As Landlords, you will of course want to comply with the law. So when landlords are being told by letting agents, consultants etc. they must have their properties inspected by a consultant of legionella. The cost is approximately £80 per property, this is causing alarm!
Legionella risk and the management of this is a relatively recent development in the array of issues that landlords and agents are being asked to deal with, so there is the temptation to ignore this as being unimportant. However, this may not be sensible, despite the risk being low in almost all residential lettings.
The most significant change is the removal of the 300ltr limit for hot and cold water services in the revised ACOP and guidance on legionnaire’s disease. That means that all premises with a water system are now within scope of the regulations. Legionella is a bacterium in hot & cold water systems, tanks, pipes, showers and hot tubs. They are less common in domestic water systems but can exist. Legionella can survive in low temperatures, but thrive between 20-45 degrees C. Temperatures above 60 degrees C will kill them.
Legionnaires’ is a potentially fatal form of pneumonia. It can affect anyone, but higher risk if you are over the age of 45yrs, a heavy drinker, a smoker, suffer kidney or respiratory disease.
Landlords are under a duty to ensure that the risk of exposure to tenants, residents and visitors by legionella is properly assessed and controlled. In most residential settings, a simple risk assessment may show that the risks are low and no further action may be necessary.
Normally there would be no need to have an expert carry out the risk assessment so long as the landlord or letting agent is competent to identify the specific risks below.
The risk of legionella is minimised and control measures properly applied:
- Any redundant piping (dead ends) where water can remain stagnant, e.g. washing machine pipe is removed.
- Water is supplied direct from the mains avoiding water storage tanks, but where they do exist they must be clean, free from rust and other debris and have a tight fitting lid.
- Shower heads are cleaned, disinfected and regularly run at water temperatures of 60 degrees C or above and shower heads held in a position to avoid stagnant water in the head or flexible pipe.
- Water cisterns/ heaters are used regularly and have temperatures set above 60 degrees C.
- The full water system is flushed and water heaters and showers run at above 60 degrees C.
- Long void periods – landlords should ensure the system is flushed before new occupancy.
- Landlord/ Letting Agents carry out regular risk assessments and fully document this.
- It is recommended that this is done annually along with the gas safety check. You must keep records for a minimum of five years
- The landlord/ letting agent provides tenants with information on legionella at sign up.
The Health & Safety Executive (HSE) the body responsible for enforcing the law on legionella says:
“Health & Safety law does not require landlords to produce a legionnaires testing certificate. Legionella testing is only required in exceptional circumstances and generally not in domestic hot and cold water systems. Some letting agents and consultants are scaremongering landlords for financial gain, by misinterpreting
Last Updated: 27/07/2015