Those who manage domestic premises are as much under a duty of care as any other company to ensure that the risk of exposure to building users from Legionella is properly assessed and controlled. This applies to residential management companies, landlords and managing agents of blocks of flats as well as private landlords.
The guidelines are proportionate and compliance is not too onerous for private landlords; but owners and managers of blocks of flats should ensure they are taking the right precautions and are keeping their risk assessment ANS records up to date. The HSE offers a useful summary of requirements here.
For private landlords (and that even includes those who let just one room in their home) compliance is usually straightforward. Fewer of us have tanks in lofts these days and you can probably assess the risk yourself, especially if the water turnover is high. Beware of what are known as ‘deadlegs’ in the plumbing that may have been created as you converted the property for letting and fitted more appliances. This is where Legionella and, indeed, other pathogens can lurk.
If you are called to answer for an outbreak, the law will expect you to be familiar with the plumbing and to have taken reasonable precautions to reduce the risk. A thorough flush after a period of unoccupancy is always a good idea, as is a routine test. There are plenty of firms who can do that, give one of them a call.
ACOP L8 and blocks of flats
In blocks of flats, residential management companies, landlords and managing agents are expected to be aware of L8, the Approved Code of Practice (ACOP), “Legionnaires disease: Control of legionella bacteria in water systems”.
Among other things, it recommends that regular routine testing for legionella be carried out. The code can be downloaded HERE. It was revised in 2013 with a view to making it easier to understand, but the new edition also gave ACOP status to the requirement for:
- risk assessment
- the specific role of an appointed competent person, known as the ‘responsible person’
- the control scheme
- review of control measures
- duties and responsibilities of those involved in the supply of water systems
So, to comply with current legislation, you will need to appoint a person to be responsible for water hygiene, have an up to date risk assessment, have a programme in place to manage risks, and to keep good records of all of this. Any Legionella control policy is anchored in the risk assessment – it should be reviewed every two years at least.
Outbreaks are thankfully rare – let’s keep it that way.