Residential Landlords and why you need a Legionella Risk Assessment
In the UK health and safety regulations cover a wide array of buildings, work situations, not-for-profit organisations and other businesses. However, some residential landlords may not realise they too are required to adhere to some of this legislation. This is because the regulator, the Health and Safety Executive in this instance considers them to be operating a business when they let their property to tenants. A good example of where these regulations cross in to the world of residential landlords is the need to perform a legionella risk assessment. This involves a review of the water systems in their properties, to ensure the levels of legionella bacteria are kept within safe limits and so control the risks associated with the potentially serious condition, Legionnaires’ disease.
Will a domestic property pose a high risk of legionella?
Generally, domestic properties are not usually seen as high risk, but landlords must still conduct a legionella risk assessment to confirm this, and to make sure any risks that are spotted are properly managed – it is a legal requirement. It may well be that no further steps need to be taken to ensure the risk is kept at a low and acceptable level. However, a landlord can only be sure of this once the risk assessment has been completed.
Where can landlords get more information and advice on conducting legionella risk assessments on residential rental properties?
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has plenty of information on its website. Landlords can also seek the advice and services of an external company experienced in conducting risk assessments in these circumstances, such as Legionella Control International. However, the responsibility for assessing and managing the level of risk in each property remains with the landlord.
Where do the potential risks lie in rental properties for the domestic market?
Most domestic hot and cold water systems will not pose a big risk of legionella bacteria multiplying beyond safe levels if they are properly managed. However, shower heads, taps, unused sections of pipework, cold water storage tanks and hot water tanks could all pose a potential risk that needs to be assessed and dealt with.
This is perhaps most notable in situations where a property is left empty for some time. In these cases, the water systems should be flushed through regularly, and certainly before a new tenant enters the property.
If there is a hot water storage tank present, the temperature should be adjusted to remain above 60 degrees Celsius. The hot water at all outlets should reach a minimum of 50 degrees Celsius after one minute and the cold water should be a maximum of 20 degrees Celsius or below after two minutes. Thermostatic valves (TMVs) can be professionally installed in cases where the tenant may be at greater risk of harm from scalding water.
Reviewing your Legionnaires’ risk assessment
Even when a legionella assessment has been completed to a suitable standard, and you’ve actioned any recommendations made or it shows that no further steps need to be taken to reduce the risk, the Legionnaires’ assessment should still be regularly reviewed. This will ensure no changes take place that are overlooked, and which may pose a risk in the future. Since landlords are responsible for the safety of the properties they rent out, they must ensure all safety precautions are taken regarding legionella bacteria.
World-leading legionella risk management specialists
Our teams of legionella experts support clients across all regions of the United Kingdom and internationally, delivering professional water safety and legionella management solutions, hazard analysis. water management programs, legionella testing, independent compliance auditing, City & Guilds training and other environmental risk management services.
If you have questions about any of the issues raised above or you would like to speak with one of our specialists please call us today on 0161 877 0586 or contact us here.