It is no longer news that recently a Manchester Crown Court was closed and will remain closed for two weeks or more due to testing for asbestos. The official reason stated was that a routine asbestos survey identified a need for further tests to confirm the presence of airborne asbestos particles which prompted the immediate closure.

What is Asbestos?

Asbestos is a general name given to several naturally occurring fibrous minerals that have crystallised to form fibres. They are strong, heat and chemical resistant and do not dissolve in water or evaporate but are reasonably safe in a solid and stable state, however, any disturbance or damage, could result in dust being released, which is very harmful to the health when inhaled or ingested. Research shows that exposure to asbestos through inhaling or swallowing of the microscopic fibres could cause mesothelioma, cancer of the lung, larynx and ovary. 

Managing Asbestos

Although asbestos use has been banned in the UK, it is still present in properties built before 1999 and cannot be identified by mere looking, hence the importance of having an asbestos check before buying, selling or leasing a property. The Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 places the duty of managing asbestos on the owner of the property or the person with clear responsibility for the maintenance or repair (tenant, landlord, management company etc) and there are consequences for failure to manage asbestos properly.

Benefits of an asbestos survey to the seller/landlord

As the seller/landlord, it is advisable to have your own survey done before putting the property on the market as this will prevent any unwanted surprises further in the transaction that can negatively affect the sale/lease. The presence of asbestos (depending on various factors) may affect the value of a property and subsequently affect the property sale since the removal is so expensive and property prices are often adjusted to reflect removal costs.  Also, the seller has a legal duty to disclose the presence of asbestos in a property to the buyer (if you are aware of it) and there are legal implications for failing to disclose.

Benefits of an asbestos survey to the buyer/tenant

As the buyer/tenant, it is advisable to have your own survey done as you can use the results of the check to negotiate a price drop to cover the cost of removal. Also, if you intend to renovate or refit a property with asbestos, it will cost more as you will be required to remove the asbestos before renovations to prevent the fibres from being released into the environment.  You should also consider the health risk to the occupiers of the property and members of the public.

Furthermore, the seller’s duty to disclose the presence of asbestos to the buyer is dependent on the seller’s awareness of it, as such it is more prudent to think about asbestos inspection, removal and post-removal costs before buying or leasing a property.

If you are looking to buy or sell in or around Derby, Nottingham or the East Midlands, or simply want some detailed property advice from a Firm you can trust, please get in touch with us today at 01332221722 and we will be happy to assist.


Chimdinma Nwaigwe, Solicitor/Head of Commercial Property

This entry was posted in Commercial Property, News and posted on August 8, 2022