Legionella – Be Safe, Be Legal

by | Nov 19, 2015 | Lettings | 0 comments

Recent changes to the Residential Lettings Market have put the responsibility for combating Legionnaires Disease on Landlords for any property that they own.
New Health and Safety legislation requires that landlords carry out risk assessments for the legionella bacteria which causes legionnaires’ disease, and from there onwards implement control measures to minimise the risk. Most residential premises will be low risk however it is important that risk assessments are carried out and control measures are introduced.
Legionnaires Disease is pneumonia like illness caused by the Legionella bacteria and can be fatal. The infection is caused by inhaling small droplets of contaminated water. Stored and recirculated water is a particular risk. The disease cannot be passed from one person to another.
Legionella bacteria are found in the natural environment and can contaminate and grow in water systems including hot and cold water systems, water storage tanks and especially where water has been left stagnant for a period of time. The bacteria can be spread via showers and taps, especially if they have not been used for some time. They can survive in low temperates and thrive at between 20 – 45°C (68 – 113°F). They are killed at high temperatures of 60°C (140°F).
Landlords are duly bound to ensure that the risk of exposure to their tenants and any visitors to the property is properly assessed and controlled.
Safeguards may involve disinfecting water systems, cleaning shower heads, removing stagnant water tanks from systems, insulating pipe work, and keeping water cisterns properly covered and free of debris
There is no reason why landlords cannot carry out the risk assessment themselves so long as they are competent; however we would strongly recommend that in the first instance these are carried out by a qualified professional contractor. Guidelines specify annual risk assessments and require records are kept for at least five years. Most systems only need a risk assessment and no further action required, but having the evidence available that the risk assessment has been carried out is important.
The other side is assessing the vulnerability of the people that will be living in the property: Tenants who are older than 45 years, smokers and heavy drinkers, those suffering chronic respiratory or kidney disease, and anyone with an impaired immune system is at a greater risk of infection.
At Malcolms Professional Property Management, for properties that we manage we arrange Legionella testing to be carried out as standard and issue tenants notices advising them about these risks and how to combat them by running water off and cleaning shower heads regularly.
If you would like any future information on this or guidance on this topic please do not hesitate to contact me at the Huntingdon Office on 01480 447 457 or email me: lettings@malcolmsproperties.co.uk

Simon Smith

Lettings Manager at Malcolms Estate Agents
My series of blogs on the lettings market are designed to provide interesting and useful information to both well established landlords and people looking to enter the market for the first time. The legislation regarding lettings is often extensive and constantly changing, but I hope my blogs will make it easier to understand and keep you updated.

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