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Legionella Testing: A Crucial Responsibility for Landlords to Ensure Tenant Safety.


·        Landlords are legally obligated to ensure that any property they manage is in accordance with UK health and safety legislation. Completing a legionella risk assessment is part of this process.

·        The Risk assessment required depends on the complexity of the water systems within the premises, in most cases a standard risk assessment will suffice.


Legionella testing for landlords

Landlords have a duty to ensure that the property or properties managed are safe for use by tenants.

Landlords who rent to tenants whether it be a single room or a landlord who rents out multiple properties are operating a business by the safety regulators and must therefore comply with the current health and safety laws such as the ACOP L8, COSHH and other important documentation.

As part of the HSE’s ACOP L8 a landlords responsibilities include making sure that there are no health hazards present that could lean to harm or illness to people using or visiting the property.

Do Landlords have to carry out a Legionella risk assessment by law?

It is the UK law that every landlord must conduct a legionella risk assessment for the property they are renting out.

Depending on the complexity of the water systems within the property will depend on the risk assessment required. In many cases a basic risk assessment will cover the requirements stated out in the HSE’S ACOP L8.

What are the potential risks in rental properties?

If hot and cold-water systems are properly maintained the risk associated with unsafe levels of legionella bacteria should not pose to much of a risk.

-        Where are the risks most likely to be present?

Taps, showerheads, unused sections of pipework, cold and hot water storage tanks can all pose a potential risk that should be assessed.

When a current tenant leaves a property or if a property is left empty for a long period of time the risk increases. Where there is a hot water storage tank present, the temperature should be adjusted to remain above 60 degrees Celsius. Thermostatic valves (TMV’s) can be professionally installed where the tenant is at greater risk of harm from scalding water.

As a landlord why should I be concerned about Legionella?

Legionella is a type of bacteria commonly found in natural water sources, but it can also thrive in man-made water systems such as hot water tanks, cooling towers, and plumbing systems. When the bacteria is aerosolised and inhaled, it can lead to Legionnaires' disease, a potentially fatal respiratory illness.

Legionnaires' disease Symptoms include:

  1. High fever

  2. Cough

  3. Shortness of breath

  4. Muscle aches

  5. Headaches

 Why is this a Landlords' Responsibility?

Landlords are legally obligated to provide safe and habitable living conditions for their tenants. This responsibility extends to maintaining water systems to prevent the growth and spread of Legionella bacteria. Regular Legionella testing is a crucial aspect of this duty, helping to identify and mitigate potential risks.

What other controls can be used to help landlords keep the risk of legionella as low as possible?

  1. Regular Testing: Implement routine Legionella testing in water systems, especially in large buildings with complex plumbing.

  2. Temperature Control: Maintain hot water systems at temperatures that inhibit Legionella growth and spread, it is advised that hot water should be stored at 60’c and reach the hot water taps at 50 ‘c.

  3. Cleaning and Disinfection: Regularly clean and disinfect water systems to eliminate potential breeding grounds for Legionella.

  4. Education and Communication: Inform tenants about Legionella, its risks, and the measures taken to ensure their safety.

Where can landlords get more information and advise on conducting a legionella risk assessment?

Landlords can speak with experts in the field to obtain advice on a legionella risk assessments and water compliance. Companies such as Absolute water compliance who have over 20 years’ experience in the field can provide expertise and guidance on your requirements.

Do landlords need to obtain a legionella test certificate to confirm a risk assessment has been completed?

While Legionella testing is crucial for maintaining safe living conditions for tenants, it's important to note that a Legionella test certificate is not required.

In some cases, landlords may prioritise preventive measures, such as routine testing and maintenance, without the formal documentation of a certificate. However, even if a certificate is not obligatory, landlords must remain vigilant about Legionella risks, implementing best practices and promptly addressing any issues to ensure the safety and well-being of their tenants.

Legionella control is not just a tick box exercise it is a vital step in protecting the health and well-being of tenants. With the increasing incidence of Legionnaires' disease, landlords must prioritize regular testing and preventive measures to mitigate the risks associated with these potentially deadly bacteria.

By fulfilling this responsibility, landlords contribute to creating safer living environments for their tenants, fostering trust, and ensuring compliance with health and safety standards.

Regular communication with local health authorities and staying informed about regional regulations is key to determining whether a Legionella test certificate is mandated in a particular area.

Expert Legionnaires’ and water safety specialists.

Absolute Water compliance are able to provide a team of water safety specialists to support landlords and those responsible for control of pathogens including Legionella bacteria and Legionnaires disease, ensuring that their tenants and others are protected by meeting health and safety obligations.

Absolute Water Compliance offers professional water testing, and legionella risk assessments by City and guilds qualified experts.

To speak with our team contact us on 01226491133 or fill in a contact form here.


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