Landlords of residential/domestic type accommodation (housing, flats etc) have legal responsibilities for combating and preventing Legionnaires Disease. Health and safety legislation requires that landlord’s carry out Legionalla risk assessments for the Legionella bacteria which cause the potentially fatal Legionnaires’ disease.
Most domestic rented premises will be low risk but as it is a potentially fatal pneumonia type disease it is important that you risk assess your rented residential premises.
The Residential Landlords Association provides information on Legionella Risk Assessment For Landlords.
The Health and Safety Executive also provides specific guidance regarding Legionella Risk Assessments for residential accomodation.
What is Legionnaires Disease?
Legionnaires Disease is a pneumonia like illness caused by the Legionella bacteria and can be fatal in up to 1 in 3 cases. The infection is caused by breathing in airborne droplets of contaminated water from showers, whirlpool spas, water spray, cooling towers, etc. The disease cannot be passed from one person to another. The majority of outbreaks are single cases and it affects men more commonly than women and also those with suppressed immune systems.
Legionella bacteria are found in the natural environment and may contaminate and grow in water systems such as hot and cold water systems, showerheads and cold water tanks. They survive low temperatures and thrive at temperatures between 20 – 45°C if the conditions are right. The bacteria are difficult to kill with chemicals if the system is not kept clean and so cleanliness is essential in controlling the risk.
The HSE guidance states that domestic hot water system should be set at up to 60°C and water should reach 50°C at discharge within one minute. If it is set above 45°C this reduces the risk but remember the water may cool while in the system, especially if it is not properly lagged. You will need to consider the risk of scalding for those who are vulnerable, thermostatic valves can reduce the risk.
Even if there is no storage of hot or cold water in the system and the hot water system temperature is set above 45°C a risk assessment is still necessary, but straight forward. Suitable controls have to be introduced as a result of the assessment. There can be other factors which increase the risk of Legionnaires Disease e.g. dead legs, shower heads or long runs of pipe work which contain warm water. You can reduce the risk by proper design maintenance and operation of the system.
What is the Landlord’s responsibility?
There is a duty to assess the risk of exposure and if need be implement appropriate control measures.
You must consider the risks from Legionella that may affect anyone you employ and any members of the public, tenants and guests, and take suitable precautions. The responsible person should record the risks and precautions and review the assessment from time to time.
What does the landlord need to do?
As the person controlling premises you need to decide what water installations or systems on the premises may give rise to a risk of Legionella. You can carry out a risk assessment yourself if you are competent, or you can employ an external contractor who is.
A simple Legionella risk assessment may show that there are no real risks from legionella and no further action may be required. However, it is important to review the risk assessment regularly in case anything changes.
What happens if the landlord does not carry out his/her obligations?
The consequences can be serious. As a landlord you are legally required to manage properties so as not to expose tenants, residents and visitors to risk. Heavy fines or even imprisonment can be imposed especially if someone were to unfortunately die. You can be prosecuted even if there is an exposure to risk without anyone actually becoming ill.
Bradley Environmental offer residential/domestic property Legionella Risk Assessments and Testing to help compliance with current UK regulations including Health & Safety at Work Act and the COSHH regulations.
Prices from only £97.00 per property.
Contact a qualified and experienced Legionella and Water Risk Assessor at Bradley Environmental to discuss your requirements