (you and your Ray White property manager) must have begun the process of identifying and minimising risk associated with asbestos.

What will be required?
The top priority is on any demolition or renovation projects on houses built prior to 2000, because we have a duty to identify asbestos. Longer term, Ray White are currently working with key expert suppliers in the industry to provide an offering which will ensure the requirements are being met in the most pragmatic and value-added way to our stakeholders.

What’s the hold up?

There is still a lack of clarity amongst the industry and various governing bodies around exactly what is required and to what level. We are trying to ensure the approach we take is one that is reasonably practicable and allows for landlords to comply with their obligations without also incurring any unnecessary costs.

The early stage of legislative implementation tends to be when the less confident investors knee-jerk and find themselves making costly decisions that far outweigh the robustness of outcomes and we want to try and prevent this.

At the current time we are still awaiting industry specific guidance from REINZ (Real Estate Institute of New Zealand), however, we have a fair idea of what you need to prepare for and are working with key industry experts to ensure that right approach is taken.

What does that mean in practice?
As stated above, there is still a lot of misinformation around the issue and many with a vested interest are trying to take advantage of this. We have done comprehensive research and are continuing to work with some of the best and most qualified in the industry.

What now?
We are still working through group proposals and various sources of information both at a group and individual office level, as well as awaiting the REINZ asbestos guidance. In the meantime, we can discuss any specific requirements around any future demolition and renovation works you have on your properties and ensure we are taking proper precautions in hazard identification.

If you have purchased your property recently and have any form of building inspection or report that would show asbestos related information it would be helpful if you can supply this to your property manager, or any other information you may have around your property in relation to asbestos.

Where can I find more information?
We will continue to update you and advise on what is reasonable in practical to ensure we meet our PCBU obligations, however there are sources of information you can research below if you would like more detail:

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