17 Dec 2013

Legionella - Time for Landlords to Test the Water

Legionella - Time for Landlords to Test the Water

Katy Neithercut, Property Factor, comments on the implications of Health & Safety legislation regarding the control of legionnaires' disease for landlords.

Katy Neithercut, Property Factor, comments on the implications of Health & Safety legislation regarding the control of legionnaires' disease for landlords. 

In  November 2013, the Health and Safety Executive updated their approved code of practice  -  'Legionaires’ Disease: The Control of Legionella Bacteria in Water Systems', being the fourth edition of the guidance, originally released in 1991.  The updated code now states that landlords must take suitable precautions to prevent or control the risk of exposure to legionella

Legionnaires Disease is a potentially fatal lung infection caused by inhaling legionella bacteria, bacteria which can exist in any man-made water system, taps, pipe work and shower heads (amongst others).

The general public usually associate legionella with larger water systems (for example in factories, hotels, hospitals and museums, and cooling towers). It can however also live in smaller water supply systems used in homes and other residential accommodation.

As a result landlords are required to:

  • Carry out a risk assessment which will help establish any potential risks; and 
  • Implement measures to either eliminate or control risks.
  • To identify the risks in the water system  a competent person who understands the property's water system and any associated equipment should establish any possible exposure to legionella risks, as part of a risk assessment.

Some of the issues to be considered when carrying out the risk assessment include:

  • Where water is stored between 20C and 45C;
  • Where there is stagnant water in any area of the system;
  • Where there is rust, sludge, scale or organic mater in the water system;
  • Where there are any outlets which are not frequently used (for example showers and taps in guest bedrooms); and
  • Where the tenant is particularly at risk due to age, illness or weakened immunity.

If it is discovered that the risks are insignificant and are being properly managed to comply with the law, the assessment is complete and the landlord will not need to take any further action.  However, it is important for the landlord to record the assessment and review the assessment periodically in case anything changes in their water and sewage system.

Aberdein Considine Property Management can arrange to carry out risk assessments and surveys for managed and non-managed clients.

Katy Neithercut, Property Factor


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