Landlord Water Risk Assessment

Private landlords and managing agents are now required, following improvements to the L8, the Approved Code of Practice for Legionnaires’ Disease, to demonstrate that water systems are clean and healthy. The L8 is now as much a part of the process of private tenancy as the Energy Performance Certificate.

Swiftclean Building Services is one of the UK’s leading specialists in legionella prevention and control, with a proven track record in social housing, care homes and other sectors. Working closely with private landlords and managing agents, Swiftclean helps to ensure that private rental properties are demonstrably L8 legionella compliant.

Your Legal Responsibility

Legionella Control

Landlords who provide residential accommodation, as the person in control of the premises or responsible for the water systems in their premises, have a legal duty to ensure that the risk of exposure of tenants to legionella is properly assessed and controlled.

Where a managing (or letting) agent is used, the management contract should clearly specify who has responsibility for maintenance and safety checks, including managing the risk from legionella. Where there is no contract or agreement in place or it does not specify who has responsibility, the duty is placed on whoever has control of the premises and the water system in it, and in most cases, this will be the landlord themselves.

Private landlords and managing agents are required to conduct a risk assessment for hot and cold water systems for all potential hazards, including legionella. Rental properties can be particularly prone to legionella, due to periods between tenancies where they might be unoccupied. Static water in pipes and storage tanks can be a breeding ground for legionella and must be kept clean and compliant with L8 guidelines.

All residential premises are potentially at risk.

It is important to identify various factors:

a)    whether water is stored or recirculated as part of the system

b)    if the water temperature in some or all parts of the system is between 20º and 45ºC

c)    whether there are sources of nutrients for bacteria such as rust, sludge, scale and organic matter.

A landlord or agent needs to consider whether conditions are present to encourage bacteria to multiply. Is it possible for water droplets to be produced and, if so, can they be dispersed, for example from showers. Also they need to consider whether any resident or visitor is likely to be more susceptible to infection due to age, illness or a weakened immune system and whether they could be exposed to contaminated water droplets.

Even if there is no storage of hot or cold water in the system a risk assessment may still be necessary. There can be other factors which increase the risk of Legionnaires Disease e.g. dead legs, shower heads or long runs of pipe work which contain warm water. Good design, maintenance and proper operation of the system will also help to alleviate these issues.

It is necessary to demonstrate through documentation that all practicable steps have been taken to address the risks associated with water contamination. Failure to protect those in private rental accommodation will not only put the lives of potentially vulnerable tenants at risk, but clearly falls within the legal definition of negligence on behalf of those responsible for the proper upkeep of the property. In the event of an outbreak, private landlords or letting agents who are responsible for a non-compliant property might face prosecution, a hefty fine or even imprisonment.

Fire Dampers

Another very important passive fire prevention measure is the regular testing, cleaning and maintenance of fire dampers.  These are metal louvres which can open and close and are installed across the ductwork to form a temporary barrier when closed but allow the free flow of air when open.  You may not even be aware that your ventilation system has fire dampers, but they fulfil a very important function, so you must be sure that they are in working order.

In the event of a fire travelling through ductwork, the fire damper must close, to restrict the oxygen supply to the fire and create a barrier which slows the spread of the fire.  This buys valuable time in which to safely evacuate residents and visitors, especially the more vulnerable and less mobile.

There are different types of fire damper; some are spring operated, some have fuseable links and there are  other designs which are remotely operated.  All types must be regularly tested, using a method known as drop testing, cleaned and maintained.  According to recently updated guidance, BS999:2017, all fire dampers must now be tested at no more than twelve month intervals.

We can help you locate your fire dampers, create access to inaccessible fire dampers then drop test, clean and maintain them for compliance.  More information can be found on our fire dampers page.

Swiftclean services for the Private Rental Sector

Swiftclean has many years’ experience in legionella compliance and control. With a straightforward approach and market leading expertise, they are the best choice to help private landlords and letting agents ensure that their properties are safe and L8 legionella compliant.

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Contact us today to chat with our expert advisors, on hand to keep you compliant.