Legionella and Landlord Responsibility

Currently, Health and Safety law does not require landlords to produce or obtain a legionella testing certificate, nor does HSE (Health & Safety Executive) recognise any document as an official certificate.

However, "If you rent out a property, you have legal responsibilities to ensure you conduct your undertaking in such a way that your tenant(s) are not exposed to health and safety risks." (hse.gov).  As a landlord, you have a legal duty to assess the risk of legionella exposure, and take reasonable steps to mitigate the risks it presents to ensure the safety and health of your tenants.


What is Legionella?

Legionnaires' disease is a potentially fatal form of pneumonia caused by the inhalation of small droplets of contaminated water containing Legionella.

All man-made hot and cold water systems are likely to provide an environment where Legionella can grow. Where conditions are favourable (ie suitable growth temperature range; water droplets produced and dispersed; water stored and/or recirculated; some food for the organism to grow such as rust, sludge, scale, biofilm etc) then the bacteria may multiply thus increasing the risk of exposure.  It is a simple fact that the organism will colonise both large and small systems so both require risks to be managed effectively.

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How to reduce risk from Legionella?

Failure to take steps to protect against Legionella could lead to prosecution if a tenant were to contract Legionnaire's disease.  A landlord in this situation would have to show what actions were taken to monitor and mitigate this risk.

  • Get your property tested often
  • Ensure all plumbing and water systems have been installed to a high standards
  • Keep all water systems clean and free from debris
  • Reduce any water that is sprayed into the air

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