Landlords and Legionnaires Disease

As a landlord, you have a duty of care to your tenants and you must be aware of any potential dangers to the tenants health. 



What Is Legionella?

Legionnaires’ disease is a form of pneumonia caused by the inhalation of small droplets of contaminated water containing legionella. It can be found naturally in water sources such as rivers and lakes as well as in a domestic setting where it can multiply if water is stored between 20°C and 45°C. Showers, boilers and other small tanks may still support the growth of legionella organisms.



The Law:

Section 3(2) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 (HSWA) makes provision for relevant health and safety legislation to apply to landlords to ensure a duty of care is shown to their tenants’ with regard to their health and safety.

The general duties require under section 3(2) that "It shall be the duty of every self-employed person to conduct his undertaking in such a way as to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that he and other persons (not being his employees) who may be affected thereby are not thereby exposed to risks to their health or safety.".

Landlords, under Section 53 of HSWA are regarded as being self-employed and tenants fall into the class of “other persons (not being his employees)”. If you rent out a property, you have legal responsibilities to ensure you conduct your undertaking in such a way that your tenant(s) are not exposed to health and safety risks.


For more information please visit the HSE website - click here



Landlord Responsibilities:

Landlords are under a duty to ensure that the risk to tenants, residents and visitors by legionella is properly assessed and controlled. As a landlord, you have legal responsibilities to ensure that the property is safe and free from health hazards for your tenants.

In most residential properties where smaller domestic water systems are installed and there is regular water usage, a simple assessment should be carried out and where this shows the risks are low, no further action is required.

The risk is even lower where combi-boilers are installed and hot water is instantaneous, as there is no water storage but simple control measures will ensure the risks remain low.

If you identify any risks, you must take action to prevent or control them. This however may be as simple as routine planned maintenance.

It should be possible for you to assess the risk yourself, but you can obtain help and advice from a consultant, or other competent person if you consider it necessary.


For more information regarding this, please visit the National Landlords Association website - click here.



What Can You Do?

The risk of the disease is likely to be higher in properties which have been left empty for a period of time where the water has been left to stand in hot and cold systems.

It is advisable that water systems are used at least once a week. If the property is to remain empty for several months, it is best practice to drain the systems to prevent the bacteria from developing.

Simple control measures to help control the risk of exposure to legionella:

* Flushing out the system prior to letting the property

* Avoiding debris getting into the system

* Ensure cold water tanks have a tight fitting lid

* Setting control parameters

* Make sure any redundant pipework identified is removed



We Can Help You:

Here at Bournemouth Student Lettings, our property experts are qualified in carrying out Legionella tests.

If you would like information regarding this, please contact us on 01202 805060.