RICS Draft Guidance Note: Asbestos - legal requirements and best practice for property professionals and clients (4th edition)

RICS Asbestos 4th edition consultation draft

4.2.7 The need for asbestos strategies and management plans

The duty to manage referred to in 3.1.1 goes further than just having asbestos surveys carried out in order to produce an asbestos register.

Bearing in mind the legal requirement is a duty to manage asbestos, by carrying out only a survey building owners are not fully complying with the law. Once the survey has been done, the survey information should then be used to proactively manage identified ACMs.

This can be achieved by preparing and implementing an asbestos management plan incorporating the survey information. It describes various procedures and arrangements for the ongoing management of the ACMs, in order to ensure the continued safety of occupiers and those planning and carrying out building work.

The asbestos management plan describes:

  • where the asbestos is and its condition
  • what remedial actions are required and their priority
  • where and how the asbestos information can be accessed
  • roles and responsibilities of people managing asbestos in the building
  • levels of training required
  • how the asbestos register is used to plan building and maintenance work
  • how the asbestos information is provided to people that need it
  • who is authorised to carry out asbestos checks
  • the details of specialist companies that can undertake survey, testing and removal work and
  • how the asbestos management plan will be reviewed and updated.

Asbestos strategy options

Leave and manage

This is based on the often-quoted opinion that, if left in place and not disturbed, asbestos poses no risk. However, this creates the need to continually manage and check the condition of ACMs, and consider their presence when planning works. Their presence could also deter potential tenants or purchasers of the premises, who may not be prepared to take on responsibility for their management.

Active approach to remove over time

This policy adopts the approach that, at convenient points in the occupier's tenure in a property, they choose to remove asbestos rather than leave it in place. This can be part of an ongoing maintenance and refurbishment strategy to always remove it when refurbishing an area, or in advance of undertaking maintenance. This reduces the degree of management over time, eventually providing a low-risk environment.

Leaseholders may consider an active strategy to avoid any potential dilapidations liabilities. However, the presence of asbestos should not be classed as a disrepair and there is no requirement to remove asbestos. Issues arise if the ACM is in disrepair and the costs of remedying any such breach is included under the terms of the lease. If a management report early in the lease had a low material assessment score and later reports had higher scores, this could be viewed as a deterioration in the condition of the material and remedial works may be claimed under dilapidations. Any management plan will be specific to the occupier's use of the building and should not be passed on; however, the register showing its location should be provided at the end of the lease. Any tenant will need to demonstrate compliance with statutory requirements in their dealings with any asbestos in the property.

Management of information

Even if all asbestos is removed, the responsible person will still need to have a management plan in place to detail the previous presence of asbestos and where it was located, together with details of when and how it was removed. It should not be assumed that no asbestos is present, even if the management plan states that all asbestos has been removed.

The larger and more complex the organisation, the more detailed the asbestos management plan will need to be to ensure all parties are aware of its contents. Any incidents of accidental exposure that do occur will need to be investigated to identify how and why they occurred, so that corrective action can be put in place to prevent this happening again.