What must landlords do?
The practical and proportionate application of health and safety law to landlords of residential and small commercial rental properties is to assess the risk from exposure to Legionella to ensure the safety of their tenants. This does not require an in-depth, detailed assessment.
The risks from hot and cold water systems in most residential settings are generally considered to be low due to regular water usage and turnover. A typical ‘low risk’ example may be found in a small building (e.g. housing unit)with small domestic-type water systems, where daily water usage is inevitable and sufficient to turnover the entire system.
A simple Legionella assessment may show that there are no real risks and are being properly managed and no further action is needed. It is important to review the Legionella assessment in case anything changes in the system. Implementing simple, proportionate and appropriate control measures will ensure the risk remain slow. For most domestic hot and cold water systems, temperature is the most reliable way of ensuring the risk of exposure to Legionella bacteria is minimised i.e. keep the hot water hot, cold water cold and keep it moving. Environmental Inspection Ltd can undertake Legionella Risk Assessments of residential and Commercial properties which have hot and Cold water Systems.
What can the tenant do to minimise the risk of exposure to Legionella?
There are steps landlords can take to ensure the risk is managed but there are things that the tenant, as the resident in the property, needs to do to help manage the risk.
1). If you have been away for a week or more, run the water through to clear the water that has been sitting in the hot and cold water system. Turning on taps in basins and baths and flushing the toilets is the most effective. To wash through the shower head, put the shower head down in the bath or shower tray to avoid too many water droplets in the air. If you have been away in the summer the cold water storage tank could have sat for the whole time at over 20 oC, encouraging breeding. This however is less likely to be a problem in the winter when the cold water will be stored at a cooler temperature.
2) The hot water must be set above 45 oC to prevent breeding in the hot water tank. This means that each time the water is heated, it should be making it hard for the legionella bacterium to reproduce.
3) Run water through unused outlets. For example, if you have an en-suite in the guest bedroom, but this is not used very often, then ensure you run water through both taps on the wash hand basin and the toilet and shower periodically and certainly before anyone might be using those facilities. Environmental Inspection recommends that this is done at least every seven days.
Carrying out these simple precautions will dramatically reduce the risk of contracting any of the diseases associated with this bacteria.
For further guidance please contact Environmental Inspection or visit the Health and Safety Executive’s web site and search for their publication L8.