A Question……….”as a self-managing landlord what have you done to protect your tenant from the risk of death and you from the risk of a manslaughter charge?”

Legionella Bacteria

This is an area most are unfamiliar with and it is important to have an overall understanding.

We at Hancocks take our responsibilities to our landlords seriously and we will keep you promptly informed of updates and amendments to the Law and revisions needed for consideration to enable compliance. Tenants safety is just as important as financial interest and we apply due diligence to protect them and clients from potential harm and prosecution.

The Law

A Legionella risk assessment is required by Law to properly assess the safety of the water system and its control in every rented property. Areas need to be identified that may influence the build-up and proliferation of Legionella Bacteria.This applies to the most basic of systems where only a simple assessment may be required.

Subject to the outcome, control and preventative measures should be considered and put in place where necessary. Assessments need to be regularly reviewed and when there are changes to the system, its use or other reasons to do so. Records should be kept for 5 years, including reviews and actions taken from the outcome. VISIT: www.hse.gov.uk/legionnaires

In more complex systems and where uncertainty exists, including the presence of those who are categorised ‘At Risk’; especially those who are immunosuppressant, a higher risk of exposure may be found.

It Is Important To Get It Right, Especially To Catch Those Extreme Cases.

If left unassessed and unmanaged effectively, legionella bacteria can develop undetected in our water systems and cause illness. In extreme cases it can be fatal and potential consequences severe, such as hefty fines, personal litigation and in the most extreme, charges of corporate manslaughter. There is obvious cause for concern and therefore the commercial risk also needs to be considered.

The risk of becoming ill from the bacteria in small domestic properties, especially those with less complex systems, may be low, but possible all the same. Potential risks naturally increase as individual system designs are more complex and additional factors may apply.

There will be aspects in some properties that may not apply to all, but generally only simple control measures are required and most matters that arise are usually dealt with during routine maintenance.

HSE had published, Essential Information for Providers of Residential Accommodation stating, `all premises with a water system are now within the scope of the revised ACOP. Also, recent research shows that legionella does occur in smaller domestic systems’. Fortunately, in less complex systems elaborate control measures are not usually required or the need for ongoing monitoring. Regular review of the assessment is however key. It is important that proper consideration be given to other aspects such as hidden, damaged and malfunctioning assets, which may be found and therefore affect the outcome.