Legionella - A landlord's guide

Legionella - A landlord's guide

Posted on Mar 30, 2016

Legionella - A landlord's guide



If you are a landlord, and rent out a property you own under a lease or a license that is shorter than 7 years, landlords' duties apply to you.

Landlords' duties apply to a wide range of accommodation, which includes premises provided for rent by:


  • private landlords
  • hostels
  • housing associations
  • housing co-operatives
  • local authorities


Why do I need legionella testing? A landlord’s guide

Even if you rent out a room within your own home, you have a legal responsibility to ensure the health and safety of your tenant/s by keeping the property safe and free from hazards to health.


What is Legionella?


Legionella is a bacteria that causes illnesses collectively referred to as 'legionellosis'.

Usually found in water, the bacteria typically thrive in lakes, streams, moist places such as soil and man-made water systems including hot tubs, fountains, cooling towers and large scale plumbing systems. All man-made hot and cold water systems are likely to provide an environment where Legionella can grow.

If not treated quickly and properly, infection caused by the bacteria can be fatal. Infection occurs when a person breathes in water vapour containing the bacteria.

More information on what Legionella is can be found in flick’s handy infographic, just click the button below.


what is Legionella - infographic


What is the law?


Section 3(2) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 makes provision for relevant health and safety legislation to apply to landlords to make sure 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."


The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 provides a framework of actions to control the risk from a range of hazardous substances, including biological agents (eg Legionella) - to identify and assess the risk, and implement any necessary measures to control any risk.


What do I need to do?


In most cases, what you need to do is simple and straightforward, and doesn’t have to be costly.

The risks from hot and cold water systems in most residential properties are generally very low, due to regular water usage and turnover. Putting in place simple and appropriate control measures will help you ensure the risks remain low.

Below are a few examples:


  • Monitor the temperature of the water system.
  • Flush out the water system prior to letting the property.
  • Avoid debris getting into the water system (if fitted, ensure the cold water tanks have a tight sealed lid).
  • Set control parameters, for example, set the temperature of the hot water cylinder to ensure water is stored at 60°C (this will avoid the growth of bacteria).
  • Make sure any redundant pipework is identified and removed.
  • If you can, opt for instantaneous electric showers, as they are generally cold water-fed and heat only small volumes of water during operation.
  • Encourage your tenant/s to regularly clean and disinfect showerheads.


When it comes to legionella testing, and assessing the risk, you can do this yourself - and don’t need to be professionally trained to do so. However, if you don’t feel competent, or inclined to do so, you can arrange for someone who is to assess the risk on your behalf.


Reviewing your assessment


Whilst the law does not say that the risk assessment needs be reviewed annually, remember, it’s important to review the assessment if anything changes in the system. You can also periodically check the system for any changes when you carry out those annual tasks such as maintenance visits, inspections or gas safety checks.

Download your free legionella risk assessment template

Related articles

Legionella - There's something in the water Legionella - There's something in the water

Why is health and safety training important? What should a basic health and safety course contain?

what is health & safety? What is health and safety?

Why is health and safety training important? Why is health and safety training important?


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