Legionella testing for landlords: What you need to know

When it comes to health and safety, as a landlord you have certain legal obligations to protect tenants living in your rented property. This includes monitoring for the potential presence of Legionella.
Although Local Authority and HSE inspectors do not proactively assess Legionella exposure in rented homes, should one of your tenants become ill from the water system, then you could face legal action.
To protect your tenants’ well-being, it is therefore important to conduct appropriate checks and ensure that simple measures are put in place to minimise the risk. So, in this blog we run through everything you need to know about Legionella testing for landlords.

What is Legionella?

Legionella is waterborne bacteria which can cause a potentially fatal illness called Legionnaire’s Disease. Hot and cold water systems can provide breeding grounds for Legionella, especially when combined with the right conditions – such as rust, dirt and poor temperature regulation.
When conditions are favourable, bacteria can multiply and if contaminated droplets are inhaled, a person can become seriously ill.

Legionella Testing For Landlords

The risk of Legionella contamination in most domestic properties is considered to be fairly low. However, it is still a good idea to conduct regular assessments and identify any potential causes for concern.

You should also be especially vigilant if:

  • The hot water system in your property hasn’t been used for a while or isn’t used regularly. If your house or flat has been vacant for a while, regularly flushing or draining the system may be necessary. A stagnant water system is an ideal breeding ground for Legionella – in fact the HSE recommends using any water system at least once a week to keep the water flow moving.
  • The temperature of water is not running correctly. Legionella thrives in warm water so if water is not running hot enough, then action must be taken.

What measures can I take to protect my property against Legionella?

According to the HSE, a general rule to prevent Legionella is to ‘keep hot water hot, cold water cold and keep it moving’. Set the temperature of the hot water cylinder to 60°C and make sure the system is flushed out before letting out a property. In addition, you should also:

  • Ensure any cold-water tanks have a tight-fitting lid to stop debris entering the system
  • Remove redundant, old pipework
  • Encourage tenants to regularly clean shower-heads and report any changes in the water temperature immediately.

Here at Redrose, we provide a simple and convenient app, My Property File. This allows tenants and landlords to report and track maintenance issues.

What paperwork do I need to complete?

There is no requirement to produce a Legionella test certificate. And, unless you are an employer with five+ employees you don’t have to record the findings of any assessments. However, you might think it is a good idea to record your findings should any future problems arise.
Although many landlords are confident carrying out a simple test of their water systems, there may be occasions where professional support is needed.

The Redrose team can advise you on the best ways to keep your rented property safe and compliant. We can even arrange legionella testing for landlords, if required. To speak to us about any of our services for landlords, just get in touch on 01257 547062.

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