Does a landlord need a Legionella risk assessment for their rental property?

Section 3(2) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 (HSWA)  requires landlords to ensure that their tenants are not exposed to health and safety risks. The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 (COSHH) provides a framework of actions to control the risk from a range of hazardous substances, including biological agents.

That all sounds very technical, but in lay terms it means there is a requirement for landlords of both domestic and business premises to assess the risks of exposure to Legionella. For the purposes of the HSWA 1974, landlords are considered an employer.

Does a landlord need a Legionella risk assessment?
Water tanks should have a tightly fitting lid and be free of biofilms, scale, rust and debris

What does a Legionella risk assessment involve?

A Legionella risk assessment involves assessing the whole of a property’s water system for any likely risk of Legionella bacteria being present in enough numbers to cause potential concern for the health and safety of persons using the property.

Among the areas a Legionella risk assessor will consider are:

  • Whether the hot water reaches 50℃ or above in one minute
  • Whether the cold water reaches below 20℃ in two minutes
  • Water tanks
  • Cylinders
  • Little or unused taps and showers
  • Showers and spray outlets
  • Spas, hot tubs and jacuzzi type baths
  • Bends in pipes and areas where pipes have been cut and capped
  • Is the property unoccupied?
  • Who uses the property
Do landlords need a Legionella risk assessment?
“Hot water should be stored at least at 60°C and distributed so that it reaches a temperature of 50°C within one minute at the outlets” Health and Safety Executive

Do I need to test the water for Legionella?

Risk assessing the property for Legionella is not the same thing as testing for Legionella. A Legionella test that is sent off to a lab is not usually necessary unless the Legionella risk assessment has exposed any areas of high risk.

What are the chances of contracting Legionella?

If there is someone living at the property, all water outlets are used daily and the property is not empty for more than two weeks, the risk is usually low.

One area to watch out for are water outlets which are used infrequently. This includes garden taps and hoses and that shower in the guest room. Risk of contracting Legionella is increased here.

There may be stagnant water in the pipes and the water may have heated to between 20℃ and 45℃ creating the optimal breeding ground for the Legionella bacteria. Scale and dirt may have built up on the spray and tap outlets which also feeds the bacteria.

Another big one is people from vulnerable groups. These people are at higher risk of contracting Legionella. There is no one thing that can protect a vulnerable person. Landlords should keep themselves and tenants well informed about Legionella, how to reduce risk and what to do if it is suspected. The definition of vulnerable is:

  • People over the age of 45 and new born babies
  • Smokers and heavy drinkers
  • People suffering from chronic respiratory or kidney disease
  • Diabetics
  • People with lung and heart disease
  • Anyone with an impaired immune system

Further information

Rosecroft Property Services has a leaflet which landlords can give their tenants to inform them about the risks of Legionella as well as how to reduce and prevent exposure to it.

The Health and Safety Executive also publishes information for landlords – HSE – Legionella and Legionnaires’ disease and Legionnaires’ disease – Legionella and landlords’ responsibilities

Questions or to book a Legionella risk assessment

At Rosecroft Property Services we are always happy to answer any questions you have about any of the services we offer. Contact us with your question or to book your Legionella risk assessment

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