All Landlords have a duty of care to ensure that the water systems within their properties are safe for users, and in particular that they limit the risk of Legionella bacteria (which can cause Legionnaires’ Disease) being present in the system.
The majority of rental properties fall into a relatively low-risk category when it comes to the presence of Legionella. However, it is still vital that as a responsible Landlord, you ensure risk assessments are completed at appropriate intervals, and that adequate Legionella control measures are put in place. These controls are not only important for the welfare of your tenants, residents or visitors to the property, it is in your own interests to avoid potentially serious legal repercussions (including a possible criminal conviction) which could ensue if you are found to be negligent.
Confidence in your water system
How can you have confidence that the water system in your rental property complies with the latest guidelines (ACOP)? It is recommended that a risk assessment is carried out on the water system of all rental properties, by an Accredited Assessor, and that a certificate of compliance is issued.
This is where HouseCert can help you – our Accredited Assessor will carry out a site survey, and provide a written risk assessment, certificate of compliance and schematic plan of your water system. Our aim is to provide you, the Landlord, with evidence that if needed, would satisfy a court that you have done everything within your power to prevent a case of Legionella.
How can I get a Legionella Risk Assessment?
HouseCert is a local one stop solution for all Landlords with properties in Cheshire, North Wales and The Wirral. Among our services, we offer a complete package of a written risk assessment delivered by our Accredited Assessor, a certificate of compliance and schematic plan of your water system. If the water system or Legionella controls are found to be inadequate, we may also be able to give you a quote for remedial actions.
- Carried out by our locally-based Accredited Assessor, the site survey will usually take around 1 hour (or possibly more, time is dependent upon factors such as the complexity of the water system).
- If the system or controls require remedial actions, we may be able to provide a competitive quote for the work, to be completed by qualified personnel.
- The report and certificate will usually be issued within 24 hours of completion of the site survey or completion of any remedial work.
Where Landlords request multiple services, our aim is always to complete everything within one visit, causing minimal disruption to tenants.
How often does a Legionella Risk Assessment need to be completed?
Properties are classified according to risk – properties with combination boilers are classified as low risk, and therefore it is recommended that a Legionella Risk Assessment is completed every two years (24-monthly intervals).
Other properties, where hot and cold water is stored in tanks, are recommended to be assessed every year (12-monthly intervals).
What is ACOP?
This is guidance (last updated in January 2015) which states that Landlords would henceforth have a duty of care to carry out risk assessments, and to ensure that there are adequate control measures in place to limit the risk of Legionella being present in water systems.
Failure to comply to ACOP guidelines is not actually treated as an offence in law. It is however a criminal offence to contravene The Health & Safety at Work Act 1974, COSHH 2002 & MHSWA 1999, and if a case of Legionella were to occur, the failure to comply with ACOP could be brought up during court proceedings. It is a sad fact that Landlords are under pressure from many sides, and it makes sense to make sure you are covered in the event of potential prosecution.
Why is Legionella a problem?
Legionella bacteria are frequently encountered in the natural world – in rivers, ponds, streams and waterways, where they are unlikely to do any real harm to humans. The problem comes when the bacteria reach domestic water supplies, where temperatures are higher and there are nutrients present – the bacteria can then flourish and multiply.
If Legionella bacteria is present in a water supply, and droplets of water containing the bacteria are breathed in, the result can be a potentially fatal disease called Legionnaires’ Disease.
Legionnaires’ Disease is similar to pneumonia, and although it isn’t infectious (it can’t be passed from person to person) in some cases (in older individuals or where an individual’s health is impaired in some way), it can be fatal.
Legionella bacteria can survive in low temperatures, grow best at between 20°C and 45°C, and can be killed at 60°C and over. The bacteria are able to use the typical residues found in the bottom of water storage tanks (sludge, rust, limescale, organic debris) as food. For this reason, properties with water storage tanks and hot water cylinders are regarded as at higher-risk of Legionella infection.
What preparation is required for the Risk Assessment?
Risk of Legionella is established via a site survey, which will involve an inspection of the total water system, including the hot-water and cold-water tanks (which are often to be found in the attic, therefore access will be required).
The hot water system will need to be switched on for the purposes of the survey, as water temperature readings form a part of the assessment. Also included in the survey are water outlets, shower heads, outside taps if present, and any other relevant parts of the water system.
What do I need to do next to get a Legionella Risk Assessment?
Simply call us on 01244 422101 to arrange a visit or get in touch via our contact form