Landlords, or their agents, are responsible for ensuring that the risk of exposure in their property to the Legionella bacterium is properly assessed and controlled. This is not difficult to do and can either be outsourced or done by the landlord or their agent.
Legionnaires disease is a potentially fatal form of Pneumonia. Bacteria can develop in water systems where water has been allowed to stand. In most residential settings, a simple assessment may show that the risks are low and no further action may be necessary. Where water is in frequent use there is unlikely to be an issue, although landlords of eg student or holiday accommodation, where there may be periods of time when the property is unoccupied, should be especially prudent.
Where the water, especially hot water, supply is directly from the mains, with no storage tanks, the risk would be regarded as low. Where there are header tanks (usually in the roof) then these must have a full turnover of water, ideally at least once a week, and also have a tight fitting lid with no debris ingress possible.
- If a simple assessment shows the risk appears low and is being properly managed, no further action is needed. The following measures should also be taken:
- Always flush out the water system following a period of unoccupancy.
- Set the temperature of the calorifier to ensure any hot water is stored at 60°C or above and instruct the tenant not to alter this.
- Remove any redundant pipework.
- Tenants should be advised to regularly flush out and bleach showerheads, especially if they are not in frequent use, and to tell you if the water temperature drops.
This is just one example of the huge amount of regulation facing landlords, albeit based on common sense. But it can be hard for landlords to keep up with their legal responsibilities, which is why many landlords are increasingly turning to professional property management companies such as Move Lettings to help them get it right.