Landlords have responsibilities for combating legionnaires’ disease. This includes carrying out regular health and safety risk assessments in a rented property.
This article is intended to give landlords guidance on legionnaires’ disease, as well as highlighting the necessary checks involved in doing so.
What is Legionnaires’ Disease?
Legionnaires’ disease is caused by legionella bacteria. The infection is caused by breathing in small droplets of water, which can be fatal.
Legionella bacteria isn’t contagious. It develops in hot or cold water systems whenever water stands still for a long period of time. Please bear this is mind, especially if you have an empty rental property. Ensure you use your water system at least once a week. Failure to do this, increases the chances of bacteria multiplying in your water system. This is something you do not want to happen.
Note: The perfect temperature for legionella to thrive is between 20 and 45°C.
Landlords have a duty to protect tenants, residents and visitors. It is their responsibility to check for legionella bacteria in their property and not the tenants.
Landlords can conduct their own rental property risk assessments or call in an expert to do so on their behalf.
What details should you capture as part of the risk assessment?
Always capture the type of water system(s) installed in the property. Record water temperatures and any other findings you come across too. It’s always helpful to have photographic evidence on file, so take plenty of photos and keep them safe with your findings.
Legionella risks are usually low in many residential settings but it is still so important to check, especially if you own:
- Houses or flats with small domestic type water systems
- Properties where the water turnover is high
Never take the risk. Always make sure control measures are properly in place. Clean your shower heads regularly and check your hot water temperatures. This will make a huge difference to your property.
Landlords have a duty to ensure all water systems are used at least once a week. This is so important in properties that are left empty for long periods of time.
We would always advise completing a risk assessment prior to new tenants moving in. This is the only way to know for definite that your property is safe from legionella.
How can you minimise the risk of legionella developing?
- Regularly check your cold water is below 20 degrees C. As legionella only thrives in water between 20 and 45 degrees C.
- Regularly flush through infrequently used showers and taps
- Ensure your water tanks are properly covered up. This should stop mice, birds, insects and other nasties getting in
- Remove any pipes that are no longer in use
Tenants should inform their landlord or property manager immediately if they suspect any signs of legionella.
Spotting the signs of Legionella
There are both visible and physical signs of legionella. However many people do not know what these signs are.
Visible signs can include:
- Cold water running warm
- Discoloured water
- Debris water
- A malfunctioning boiler or hot water system
Physical symptoms can include:
- Muscle Pain
- Fever that is (40 C) or higher
Tenants can reduce their susceptibility to legionnaires’ disease by cleaning shower heads regularly and flushing through any unused water outlets.
Hot tubs, swimming pools and spas however need further attention. Legionella bacteria thrives in these environments. Therefore landlords owning properties with these features should be extra vigilant. Checks ideally need to be done daily.
Legionella control is just one of many landlord responsibilities. We will soon be advising you on other landlord legislation’s. So keep a look out for this over the next few days.
Property Management Service
Don’t want to have this worry? Unsure if your property needs a legionella risk assessment completing? Let us help.
We can look after all of your legal responsibilities under our property management service. Whether you have one rental property or a substantial portfolio we’re here to make sure things go smoothly.
To find out more about our Award Winning service, give us a call today on 0115 981 9651.