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Legionella and rented properties

Landlords must be aware of their responsibilities to ensure that the risk of exposure to legionella in rented properties is controlled and precautions taken to minimize the risk of exposure.

For a full guide visit the HSE website: http://www.hse.gov.uk/legionnaires/hot-and-cold.htm]

The HSE states that an employer or someone in control of premises, (including landlords) have a responsibility to: Undertake the duties in ‘what you must do’ to remove the risk from exposure to Legionella in the property.  The following controls are therefore recommended;

  • Carrying out a risk assessment;
  • Consider the susceptibility of staff and those more at risk of infection due to age, illness
  • Take action to prevent or control and risks
  • Review the risk assessment, particularly if there are significant changes
  • Keep records

Risk assessments must be carried out by competent persons to assess whether conditions are right for bacteria to flourish e.g. , low or no use of stored water storage facilities, temperatures between 20C and 45C favour growth of legionella bacteria.

The HSE advise inspecting areas of stagnant water, infrequently used outlets, thermostatic mixing valves and checking areas for debris.

The HSE provide advice on simple control measures to help manage the risk of exposure to legionella and suggests flushing out the system before letting the property, avoid debris getting into the system (e.g. ensure cold water tanks, where fitted, have a tight-fitting lid), ensuring any redundant pipe work is identified and removed, setting control parameters (hot water storage cylinders (calorifiers) should store water at 60C or higher, hot water should be distributed at 50C or higher (thermostatic mixer valves should be fitted as close as possible to outlets, where a scald risk is identified) and cold water should be stored and distributed below 20C.

For most residential lettings, the risk assessment is likely to show the risks are low, in which case no further action will be necessary, e.g. housing units with small domestic-type water systems where water turnover is high. If the assessment shows the risks are insignificant and are being properly managed to comply with the law, no further action may be required, but the HSE advise to review the assessment periodically in case anything changes in the system. However, the frequency of inspection and maintenance will depend on the system and the risks it presents. Legionnaires’ disease: Part 2: The control of Legionella bacteria in hot and cold water systems published by the HSE in 2014 gives further guidance for landlords on how to manage your duty in shared premises and residential accommodation (Pages 45 to 47).

Landlords must be aware that they are responsible for carrying out a risk assessment, however we would be happy to instruct a contractor to carry this out on your behalf, if requested by contacting our Beccles office on 01502470193 or info@olivers.co.uk