10 things landlords should know about legionella

Legionella Disease
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It is vital landlords provide their tenants with safe rental accommodation. Landlords should be aware of risks and threats at their rental property, and Legionnaire’s Disease is an issue that landlords need to recognise.

Legionella bacteria can cause serious illness, and in some cases, it can be fatal. While landlords aren’t legally required to test for Legionella, the impact the disease can have on tenants is severe. Therefore, landlords are advised to check for Legionella, protecting tenants from a critical health and safety hazard.

Legionella Disease

While the risk of legionella is low, there are still reported cases in the UK, and landlords should feel duty bound to minimise the threat at their rental dwelling.

What causes Legionella to spread?

Poor management or maintenance of a water system creates conditions where Legionella thrives. A rental property that suffers from stagnant water, dirty water tanks and corroded pipes are at higher risk of Legionella occurring.

Am I required to test for Legionella?

No, barring exceptional circumstances, landlords aren’t required to test for Legionella.

Am I required to undertake a Legionella risk assessment?

Yes. Landlords are legally required to review and assess potential health and safety hazards in their rental property, which includes Legionella.

What does a Legionella risk assessment include?

The risk assessment required depends on the water system at the rental property. The more intricate the system is, the more detailed the risk assessment will have to be. According to the HSE, a Legionella risk assessment should identify

What is Legionella?

Legionella is a bacteria, commonly found in minimal and harmless qualities in lakes, ponds and water sources. However, the bacteria multiply quickly in complex water systems,  where there is rust or lime-scale and when water temperature is between 20°C and 45°C. In rare circumstances, it can also spread in contaminated showers. Legionella can lead to some diseases, including the potentially fatal lung infection Legionnaire’s Disease, which is most common in the summer months.

Can I carry out the Legionella risk assessment?

If you are confident you can carry out the test to the expected standard, yes, but it may be best to leave this work to a specialist professional.

Do I have to keep a record of the risk assessment?

There is no legal requirement for you to hold a record if the risk assessment but if you don’t and an issue arises, it will be more difficult to defend against a claim.

What do I do if I find a risk?

Take remedial action. Draining the water system when the property is empty is a sensible step, removing any redundant pipework and then checking the water to make sure the cold water runs below 20°C and hot water runs above 60°C.

Can my tenants do anything to minimise the risk of Legionella?

Tenants should oblige by requirements stated in the tenancy agreement and take steps such as descaling and cleaning showerheads every six months.

What steps should I take to minimise the threat of Legionella?

  • Make sure debris cannot make its way into the system
  • Remove redundant pipework
  • Ensure the system is flushed out before you let rental property
  • Set control parameters regarding the temperature of the water
  • Switch to water heaters that don’t store water

If you are a landlord looking for assistance in dealing with Legionella risks or any letting issue, please get in touch. I have helped many local landlords, and as a specialist in this sector, I am always happy to assist you.

Matylda Nowak

CEO, Kings Accommodation

www.kingsaccomodation.co.ukLegionella Disease

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