Legislation stipulates that duty holders – those with health and safety responsibilities for others – must take precautions to prevent risk of exposure to Legionella.
As a landlord, you come under the role of duty holder and either you or your letting agent need to be taking the appropriate action to protect your tenant’s health.
Legionnaires Disease – formed from legionella bacteria – is a type of pneumonia which is transmitted by inhalation of aerosolised water or soil contaminated by the legionella bacteria.
Although Legionnaires Disease is the most well-known product of legionella bacteria with 300-400 reported cases each year, the bacteria is also responsible for the contraction of Pontiac fever and Lochgoilhead fever.
Legionella bacteria are known to live and more importantly thrive in stagnant water heated at between 20°C and 40°C (the bacteria is dormant at under 20°C and does not survive above 60°C). Bacteria contaminated water can be created in hot and cold water systems, hydrotherapy baths and atomisers.
The most common guidance for rental properties is to make sure hot water cylinders store water at 60°C or higher, hot water is distributed at 50°C or higher and cold water is stored and distributed at below 20°C.
Research by another Scottish letting property agent found that the majority of households’ hot water was coming out at under 50°C, which significantly increases the chances of legionella bacteria growing.
Landlords are also advised to keep records and carry out regular risk assessments; this is also something your letting agent or property manager can undertake. If you do need to raise the water temperature, be careful not to raise it too high and test the temperature as of course you don’t want to scald your tenants.
Exposure to Legionella in a rental property can also be reduced by disinfecting water systems; insulating pipework and covering water cisterns and warn tenants to keep them free of debris.
As well as all the work being undertaken on your side, it is also wise to make your tenants aware of the risks of Legionella and advise them to regularly run/flush through water and frequently clean showerheads and taps to remove limescale and algae.
Landlords with concerns over their water supplies are advised to contact their local Health and Safety Executive (HSE) office, Environmental Health department or of course, an experienced letting agent like Letting Solutions.
The HSE has also issued additional guidance on its website which can be viewed here.
For any additional advice on letting your property, we would be happy to help and can be contacted on: 0845 520 1420.
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