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Landlord Guide to Legionella Assessments

water droplets from a shower

This post explains what actions landlords need to do to assess the risk of Legionella in their water systems, and how to reduce any risk.

What is Legionella?

Legionella is bacteria that can grow in water stored between 20oC and 45oC.  Small droplets of water contaminated by Legionella can cause Legionnaires’ disease, a potentially fatal form of pneumonia.

What risk assessments should landlords carry out for Legionella?

Landlords have a legal duty to assess the risk from exposure to Legionella to ensure the safety of their tenants. However, the assessment doesn’t have to be done by a specialist. Sometimes letting agents say this is compulsory, but it’s not.

That said, it’s best practice for landlords keep a written record of the assessment.

Landlords should review their assessment regularly (best practice is once a year), and also if they make changes to their water systems.

How can landlords reduce the risk of legionella?

According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), the risk is low where there are no hot water tanks and cold water is directly from the mains with no storage tanks. The risk is also less where the daily water usage is enough to turnover the whole system. 

The cold water temperature should be below 20oC, and the hot water above 50oC. 

The HSE recommends that landlords reduce the risk further by doing the following:

  • Flush out the system prior to letting the property.
  • Avoid debris getting into the system (e.g. ensure any cold water tanks have a tight-fitting lid).
  • Set and maintain the temperature of the hot water cylinder at 60oC.
  • The water in the cold water tank should be below 20°C,and the tank insulated to prevent the temperature rising above this.
  • Install combi boilers and/or electric showers to reduce the need for water storage.
  • Clean shower heads regularly.
  • Remove any redundant pipework.

Here is an excellent free guide from the HSE.

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