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As Safe as Houses
Dealing with Asbestos in Social Housing

June 2009

This report by Dr Linda Waldman for UCATT, examines the problems of dealing with asbestos in social housing. Asbestos exposure causes several untreatable diseases, which can remain undetected for decades and can ultimately be fatal. In 2009, research revealed that the UK was experiencing an epidemic of asbestos related diseases. However, asbestos materials have been used extensively for more than a century, leaving many thousands of tons of asbestos in buildings at the present time.

The report illustrates the different ways in which social housing providers advertise, inform and deal with asbestos, demonstrating the limitations of policy and practice. It argues that the fundamental rights of secure tenants and the responsibilities of social landlords in relation to repairs, improvements and decorations, lead to confusion and contradictions which enhance the potential for asbestos exposure.

The report concludes that much more could be done to safely manage asbestos. It emphasises that the exposure to risks remain high due to the failure to inform all those at risk in houses and work and presents recommendations which would lead to vast improvement.

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