A recent change in Health and Safety Executive (HSE) legislation means landlords must now take steps to control Legionnaires’ Disease in their properties.

Previously, residential landlords were exempt due to their size, but the recent change means every property must now undergo a risk assessment for Legionella, which anybody can complete so long as they are competent.

The information below has been provided by the RLA www.rla.org.uk

What is Legionnaires’ Disease?
Legionnaires’ Disease is a pneumonia-like illness caused by the Legionella bacteria, and can be fatal. The infection is caused by breathing in small droplets of water contaminated by the bacteria, but cannot be passed from one person to another.

Legionella bacteria are found in the natural environment and may contaminate and grow in water systems, including domestic hot and cold water systems. They survive low temperatures and thrive at temperatures between 20 – 45°C if the conditions are right. They are killed by high temperatures at 60°C or above.

The risk assessment process
The assessment should include a site survey of the water system, and the assessor should understand the water systems and any associated equipment in the property in order to conclude whether the system is likely to create a risk from exposure to Legionella.
It’s important to identify whether:

  • water is stored or re-circulated as part of the system (particular areas of risk include water tanks, dead legs, shower heads and/or long runs of pipe work containing warm water)
  • the water temperature in some or all parts of the system is between 20 – 45°C (hot water should be stored in any tanks at 60°C)
  • there are sources of nutrients such as rust, sludge, scale and organic matters
  • conditions are present to encourage bacteria to multiply
  • it is possible for water droplets to be produced and, if so, whether they could be dispersed, e.g. showers
  • there are parts of the system that are used infrequently, e.g. guest bathrooms
  • it is likely that any of the tenants, residents, visitors etc are more susceptible to infection due to age, health or lifestyle and whether they could be exposed to any contaminated water droplets

After the risk assessment

If the assessment finds conditions for Legionella bacteria to grow, such as inadequate water temperatures or debris in water storage tanks, remedial work may be required in order to minimise the risk.

Educating tenants

It’s important that your tenants are informed of the potential risk of exposure to Legionnaires’ Disease and its consequences. In particular, they should inform their landlord/letting agent if they believe water temperatures aren’t reaching the correct levels, and clean, disinfect and descale showerheads regularly.

If you need help organising an assessment please contact us on 020 8690 7766 and ask for David, Ryan or Anthony.

If you have any queries on this matter, please don’t hesitate to let us know. Alternatively, you can find more information on Legionnaires’ Disease on the HSE’s website; http://www.hse.gov.uk/legionnaires/.

AS a Landlord if you do not comply and the HSE are called in to investigate problems then you would have no defence in court which could lead to fines of £40,000 plus, and prosecution in the worst cases resulting in corporate manslaughter charges.

Food for thought!