Legionnaires Disease is potentially a fatal lung infection caused when individuals inhale legionella bacteria. The bacteria can exist in any man made water systems e.g. water storage systems, taps, pipework and shower heads, etc.
Landlords have always had a legal duty to prevent or control the risk from exposure to legionella under the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974; Sections 2, 3 and 4 place a duty on employers to ensure the health, safety and welfare of their employees or non-employees affected by their work activities or undertaking and general duties on those concerned with premises to persons other than their employees. Dutyholders include employers and those in control of premises (ie landlords and letting agents).
The Health & Safety Executive (HSE) have published an Approved Code of Practice, which adds clarity as to what the law requires and how to ensure compliance with the law. Those in control of premises or who have responsibility for the water systems in their premises, e.g. private landlords, and letting agents have a duty to carry out risk assessments on water systems in their properties, to identify and assess any potential sources of exposure to legionella; landlords /agents must then take action to prevent or control any risks thus identified, and keep records of such actions. If they wish, or if they are not themselves competent to do so, landlords can employ a suitably competent/qualified person to carry out this duty on their behalf.
Revised technical guidance for all dutyholders is due to be published around March/April 2014 and will contain specific information for landlords and letting agents. For further information, please visit the HSE website: