As a landlord am I responsible for Legionella?

As a landlord am I responsible for monitoring my property for Legionella?

Question

As a landlord am I responsible for monitoring my property for Legionella?

Answer

Yes, any Landlord of a residential property is responsible for helping to combat Legionnaires disease.

You are responsible by law, to carry out risk assessments to check for the presence of Legionella Bacteria, the bacteria which causes Legionnaires disease. The disease, caused by inhaling infected drops of water, is similar to pneumonia and can be fatal.

Legionella can be found in both hot and cold domestic water systems, thriving at temperatures between 20 - 45°C. The hardy bacteria can survive low temperatures, but are killed by high temperatures at 60°C or above.

You are required to carry out annual checks and adequate controls in order to control the spread of this potentially deadly bacteria – however this needn’t be complicated or expensive. You can carry out the assessment yourself, and in most residential properties the test will show that there is no risk to tenants.

All you need to do in order to check for Legionella is carry out a few simple tests on your property’s water system:

Check the temperature that water, especially in large tanks, is being stored at. If it is within the 20-45°C it poses a risk.

Check if water can stagnate anywhere within the property’s system – are there any long or redundant lengths of pipe? If so, consider removing these in order to remove the possibility of pooling stagnant water.

Check with the ‘Water Fittings and Materials Directory’ that none of the fixtures and fittings in your water systems are ‘Legionnaire friendly’ – certain materials encourage the growth of the bacteria and should be avoided if possible.

Ensure tanks and cisterns are covered and free from debris

If you identify a risk, you must treat the water in the system to kill the bacteria, encouraging your tenants to make sure that they make use of all the water sources in the property will also help ensure that the water is kept moving, and help prevent the build-up of any pools of water, keeping the system clean.

For more information on your duty as a Landlord, a downloadablePDF is available from the Health and Safety Executive

A more in depth document from the Health and Safety Executive on the Control of Legionella in Water Systems is available.

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