Residential Rental Properties - a landlord's responsibility
The HSE approved code of practice (L8) advises that or individuals', who provide residential accommodation or who are responsible for the water system(s) in their premises, are required to ensure
that the risk of exposure to legionella in those premises is properly controlled. Thus, landlords of residential accomodtion have a responsibility to their tenants in this regard.
What is the Landlord's Responsibility?
As a landlord controlling premises you need to decide if there if there are water installations or systems on the premises which may give rise to a risk of Legionella bacteria being present.
You may delegate this task to a managing agent but it remains your responsiblity to ensure it is carried out.
Is a full Risk Assessment necessary?
Where the initial assessments demonstrates that there is no reasonable foreseeable risk, or that risks are insignificant, are unlikely to increase and are properly managed, then no further
assessment is needed. However, you are still required to appropriate control measures in place, to minimise the risk of your tenants being exposed to the bacteria. You must bear in mind that som
eof them may be particularly vulnerable to infection.
Who is vulnerable to infection?
Anyone with a weakened immune system, through age or illness or certain edical treatments, is regarded as being in the 'vulnerable' catergory. People suffering from medical conditions that
affect the heart and lungs, asthma for example, are also vulnerable. As you will probably not be aware if you tenants fall into any of these categories, then it is prudent to assume that they do and
put onitoring procedures in place, to ensure that no legionella bacteria are present in the property's water system.
Whats happens if the landlord does not carry out his/her obligations?
The consequences can be serious. As a landlord you are legally required to manage properties, so as not to expose tenants, residents and visitors to risk. Heavy fines can be imposed if you
fail to do so and if someone was unfortunate enough to die from Legionnaires' disease contracted at your property you could even face imprisonment.
What does the landlord need to do?
Make sure you or your letting agent put regular monitoring in place. The easiest way to do this is to test the water system on a regular basis, at least once a year, to ensure there are no
bacteria present. You should be especially vigilant if your property has been empty for any length of time, between lettings for example.
Who are 'at risk?
Not only the elderly are at risk of contracting the disease. Anyone who has a weakened immune system, due to health problems or deliberate suppresion, following organ transplantation, for
example, is at high risk. Also, those especially vulnerable with heart or lung problems, such as asthma.
You will probable not be aware if any persons in a building fall into these 'at risk' categories. Therefore, its safer to assume that some do and test the water system for legionella bacteria on
a regular basis