Asbestos: Advice to Tenants
This information tells you everything you need to know about asbestos, and how you might be affected if it is discovered in your property.
In the past, asbestos was used in some of our properties as a fire retardant or insulation material. It is now banned, but where it already exists in buildings it can be left in place so long as it poses no risk to human health. It’s important to note that asbestos is only potentially dangerous where its fibres become airborne and are breathed in – and this is only likely if the products in which it is used become damaged.
Helena Partnerships is committed to ensuring the safety of our tenants and we now have an Asbestos Management Policy to ensure all asbestos in our properties is dealt with in the best way. In some cases this might mean removing it, in others it may well be safest to leave it in place.
Don’t worry – it’s important to remember that the discovery of asbestos in your home is NOT likely to present a serious problem.
What is asbestos?
Asbestos is a very strong natural fibre that can be found in rocks. Its use became popular in buildings in the 1960s and 1970s because of its strength and its resistance to heat and chemicals. Many houses in the UK built during this period use asbestos as insulation material or for fire protection. The asbestos fibres are hidden behind protective materials and so cannot be breathed in. It is only if these materials become damaged or worn that there is a chance of this happening.
Why is it dangerous?
The tiny invisible fibres contained in asbestos are harmful if breathed in – and it was this which led the government to ban the material in 1999. The asbestos fibres can become lodged in the body’s chest or lungs and can cause fatal illnesses including asbestosis (a scarring of the lungs), lung cancer or mesothelioma (a cancer of the lung or stomach lining).
Please remember though that asbestos in your home does not usually mean there is any likelihood of your being exposed to these dangerous asbestos fibres. And if asbestos is found to be a problem we will take all necessary steps to ensure it is safely removed.
Where might it be found?
Asbestos was used in a wide variety of products so can be found in a lot of places in the home. It has been used since the 1930s, though properties built or refurbished in the 1960s and 1970s are most likely to contain some form of asbestos. The following diagram shows the places you are most likely to find asbestos in your home:
1 Roof of house or garage tiles or roof felt
2 Gutters and down-pipes
3 Fascia boards
4 Partition walls
5 Panels beneath windows
6 Cupboards around domestic boilers
7 Panels behind electrical equipment
8 Panels behind fires or heaters
9 Panels on or inside fire doors
10 Bath panels
11 Floor tiles
12 Textured coatings (artex)
13 Gaskets and rope seals inside gas appliances
14 Cold water storage tanks
How can you identify Asbestos?
It’s impossible to tell whether a product contains asbestos just by looking at it. Asbestos is often only part of the product and it could have been dyed, meaning it is hard to identify. To be sure, a sample of the product needs to be taken and analysed by an approved laboratory.
What is Helena’s approach to dealing with asbestos?
Helena Partnerships has an Asbestos Management Policy which sets out how we deal with asbestos in our properties. Given asbestos often presents no problems and still performs a useful function, it is often best to leave it in place. If we find it’s not safe we will decide either to remove it or to enclose it behind a safe barrier. If it’s best left in place or enclosed we will continue to check from time to time that it is still safe. If we decide not to remove the product immediately we will write to you telling you where the asbestos is and what you should and should not do. Keep this letter in a safe place ready to show any contractors who may carry out work on your home.
Everything we do in relation to asbestos will be in line with all relevant rules and regulations set out by the government. All employees undertaking asbestos surveys and safety or removal work will be appropriately trained in line with Health & Safety rules.
Over the last four years Helena has carried out about 5,000 asbestos surveys. Our plan now is to continue this work across the rest of our properties. All the information from these surveys will be recorded in an asbestos register available to Helena staff, contractors and tenants
Asbestos dos and don’ts
- DO keep away from any damaged products which may contain asbestos
- DO inform us straight away if you have concerns about any products in your home
- DON’T carry out DIY works including drilling, sanding or stripping of any products known to contain asbestos
- DON’T dust, sweep or vacuum debris that may contain asbestos
- DON’T take risks
Helena customers should not carry out any improvements or alterations to their properties without the permission of Helena Partnerships, in line with their tenancy agreements. If you, or anyone you have permitted, carry out works to a material containing asbestos in your property, without written approval from Helena Partnerships, you will be liable for the costs of dealing with any asbestos incident and the cost of returning the property to its original state.
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