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Legionnaire’s disease is a form of pneumonia that can potentially take the life of those who suffer from it. It’s contracted through inhaling water droplets contain the contamination. Every man made water system has the potential to be a breeding ground for Legionella. The organism can colonise in both large and small systems so it’s vital risks are reduced where possible.

As a landlord, the law states you have legal responsibilities to ensure the health and safety of your tenants is upheld and no hazards can be found in the property, this, of course, includes the presence of Legionnaire’s.

What should Landlords do?

Landlords must take practical and appropriate measures in order to reduce the risk of exposure to Legionella bacteria to their tenants, though luckily this doesn’t require a time consuming or in-depth assessment. Due to the regular turnover and high usage of hot and cold water in residential dwellings, the risk of Legionella is typically low.

A quick and simple assessment is all that’s needed as evidence that there is no real risk, if this is the case then no further action is needed.

Who can assess the risk?

You do not need to carry a specific accreditation in order to carry out a Legionella risk assessment, though if you do not feel secure in the task, professionals can be hired. Current Health and Safety law does not require landlords currently are not required to carry a certificate of Legionella testing, though it is prudent to do so. Check your water systems periodically for Legionella risk, this can be done methodically when doing mandatory gas safety checks. Though tests are not mandatory, if a tenant was to contract Legionnaires disease in your property, you may be prosecuted under HSWA.

Minimise Risk

Prevention is better than cure so ensuring the risk remains low is an appropriate measure to undertake for landlords. Temperature control is the most reliable way to keep the risk of the Legionella bacteria at bay. Hot water must stay hot, and cold water must stay cold and flowing, do not allow it to stagnate.

Other helpful tips to reduce the risk of Legionella bacteria are:

  • Flush the system out before a new tenant takes up residence
  • Minimise debris entering the water system by ensuring tight fitting lids are on all cold water tanks.
  • Ensure hot water cylinders are temperature controlled, the water must be stored at 60 degrees Celsius
  • Remove any unused pipework.
  • Reduce the risk further by installing combi boilers and electric showers that eliminate the need for water storage.

What Tenants Need to Know

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Ensure your tenants know if there are any measures in place to control the water temperature, and ask these are not tampered with. Advise them to clean and disinfect showerheads regularly and to report instantly if there are any issues with the heating or hot water in order to action to be taken immediately.

When the property is left vacant, water can become stagnant and the risk of Legionella bacteria is increased. Typically, landlords should ensure the hot and cold water systems are used once a week to maintain the water flow. If the property is going to be vacant for an extended period of time, many landlords choose to drain to the system to reduce the risk completely.

For more information on Legionnaire’s Disease contact Cityscape Glasgow Estate Agency  or visit:

http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/indg458.pdf  

http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/priced/l8.pdf