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  • Do I need an Asbestos Survey and Fire Risk Assessment for my flat?

    Question: I am selling a 2 bed ground floor conversion flat in Hackney, London. Mr buyer’s solicitor says my Freeholder needs to provide a Fire Risk Assessment and Asbestos Management Plan for the building. We don’t have any contact with the building’s Freeholder, so I thought I would arrange these for myself. There is no communal hall. This is bizarre.

    Answer: Asbestos surveys is one of the very few things we do not do I am afraid, although we include comment and recommendation on the likelihood or actuality of it within the context of a Building Survey or home buyer survey.

    Asbestos in various forms is found in many building materials and is not considered a problem if it is encapsulated and undamaged. If you or your buyer intend major works however you may need a “Refurbishment / demolition” survey.
    You have been asked for the Asbestos Management Plan for the common parts of a building, which is quite a different matter and will first of all require a “Management” asbestos survey. This is a non-invasive survey (a “Refurbishment / demolition” survey is more in-depth for people planning major works) and will be the centre point of your Asbestos Management Plan.
    Our Property Management Department has dealt with both Asbestos Management Plans and subsequent Asbestos removal and encapsulation. I will provide the details of companies they have used in the past by separate email and hope that this is helpful to you.

    Even though there are no communal interior parts, what about soffits, barge boards, roof tiles, guttering and the like. If that is the responsibility of a Lessee rather than Freeholder, then you can tell your solicitor that no plan is required as there are no common parts. Even if these elements are communal or Freehold responsibility, the asbestos management plan will only refer to testing them before any work is carried out. It is a lot simpler than many people imagine.

    If there are no interior common parts, then there is no need for a Fire Risk Assessment as this only relates to the “commercial” part of the building, i.e. internal common parts.

    You are correct, it is bizarre from what you say and I think you should put pressure on your buyer to refer to their surveyor and demonstrate any of this is reasonably required. Good luck.

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