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Asbestos in social housing – here’s what you need to know

For any social housing provider, the wellbeing of your customers is at the heart of your work.

This means that you’re focused not only on providing comfortable spaces for them, but ones that are safe, too.

That’s why ensuring that you stay compliant with the basic health and safety requirements is critical.

For those managing property, it’s yet another serious challenge on top of an already extensive list of demands on your time, and it’s one that becomes more complicated depending on the size of your stock, the age or nature of your accommodations, and your budget. All these factors – and many more - can drastically change how you approach the challenge.

This is why, when carrying out legally required risk assessments, reporting, or works to mitigate hazards, social housing providers look for partners who can understand the scale of their challenges and who can provide them and those in their care with peace of mind and a safe pair of hands.

Here’s an overview of why that expertise is essential when it comes to managing asbestos in your housing stock, and what support partners such as AEC can provide.

Why is asbestos such a risk in social housing?

You might already know that asbestos is considered one of the ‘Big 6’ issues in property compliance – alongside Legionellafire, LOLER (Lifts), electrics and gas.

However, it’s particularly problematic in this sector because a lot of social housing was built before the use of asbestos in construction was banned in 1999.

Hence, it’s common to find asbestos in much of the ‘fabric’ of properties: in insulation, walls, roof tiles, panelling, and even in pipework.

Asbestos isn’t just a problem because it’s so prevalent – but also because we can underestimate the risks.

As a reminder:

Managing the risks of asbestos is a challenge for any responsible person (no matter the size of the premises) - but social housing is a unique case. Here’s why.

What particular problems do social housing providers face?

If dutyholders are responsible for a single building or a small premises, managing the risks of asbestos might simply mean carrying out one survey (alongside future re-inspections) for any work required.

For social housing providers, this work can extend to hundreds or thousands of properties, across diverse types of housing and – at times – with the needs of vulnerable residents in mind (e.g. those living in sheltered accommodation).

This means that social landlords need to:

  • Assess the risk for every type of asbestos present in each building throughout their stock
  • Keep multiple management plans where necessary to document every asbestos-related risk
  • Be aware of their legal responsibilities for each type of building in their portfolio, which spans multiple regulations, from landlord-and-tenant legislation to HSE guidelines

This is without mentioning the job of organising surveys, reinspections, and any necessary removal of asbestos.

This must all be done whilst keeping tenants and workers safe (and minimising inconvenience to residents).

What can social housing providers do to manage these challenges?

Managing asbestos and staying compliant isn’t just about ensuring health and safety protocols are followed when works are being carried out.

For social housing providers, it’s also about collecting high volumes of data, knowing exactly what you need to do with it, and ensuring it is visible to the right people.

In among all the duties that social housing providers have to their customers, it’s a job that is simply too big for one person – and even one team.

This is why social housing providers rely on partners such as AEC.

With over 25 years’ experience in asbestos consulting, surveying, risk assessment and project management, AEC’s experts have helped clients seamlessly manage their data using our bespoke online platform, conduct surveys to support investment programmes, and provide project management services that keep your necessary work compliant, safe and within budget.

For free advice on your project, you can call our friendly experts at 0203 384 6175.


Want to see how we have helped social housing providers like yours stay compliant and deliver industry-leading standards in health and safety? Follow the links to download our case studies for two providers, Southway Housing Trust and Stockport Homes.

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