UK landlords advised not to be swayed by misinterpretation of legionella testing

Taylor Scott International News

Some consultants and letting agents in the UK are misinterpreting landlord’s responsibilities regarding legionella risks to their tenants, it is claimed. According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) they are using the revised L8 ACOP to suggest that new legislation has been imposed on landlords of domestic rented properties in relation to assessing and controlling the risks of exposure to Legionella bacteria of their tenants. ‘This is wrong, the legislation has not been changed and any misinterpretation or misunderstanding can impose unnecessary financial burdens on landlords where they are being charged for legionella testing and certificates they don’t actually need,’ said a HSE spokesman. He pointed out that whilst there is a legal duty for landlords to assess and control the risk of exposure to legionella bacteria, Health and Safety law does not require landlords to produce a Legionnaires testing certificate. ‘Legionella testing or sampling is generally not required in domestic hot and cold water systems and then only in exceptional circumstances,’ the spokesman pointed out. ‘Misinterpretation of the legal requirements by some consultants and letting agents about landlords responsibilities to manage and control legionella in domestic premises may result in unnecessary financial burdens being placed on landlords and tenants,’ he added. The HSE has produced free practical guidance for landlords available to on its website on how to manage and control the risks in your system. The spokesman said that following the guidance is not compulsory and landlords are free to take other action, but if they do follow the guidance they will normally be doing enough to comply with the law. The guidance says that simple control measures can help control the risk of exposure to legionella such as flushing out the system prior to letting the property and avoiding debris getting into the system by making sure that cold water tanks, where fitted, have a tight fitting lid. It also says that tenants should be advised of any control measures put in place that should be maintained, for example not to adjust the temperature setting of the calorifier, to regularly clean showerheads and to inform the landlord if the hot water is not heating properly or there are any other problems with the system so that appropriate action can be taken. When it comes to showers in most domestic settings the risks are reduced by regular use but in any case, tenants should be advised to regularly clean and disinfect showerheads. Instant electric showers pose less of a risk as they are generally cold water fed and heat only small volumes of water during operation. The guidance points out that it is important that water is not allowed to stagnate within the water system and so there should be careful management of dwellings that are vacant for extended periods such as student accommodation left empty over the summer. As a general principle, outlets on hot and cold water systems should be used at least once a week to maintain a… Continue reading →

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