Legionella. The new laws covering Landlords

ALL landlords and letting agents in control of private rented properties are now required BY LAW to protect their tenants against the risk of contracting legionnaire’s disease.

Recent changes in the regulations surrounding Health & Safety legislation have brought domestic properties under the same legislative umbrella as commercial properties and new owners and managers of all private rented properties are required to comply with the law.

Under the legislation landlords and their agents must undertake a Legionnaire’s Risk Assessment at the property and implement control and preventative measures. The Assessment must be undertaken every two years by a ‘competent person’ , and the findings of the Assessment recorded and retained for a period of at least 5 years and reviewed each year or when a change of tenants.

How can you help protect me?

To help you we have highlighted your legal obligations below in order that you can comply the new legislation. We can combine a landlords gas safety inspection with a legionella risk assessment for £95

What is legionnaire’s disease?

Legionnaire’s disease is a potentially fatal form of pneumonia caused by the inhalation of small droplets of water from contaminated sources containing legionella bacteria. All hot and cold water systems in residential properties are a potential source for legionella bacteria growth. The main areas of risk are where the bacteria can multiply and increase to dangerous levels and then be spread, e.g. in spray from showers and taps, or in dishwasher and washing machine pipes.

Conditions ripe for colonisation are where water of between 20oC and 45oC stagnates, and where there is sludge, rust or scale for the bacteria to feed upon and multiply. Of particular risk, are older or poorly maintained water systems or vacant properties where stagnant water is more likely to build up and prove fatal to future occupiers. It only takes four days for legionella bacteria to multiply to dangerous levels and the results can be deadly.

Unchecked growth of legionella bacteria in water systems results in hundreds of cases of legionnaire’s disease EACH YEAR, causing approximately 30 recorded deaths and over 500 hospital committals with many more cases undetected.

The legislation which applies in this area is:

  • Health and Safety at Work Act 1974
  • Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002
  • HSE’s Approved Code of Practice: Legionnaire’s Disease and Control of Legionella Bacteria in Water Systems (ACOP L8)

As a Landlord, what do you need to do!

The dangers posed by legionnaire’s disease are real and potentially life threatening.

Although landlords are ever more burdened with increasing costs and regulation, outbreaks of legionnaire’s disease and enforcement action for failure to adhere to the law are most definitely on the rise. HSE are active in many areas right now.

Prevention is cheaper than litigation. The only way to ensure your properties are safe is to have them assessed, you can do this yourself if you are competent to do so and a number of organisations run courses you can take, ranging from £30 for an online course you can do in a few hours to 1 to 3 days in a class room environment costing +£400

You must:

  • Carry out a ‘Risk Assessment’
  • Undertake control and preventative measures
  • Eliminate potential risks
  • Keep records
  • Review regularly

Failure to comply with the law could result in criminal prosecution, a fine of up to £20,000 and up to 2 years imprisonment.

Most Domestic properties will require only a simple risk assessment, with basic measures in place to minimise the risks, such as:

  • flushing out the system prior to letting the property
  • avoiding debris getting into the system (eg ensure the cold water tanks, where fitted, have a tight fitting lid)
  • setting control parameters (eg setting the temperature of the hot water cylinder to ensure water is stored at 60°C)
  • make sure any redundant pipe work identified is removed.

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