Many Landlords are not aware that the HSE legislation regarding the control of legionnaires disease applies to residential lettings and the legal responsibility sits with the Landlord. This means that all residential lettings must have a legionella risk assessment carried out.
Legionnaires’ disease is caused by water borne bacteria and is a potentially fatal form of pneumonia. It is typically found in water systems or stagnant water and as a landlord you have a responsibility to carry out a risk assessment on your property and ensure you efficiently manage any risks that are identified there. Legionella bacteria can multiply in water systems and can then be spread by spray, eg, from a shower. It is therefore important that you are aware of the risks and what you should consider when carrying out a risk assessment of the property.
When carrying out a risk assessment you should consider the following points:
- Is the temperature right for the bacteria to survive in all or part of the system? This is around 20 – 45 degrees Celsius
- Is the water stagnant or is the outlet infrequently used in the property?
- Is there any waste in the pipe that could provide a source of food for the bacteria?
- Is anyone who visits the property particularly vulnerable to the bacteria, eg, elderly people or those already ill
If your answers to these questions are no then you do not need to take further action, however it is advisable to review your risk assessment at regular intervals.
Should the answer be yes to any of the questions it is your legal responsibility as landlord to take the necessary steps to manage this risk. Any tenants of the property should be advised of the risk, the water system kept free of debris and you should ensure water cannot stagnate in the system by running outlets regularly in unoccupied rooms and removing any redundant pipework. Water in the hot water cylinder should also be kept at an appropriate temperature at which the legionella are unable to survive. Any staff who handle the maintenance of the property should also be briefed on managing risks.
It is also necessary to ensure records are kept on the risk assessment and any steps you have had to take for a minimum of five years.
Full details from ARLA’s website can be found here.