Controlling Legionella – Advice for Landlords.
Private landlords are responsible for ensuring that water systems in their rental properties meet the health and safety legislation outlined in L8. Failure to do so could result in legal action. As the owner of the water system, there are several duties owners of rental properties are obliged to carry out.
- Carrying out a risk assessment
- Preparing a written scheme of control for risk prevention
- Implementation and management of the written scheme
- Recording and checking that activity carried out has been effective
- Appointing a responsible person to manage these tasks
Small residential properties are usually a low risk concern with regards to Legionella. This is because they are, more often than not, continuously occupied with all the water systems in use. As such, a risk assessment is likely to show that there is no further action necessary. Landlords however should take the following precautionary measures to ensure the water systems remain free of the Legionella bacteria, as specified by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).
- Flush out the system prior to letting the property
- Avoid debris getting into the system – cold water tanks should have a tight fitting lid
- Set control parameters water should be stored stored at under 20°C or over 60°C
- Make sure any redundant pipework identified is removed
If a property is unoccupied for a length of time, the risk of legionella occurring in the water system is greatly increased. Legionella bacteria thrives in stagnant water.
The HSE advises that “outlets on hot and cold water systems should be used at least once a week to maintain a degree of water flow and minimise the chances if stagnation.” If the property is going to be empty for a significant period of time, a suitable flushing regime should be drawn up, alternatively, the systems should be drained.
To prevent Legionella bacteria from causing a problem, landlords should request that tenants do not change the temperature setting of the water, and to regularly clean any shower heads that are in the property.