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Did you know that landlords in Scotland are legally obligated to conduct legionella risk assessments on their properties? Legionella is the bacteria that causes legionnaires’ disease, a potentially lethal form of pneumonia. If you own property in Scotland and are a landlord, continue reading to learn everything you need to know regarding legionella and landlord risk assessments.

What is the Definition of Legionnaires’ Disease?

As previously stated, legionnaires’ disease is a potentially fatal kind of pneumonia. Inhaling water droplets infected with the legionella bacteria causes legionnaires’ disease. The condition was named after the first documented instances, which occurred in the 1970s at a convention of American army veterans. Coughing, fever, and shortness of breath are common symptoms, and elderly persons or those with lower immune systems are extremely vulnerable.

How is Legionnaires’ Disease Transmitted?

Legionella bacteria can develop in any type of water system, hot or cold. It is especially common in water tank systems when water stagnates. Water between 20 and 45°C is most likely to contain the bacteria, which can also grow when there is a buildup of filth, rust, or other material to feed on.

Bacteria can also be found in places where water spray or droplets are visible, such as shower heads and whirlpool baths. Because the water flows on a regular basis, combi boiler systems provide less of a risk. Rental homes that are left unattended for long periods of time, or portions of the home that are rarely used, such as guest bathrooms, may be more vulnerable.

What should Landlords need to know about Legionella?

If you’re a landlord in Scotland, you’re obligated by law to do a risk assessment for legionella on your property or have someone else do it for you. You also have to look out for your tenants in a more general way. This entails ensuring their water system is safe to protect their health and safety.

Who is responsible for carrying out a Legionella Risk Assessment?

You can hire a professional company to conduct the assessment for you, but the law does not require it. Landlords, property management companies, and renting brokers may do their own legionella risk assessments.

What Is A Legionella Risk Assessment?

To begin a risk assessment, learn about your property’s water system and where legionella threats may exist. This includes examining how water flows through your system and where it is stored.

You should check the following items as part of your assessment:

  • Areas where water is stored or regenerated as part of the system (areas of risk include water tanks, shower heads and lengths of pipework that can contain hot water).
  • Between 20 and 45 degrees Celsius, the water temperature in your system poses the greatest risk.
  • If your water system contains rust, filth, scale, and organic waste, this can provide food for the bacteria.
  • If there are areas of the system, like guest bathrooms, that are rarely used
  • If your system has any unnecessary pipes.
  • Whether your tenants have a higher risk of contracting legionnaires’ disease due to their age or any existing medical conditions.

What steps may Landlords take to minimise the risk of Legionella?

The best way to reduce the risk of legionella is to ensure that the water in your system is stored either above or below the danger range of 20 to 45°C. Moreover, it’s important to ensure that water is flowing and that the system is clean of the debris, rust, and sludge that the bacteria feed on.

The HSE (Health Safety Executive) recommends taking simple precautions like cleansing the system before renting out the home, ensuring the hot tank is set to 60°C and cutting off any unnecessary pipework. Also, to keep water at the proper temperature and to prevent debris from entering the system, make sure your tank and pipework are well-insulated. It is advisable to replace your tank if it has rusted. A less dangerous combi boiler system is another option you might want to think about.

While landlords are able to perform some of these repairs, you might need to hire a professional for other tasks.

How frequently should a landlord conduct a Legionella Risk Assessment?

If your tenant raises any worries about the water system or you believe something has changed, you should recheck every year.

What actions should my tenant take to lower the risk of Legionella Bacteria?

When your tenant moves in, you should warn them about the risk of legionella and ask for their assistance in a few straightforward ways. They should inform you immediately of any issues with the water system, particularly if they believe the hot water temperature has dropped below 50 degrees Celsius or the cold water temperature has risen above 20 degrees Celsius.

Moreover, they should inform you of any debris or discolouration in the water supply, as well as the length of time the property will be empty. If there are any bathrooms that are rarely used, ask that your tenant run the water for a few minutes per week to maintain the water supply. In addition, you should request that they regularly clean shower heads.

If you are a landlord in Glasgow who has worries about doing a legionella risk assessment – or any other part of renting out property – we would be delighted to assist you. Call us right away for a discussion about our services.

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