Around £150,000 has been put aside by Three Rivers District Council to investigate and potentially remove asbestos from an estimated 700 homes in the district, a Watford Observer investigation has learned.

When the council sold its housing supply to Thrive Homes in 2008, there was an agreement in place that stated Thrive Homes would pay for the first £1 million worth of asbestos investigations and removal.

The Watford Observer has learned that this figure was reached during 2014 and the authority has now started budgeting for future removal of asbestos in the district.

A leaked email shows Thrive has completed work on around 3,000 of the 3,700 homes it is responsible for in Three Rivers.

The same email also indicates the council was looking to budget around £300,000 for further asbestos investigations and removal, however Councillor Matthew Bedford, lead member for resources at the authority, has now confirmed £150,000 has been set aside in this year’s budget.

He said: "Thrive Homes is still responsible for doing the work and as long as they can prove the work is necessary and value for money, Thrive can ask the council to reimburse them for the costs of the work."

Another leaked document refers to the council being prepared to budget for the annual cost of the asbestos removal over the next fourteen years.

However, Councillor Bedford said: "To be honest, we do not know what the phasing will be. We are in Thrive’s hands in that respect, because Thrive has the responsibility to deal with the work but they are able to claim some reimbursement from the council."

In a written statement, Thrive Homes said: "The health and safety of Thrive tenants is always our priority.

"We have an ongoing process of inspecting homes and removing any asbestos safely if required, in line with all regulations and best practice. Any legal discussions relating to funding will not affect this work.

"Asbestos used to be a common building material and poses minimal risk if left undisturbed or if any removal is carried out within the strict safety regulations."

Full details of the agreement between Thrive Homes and Three Rivers District Council are expected to be released in late February.