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Dutyholders and the Duty to Manage Asbestos in Non-Domestic Buildings

You may be the Owner or Landlord. You might be a Property Management Company. Perhaps you are a Letting Agent. If you have responsibility for the maintenance or repairs of any non-domestic building then you are the dutyholder and it is your job to identify and manage any asbestos containing materials (ACMs).

Here at Stephenson's Analytical Services Limited we are coming across more and more property owners, landlords and managing agents who have been caught out due to confusion over asbestos regulations - specifically the 'duty to manage' and 'dutyholder' definitions. The following aims to briefly answer the main questions that we are regularly asked about asbestos in non-domestic premises, including the duty to manage, dutyholder definition, multiple-occupancy building 'common areas' and current regulations.

Under the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 the dutyholder has a duty to manage the asbestos in their non-domestic premises.

What is the Duty?

The duty to manage is set out in the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 – Regulation 4. Amongst other responsibilities it includes: identifying any materials that contain (or might contain) asbestos; recording the location/s, quantity and condition; assessing the risk to staff, visitors, residents, contractors, etc; compiling an Asbestos Register and maintaining the Asbestos Management Plan; providing up-to-date information to anyone liable to disturb asbestos materials; regularly reviewing the Management Plan and monitoring the condition of all identified or presumed ACMs.

Who is the Dutyholder?

In short, the dutyholder is the owner of the building or the person or organisation that has clear responsibility for the maintenance or repairs. This is often the Landlord, Letting Agents or Management Company on behalf of the owner, but can also be the building manager or even tenants depending on what is in the management contract or letting agreement. In some circumstances the duty may be shared and is determined by "the nature and extent of the maintenance and repair obligation owed by that [each] person".

What if there is no formal contract?

Where a formal contract or agreement does not exist the dutyholder is "...every person who has, to any extent, control of that part of those non-domestic premises or any means of access or egress to or from those premises". To remove any doubt it is always best to have a clear, written agreement in place.


Non-Domestic vs Domestic

Non-domestic premises include industrial, commercial or public buildings such as factories, warehouses, offices, shops, hospitals, care homes and schools. Domestic premises, e.g. privately-owned homes or private areas of rented homes, are not included under the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012. However, are you aware that non-domestic premises actually include the 'common areas' of certain domestic premises? Therefore, these types of domestic premises (i.e. multi-occupancy domestic premises, such as purpose-built flats or houses converted into flats) are subject to the same Control of Asbestos Regulations.

What Areas are Classed as ‘Common Areas’?

Common or communal areas include foyers, corridors, lifts / lift-shafts, staircases, roof spaces, gardens, yards, garages, outhouses, etc. They do not include the inside of private rooms or individual flats, for example. Detailed information about areas included can be found on the HSE Website.

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