Landlords and Legionella

by  PHX Water on  05/03/2020    289 Reads

If you own property with tenants in situ, you have a duty-of-care to make their safety a number one priority. If you are renting out an entire house/flat, or if you are renting out a short-term room via a service like Airbnb, or booking.com you are still responsible for the tenant's health and safety.

When it comes to Legionella, the risks are low when it comes to domestic properties. This is wholly down to the fact that most water supplies come from the mains and generally, the systems are regularly used. When water temperatures are between 20-45C, your water supply is at risk of the Legionella bacteria developing. It's this environment that allows the bacteria to thrive. When water temperatures are below 20C, the bacteria will remain dormant and quite simply can't survive. Equally, this is the case when temperatures are above 60C. nine times out of ten domestic water is either too hot or too cold for the bacteria. It's not advisable to do nothing, however as there is still that one time out ten where things could go wrong.

When should you take action?

Have you ever wondered why your landlord has a requirement that you must inform them if you are going to be away from the property?

It's not so they can only arrange gas and electric services or maintenance. At the same time, while you are on holiday and not interrupting your regular home routine. It's so they can ensure your supply doesn't develop the environment where Legionella comes to life. The prime time for this is during the summer months when ambient temperatures are increased.

If you are a landlord reading this right now, make sure you flush the system out before new tenants move in to reduce the likelihood of Legionella taking control of your system. Additionally, you could (as the landlord) take water temperatures to ensure that the hot water is above 60C. Also, make an effort to cover water tanks to prevent any debris slipping in.

What can you ask your tenants to do?

Tenants do have a responsibility to minimise Legionella risks. If there are issues with the hot water system and supply, they cannot delay in informing you. They should clean and disinfect showerheads to prevent limescale or mould build-up. Doing this means there is a reduced opportunity for the Legionella bacteria to develop and spread.

Are there any legal requirements that landlords must observe about Legionella?

Yes, by law, landlords must:

  • Conduct a Legionella risk assessment
  • Introduce necessary measures that reduce the risks posed by Legionella to your tenants
  • Ensure that tenants are protected from the posed risk by Legionella

Legionella water sample test certificates are not a legal requirement; however, a landlord could be held liable to prosecution under the Health and Safety Act.

If a tenant were to contract Legionnaires' disease from a water system in their home, the landlord could be prosecuted. The landlord would have to submit evidence in a court that they had completed all their legal responsibilities under the Health and Safety at Work Act and Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH). A written record of a Legionella risk assessment would be deemed adequate and appropriate evidence by a court.

Take action now!

Enough said, right? Well, let's talk. Here is what we can do to support you.

Our assessors are experienced in all types of systems and will perform:

  • Full assessments of all site assets with photographic evidence
  • Legionella control scheme documentation
  • Full system & outlet survey
  • Summary schematic of the water system
  • Practical recommendations
  • Check of all legal and guideline requirements
  • Health & Safety Executive ACOP L8 & HSG 274 guidance
  • Coverage of HTM04-1 for Healthcare premises
  • Coverage of HTM01-05 for Dental premises
  • Alignment with BS8580

We can also help with remedial action plans that are tailored to your requirements.

Legionella, Legionella Bacteria, Private Landlords, Risk Assessments

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