Asbestos cement fire door panels - wilful damage

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    Asbestos cement fire door panels - wilful damage

    In another thread Paul wrote:-
    Originally posted by Paul_f
    <snip> If you want to do the work yourself then you should still use the builder's quote as it will take into account labour charges as well as materials. It is more use in court as well (see below).<snip>
    .
    In the past for local authority Housing Improvement Grant work one could only charge for materials and not one's own labour. I'm not sure if that is the current position but it seems I was mistakenly using that principle for my repair work as landlord.

    After the tenant had vacated the property we found that the asbestos cement panels of two doors had been wilfully damaged and the damage concealed in one case by furniture being used to hold the door open and the other by a window wedge between the door and carpet.

    My immediate concern was a Health and Safety issue and that the cost of professional repair would never be recovered from the tenant who is now unemployed. Specialist contractors would be needed to remove and dispose of the broken doors and and to provide modern replacements.

    The asbestos cement fire door panels were used to line the original internal doors when the Edwardian house was converted to two flats. Presumably this was a Building Regulation requirement at the time of conversion.

    I decided that emergency repairs were needed to encapsulate the damaged areas of asbestos to allow safe conditions for cleaning contractors and plumbing services needed to attend to other damage. Wearing mask and protective clothing I filled the broken areas of panelling and covered the damage with a small additional protective panel. The repair shows and it is not so good to look at as the original undamaged door.

    Does it matter whether or not the damage was accidental or wilful?

    If the damage was accidental I'm not sure that it would be reasonable to expect the tenant to know that very expensive repairs would be needed as a consequent of his actions.

    Would different criteria apply in the case of wilful damage.

    A lot of DIY work was done on our property to rectify damage caused by the tenant and we have not claimed for labour in the County Court action.

    How would one determine a fair rate for landlord's DIY work and could one include transport costs and meals etc?

    Could things rebound on us if we make too much of an issue of the damaged doors? Should we stress the reasonableness of our repair charges for the doors whilst we are in the "Without Prejudice" attempts to secure a settlement prior to the Court hearing?

    Presumably one can still keep the dated Building Regulation approved doors in place provided the asbestos cement is encapsulated and maintained free from damage.
    Vic - wicked landlord
    Any advice or suggestions given in my posts are intended for guidance only and not a substitute for completing full searches on this forum, having regard to the advice of others, or seeking appropriate professional opinion.
    Without Plain English Codes of Practice and easy to complete Prescribed Forms the current law is too complex and is thus neither fair to good tenants nor good landlords.

    #2
    Get specialist advice NOW for the asbestos.

    Landlord cannot recover costs for his own time.

    (Set up that company and recharge yourself!)

    Comment


      #3
      Originally posted by attilathelandlord
      Get specialist advice NOW for the asbestos.

      Landlord cannot recover costs for his own time.

      (Set up that company and recharge yourself!)
      Thanks Attila
      1. Fortunately I am a retired Environmental Health Officer. I have checked the latest information concerning asbestos cement panels on the HSE website and the advice of various local authorities.

        I have also checked Health and Safety policies (including one for a University). All concur that asbestos cement is low risk when sealed (or encapsulated) - e.g when fully protected by unbroken paint surface. Some local authorites merely advice sealing asbestos cement panelled doors in plastic before taking them to a Civic Amenities disposal point.

        There is no Government health policy that recommends the removal of asbestos panelled products that were in general use to meet earlier Building Regulations requirements.

        Attila's gut reaction of "get specialist advice" suggests that the public may not be aware that asbestos cement fire door panels whilst fully painted and unbroken constitute a negligible risk of causing asbestosis.

        On our inventory I have indicated items of special value and an agreed replacement cost. I would be happier on reclaiming very expensive specialist repairs if I had documented advice to the tenant that the internal doors of the property were fire resistant and if damaged would need expensive specialist repair.

        My statements as a former EHO with lapsed CPD are no substitute for paid specialist advice !

        The original intentions of the Building Regulations for fire protection are defeated by tenants wedging the doors open but this is a self-contained flat conversion.

        The tenant is unemployed and the guarantor is on a modest income in the Civil Service. My conclusion is that it is best to accept my safety repair to reseal the damaged asbestos cement panels - even although the repair does showin so far as there is small raised, but neat, area of an additional protective panel.
      2. I note that both you and Paul provide different advice concerning charging for the landlord's time and work.
      3. I have both a dormant Limited Company (any offers £2000 shares fully paid up and £2000 business loss shown!) and a dormant Partnership both of which are in family ownership. I'm not sure it would be worth disturbing the peace of Inland Revenue by re-activating either of these businesses for the relatively small amount of tenancy incurred costs that are a one off blip in eight years of fairly continuous and satisfactory lettings. In any case these damages show as legitimate losses on the property "business" account.
      Vic - wicked landlord
      Any advice or suggestions given in my posts are intended for guidance only and not a substitute for completing full searches on this forum, having regard to the advice of others, or seeking appropriate professional opinion.
      Without Plain English Codes of Practice and easy to complete Prescribed Forms the current law is too complex and is thus neither fair to good tenants nor good landlords.

      Comment


        #4
        Yes I understand there is a whole industry grown up around the myth of asbestos and people are charged a humungous amount of money for repairs which are not necessary.

        a) I'm not an expert in asbestos so would need specialist advice.

        b) as a landlord i would very probably be invalidating my insurance if i didn't get that advice and works done. It would be just my luck if one of my tenants took it into my head to sue me for some nefarious reason because they thought I'd been negligent in repairing the door. Try telling the insurance company that you thought it would be ok to fix an asbestos problem yourself

        c) tenant of mine actually died from cancer after years of stripping out fire doors in the bad old days.

        Do you want to take that risk?


        Also, a landlord cannot charge for their time, whether repairs, callout charge or cleaning etc.

        You don't have to set up a limited company with all the costs involved, why not be Mr x trading as Asbestosrus.

        Comment

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