Landlords and Legionella : Your Questions Answered

Landlords are responsible for an extensive range of checks on their properties which most of you will be aware of, for example, safety tests on gas systems, electrical appliances and the requirement for an Energy Performance Certificate.

A lesser known requirement for landlords is the need to carry out a risk assessment for Legionnaire’s Disease which applies to ‘those with responsibility for the control of premises, including landlords’ according to the UK’s Health and Safety Executive.

In order to comply fully with these requirements, we’ve provided answers to the most frequently asked questions below:-

What is legionnaire’s disease? Legionnaire’s disease is a potentially fatal form of pneumonia which is spread by water droplets. Legionella bacteria has the ability to multiply in hot or cold water systems and storage tanks and can therefore be spread through showers and taps.

What must the risk assessments cover? All risk assessments must both identify and assess any potential sources of exposure to Legionnaire’s disease by your tenants.  If any at risk areas are identified landlords must take necessary steps to prevent or control those risks.

Who carries out the risks assessments? As a landlord you are personally responsible for ensuring the risk assessment is carried out.  If your property is managed by a reputable landlord, they will carry out this check for you prior to letting.  At Redstones, we incorporate this check as a standard part of our service to landlords who engage us to fully manage their rental properties.

What do the risks assessments involve?

According to the Health and Safety Executive, a number of very simple measures can be carried out to manage the risk of your tenants’ exposure to Legionnaire’s disease, including:-

  • Completing flushing out of the system before the property is let.
  • Ensure that debris is not contaminating the system. This means that where appropriate cold water tanks have a tight fitting lid..
  • Set controls, for example, ensuring that water is stored at a temperature of 60C.  Bacteria typically flourishes at temperatures between 20C to 45C.
  • The removal of any superfluous pipework.

Any areas containing stagnant water or outlets which are used infrequently, together with thermostatic mixing valves should all be thoroughly inspected.

Should I inform my tenants? It is essential to inform your tenants of any measures put in place to control the risk of Legionnaire’s disease, for example, ensuring that showerheads are regularly cleaned. This is especially important for tenants who may be more susceptible to infection such as elderly people or those with a serious illness. Tenants should also be made aware of the need to inform landlords if the hot water is not heating up properly. These checks can also be carried out during regular mid-term inspections or gas safety checks for example.

How long must records be kept for? Records and details of all risk assessment checks carried out must be kept for at least five years.

Failure to carry out risk assessments for Legionnaire’s disease may leave you at risk of fines or imprisonment.

Take the stress out of renting your property.  Contact Redstones today to discuss the wide range of services we offer to landlords.

If you’re new to the lettings market, you may also find our recent blog helpful – HMRC Cracks Down On Landlords