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Landlord guide to Legionella Risk Assessments

Landlord guide to

Legionella Risk Assessments

The following information is provided as a guide for residential landlords in England. Regulations may change (sometimes at short notice) or could vary in other parts of the United Kingdom.

What is a Legionella Risk Assessment?

This risk assessment is for the Legionella bacteria which cause Legionnaires’ Disease, a pneumonia-like illness caused by the Legionella bacteria which can be fatal. The infection is caused by breathing in small droplets of water contaminated by the bacteria. Legionella bacteria are found in the natural environment and may contaminate and grow in water systems, including domestic hot and cold water systems found in residential properties.

Does your rental property need one?

Health and safety legislation requires that landlords carry out risk assessments for the Legionella bacteria which cause Legionnaires disease and thereafter maintain control measures to minimise the risk. Most rented premises will be low risk but it is important that risk assessments are carried out and control measures introduced.

What is the penalty for not being compliant?

Legislation states that landlords must ensure a duty of care is shown to their tenants’ with regard to their health and safety, therefore a Legionella Risk Assessment is highly recommended.

At present no specific certificate exists and risk assessments vary. In addition to this no specific penalty is outlined (although this may change in the future), however if landlords do not take their duty of care seriously they could face penalty under one of the following:

  • The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 (HSWA).
  • The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 (COSHH).
  • Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2018.

From our experience:

“Although many landlords have heard of Legionella many are unaware of the risks posed in a residential property and the need to carry out an adequate risk assessment.”

– Property Management Team – 

How often and when does a risk assessment need to be carried out?

It is recommended Landlords review the assessment periodically, especially if there are any changes to the system.

What else do landlords need to know?

Many simple control measures can help control the risk of exposure to Legionella, these include:

  • Flushing out the system prior to letting the property
  • Avoiding debris getting into the system (eg ensure the cold water tanks, where fitted, have a tight fitting lid)
  • Setting control parameters (eg setting the temperature of the hot water cylinder (calorifier) to ensure water is stored at 60°C)
  • Identifying and removing any redundant pipework.

In summary:

  • Landlords must ensure a duty of care is shown to their tenants’ with regard to their health and safety, therefore a Legionella Risk Assessment is highly recommended.
  • No specific certificate exists and risk assessments will vary.
  • It is recommended Landlords review the assessment periodically, especially if there are any changes to the system.
  • If a landlords do not ensure a duty of care is shown to their tenants’ could face penalty under several different pieces of legislation including The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 (HSWA).
  • Many simple control measures can help control the risk of exposure to Legionella in a residential property.