Landlords Legionella Responsibilities - Are Letting Agents Getting It Wrong?
Are letting agents getting it wrong regarding landlords’ Legionella responsibilities? It would seem so, according to a report issued on the UK’s Health & Safety Executive website. It would appear that some letting agents and property management consultants assume far more must be done in this sector than is actually required by law.
Legionella risk assessment and the need for water testing
The HSE have made it clear that every landlord must assess the risk for Legionella on every property they own and rent out. If any risk is identified, it must be suitably controlled. If no risks are present, no action need be taken, except to confirm the risk remains negligible at regular intervals. However, under normal circumstances there is no legal requirement for the landlord to get any kind of certificate to prove their water systems have been tested for Legionella bacteria.
Indeed, cases of Legionnaire’s disease are generally associated with water systems in commercial settings. This could be a business setting, a hospital or any location operating a large cooling tower or other water system, whether it is hot or cold in nature. Testing of any water system in domestic premises is very rarely required.
Do landlords’ need to test water for Legionella?
Unfortunately, the HSE has reported that some letting agents have incorrectly assumed that Legionella testing must be done in these situations, and that a certificate needs to be obtained. As a result, some landlords have ended up hiring an expert to perform these services, and to produce a certificate as well. This has led to landlords having to pay fees and laboratory charges when there was no need to do so.
Controlling Legionella, what must a landlord do?
Every landlord must ensure the property (or properties) they own and wish to rent out are safe for the tenant to stay in. There should be no danger present at all, and no potential risks or hazards that could cause the tenant (or anyone else, for that matter) any harm.
This does include risk assessing the water systems in each of their properties for any likely risk of Legionella bacteria being present in enough numbers to cause potential concern for the health and safety of their tenants. However, as we discovered above, domestic hot and cold water systems are rarely hot-spots for Legionella bacteria to thrive.
If landlords are in any doubt about their legal duties in this area, we would recommend that they visit the HSE website. The HSE have a guide that has been specifically produced with landlords in mind … here >>
Health and safety will always be an important area, and landlords do have responsibilities. However, these do not extend to getting unnecessary Legionella tests and certificates regarding the presence or absence of Legionella bacteria, however, as we now know.
Expert Legionella risk assessment and Legionella testing services
To find out more about our expert Legionella testing (water sampling) and Legionella risk management support services please contact us on 0161 877 0586 (Manchester) or 0203 637 47 48 (London).
152 City Road
London EC1V 2NX
Tel: +44 (0) 203 637 47 48
Unit B Badex Building
Manchester M17 1AY
Tel: +44 (0) 161 877 0586
For additional information about the managing Legionnaires' disease and the control of legionella for UK landlords … here