Legionella Bacteria in Residential Accommodation. What do you need to know?

21 07 2014

Legionella are bacteria common in artificial water systems (e.g. storage tanks, pipe work, taps and showers). They are usually associated with larger water systems such as those found in factories, hotels and hospitals, and stringent checks have been the norm on water systems holding more than 300 litres. Significantly, the revised Approved Code of Practice (ACOP) issued by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) removes the 300 litre limit of hot and cold water meaning that all premises with a water system are now within the scope of ACOP. This means that as a landlord, you have certain responsibilities to ensure that you have done everything possible to stop Legionnaires disease – which is a potentially fatal form of pneumonia caused by the Legionella bacteria. For the further information please follow this link http://www.arla.co.uk/media/610774/legionaires-guidance.pdf

so what should you do? We have always advocated that each property will need an assessment done to determine any risk. It should be possible for you to assess the risk yourself and decide whether it is significant. When assessing the risk consider the following:

Question: Is the water temperature between 20oc – 45oc (which will allow the bacteria to multiply)?
Answer: Raise the temperature of the warm water to over 45oc. Temperatures of over 60oc kill the bacteria but could of course lead to an increased risk of burns and scalding.

Question: Are there possible areas where stagnant water could be present, e.g. pipes to a washing machine no longer used?
Answer: Remove redundant pipe work

Question: Are there infrequently used outlets, e.g. showers or taps?
Answer: Periodically run taps and showers

Question: Is there any debris in the system such as rust or sludge (typically a problem with old metal cisterns)?
Answer: Keep water cisterns covered, insulated, clean and free of debris.

Make sure you keep a record of any observations and work you have done. The chances of Legionella occurring in residential properties is minimal but the HSE have stated that recent research shows it does occur in smaller domestic systems – hence the new legislation. Hopefully the guidance given above will satisfy your duty of care and due diligence.

If you need further assistance, please do not hesitate to contact us on 01782 478 444 or Stoke-on-Trent@belvoirlettings.com

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