What are a Landlord’s Responsibilities for Legionella Risk Control?

Landlords of residential properties do have responsibilities when it comes to carrying-out Legionella risk assessments.

According Case 357 in Gov.uk’s guidelines, some consultants and letting agents are misunderstanding the landlords’ responsibilities regarding legionella risks. The issue is that some consultants and estate agents are using the revised L8 ACOP to imply that new rules and regulations have been imposed on landlords of domestic and residential properties coercing them into managing the risks of Legionella.

This is not true, according to Gov. The legislation itself has not changed and misinformation will only incur exaggerated costs for the landlords in the shape of legionella reports, tests and certificates they don’t legally need.

Section 1: Are Landlords and Tenants Responsible for Legionella Risk Assessment?

Case 357 in Gov.UK’s ‘Myth Busters Challenge Panel‘ outlined some of the key concerns regarding legionella risk assessment responsibilities.
The panel at Gov.uk states that while there is a legal duty for landlords to control the risk of legionella in their property(s), the Health and Safety law states that landlords do not need to produce a ‘Legionnaires Testing Certificate’. Legionella risk assessments are not usually required in domestic properties using hot/cold water systems. There are however, certain circumstances where a legionella risk assessment may be required, but these are very rare.

Section 2: Following HSE’s Regulations to Eliminate the Presence of Hazardous Substances

The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 (COSHH) offers landlords and employers a guideline to help identify substances that may cause harm in a residential or commercial environment (such as Legionella). Implementing these measures is essential to ensure health and safety regulations are followed (more on this in the next section).
Additionally, the L8 Approved Code of Practice (3rd edition) (ACOP) states that landlords have a duty and are responsible for carrying out the necessary measures to ensure appropriate risk assessment is carried out and any hazardous substances are both identified and eliminated (including exposure to Legionella).

The ACOP also states that Legionella must be controlled in any working environment applies to commercial properties associated with business, trade or any property where large scale water systems are used. This is to ensure that any foreseeable risk of Legionella exposure can be monitored and dealt with. For more information, read L8 ACOP, paragraph 22.

Section 3: Understanding Your Legionella Responsibilities as a Landlord

It’s vital that letting agents and consultants understand the legal requirements and responsibilities regarding legionella risk assessment.

Otherwise, landlords and event tenants may find themselves paying for legionella risk assessments when it’s neither their responsibility or requirement.
It is still the landlord’s responsibility to ensure that the property they let is free from health hazards. Section 3 of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 outlines the importance of health and safety checks to landlords. Landlords must adhere to the guidelines outlined by the HSWA, otherwise they may be held liable for any damages to the property and/or tenant’s wellbeing.

Section 4: What are a Landlord’s Legal Health and Safety Responsibilities?

Landlords are generally responsible for overseeing the general health and safety of the property to ensure tenants’ living conditions adhere to the HSWA guidelines.

The HSWA declares in section 3(2) that:
“It shall be the duty of every self-employed person who conducts an undertaking of a prescribed description to conduct the 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 who rent out properties are responsible for ensuring the tenants are not exposed to immediate health and safety risks.

Section 5: Understanding The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 (COSHH)

This is the law that requires landlords and employers to take control and responsibility over substances that may cause health and safety issues for their employers or tenants. Any materials that are deemed hazardous (including nanomaterials) must be recognised by the landlord or employer and subsequently removed or dealt with by relevant health and safety bodies.

There are steps to take that will reduce your employees or tenant’s exposure to such threats by:
• Firstly, discovering what the health hazards are.
• Second, deciding the best course of action to deal with them (risk assessment)
• Employing relevant health and safety services to reduce harm to health.
• Ensuring the health and safety of the property is maintained and kept in order.
• Ensuring employees and tenants understand standard health and safety regulations.
• Planning for any emergencies.

HSE recommends always recommends a precautionary approach to risk management to ensure the safety of all involved. Performing necessary risk management is vital for landlords and employers, and failure to adhere to the HSE and COSHH regulations could result in heavy fines and damages to the property, as well as the health of tenants and employees.

Section 6: What are the Tenants Responsibilities?

The tenants are responsible for the general upkeep of the property and should allow it to fall into disrepair by their own-doing. This includes cleaning shower-heads and sinks to informing their landlord of any faults involving water and gas systems. For example, if their water is not heating properly or their gas is faulty.
Tenants should also be made aware of any specific control measures that need to be maintained. For example, not readjusting the temperature setting of the calorifier.
Shower installation is particularly important, as they are prone to dispersing water droplets which may be inhaled and therefore increase the risk of Legionella exposure. Showers that are used regularly (every day/two days) are at a far lower risk of Legionella exposure. However, tenants are still advised to clean and disinfect their shower-heads every month or so.

Section 7: Who Can Carry-out Legionella Risk Assessments?

The landlord’s responsibilities are, in most cases, simple and very straightforward. This is so they are not placed under any financial burden or cannot be held liable for health and safety regulations they are not responsible for.
Landlords can carry out the risk assessment themselves, they do not need to be certified or trained. However, many landlords feel safer employing a Legionella risk assessment expert, as it eliminates any fault on the landlord’s behalf. AMES Group have over 25 years’ experience in the Legionella risk assessment industry and carry-out Legionella risk assessments regularly.

For more information on Legionella risk assessment and how we can ensure your property is controlled accordingly, please do not hesitate to call us today on 0330 404 1357, or get in touch via our Contact Page.

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