Why Do I Need a Legionella Survey?

Legionella Survey

Legionella is a bacteria which is capable of causing a pneumonia-like illness called Legionnaires’ Disease. Although antibiotics can be used to treat most people suffering from the disease, it can be life-threatening if proper medical attention is not sought out. A more mild illness called Pontiac Fever can also be caused by the legionella bacteria.

Legionella is typically transmitted by breathing in mist from water containing the bacteria. It does not spread from person to person. Common culprits of spreading the disease are any locations where warm water is allowed to sit, such as in hot tubs, showers, fountains, swimming pools, HVAC units and air conditioning. The bacteria thrives between temperatures of 20C and 45C, but is killed by temperatures over 60C.

In the UK, there were 306 confirmed cases of Legionnaires’ Disease in 2012 and numbers have been rising since then. In America, things look even worse as cases of the disease have nearly quadrupled in the past 15 years.
Symptoms of the disease include a fever of 40C (104F) or higher, chills, cough, headaches and muscle aches. An x-ray is required to diagnose the pneumonia-like aspect of the disease, and lab tests are needed to detect presence of the bacteria.

People who are especially at risk include those older than 50, smokers, and people with chronic lung disease or a weakened immune system.

You Have Responsibilities As A Landlord

Landlords have a legal responsibility to ensure the health and safety of their tenants, including assessing the risk of exposure to legionella. Landlords of both residential and commercial properties have a similar responsibility to ensure the water systems in the workplace or home are safe for all tenants and employees.

Steps you must take include:

  • Having a risk assessment carried out by an expert, or performing it yourself if you are competent.
  • If any risks are identified in the evaluation, you must begin a course of action to remedy the situation.
  • Continue to periodically monitor your properties and keep records.

Some simple measures you can take as a landlord to reduce the risk include:

  • Flushing out water systems before letting the property to a new tenant.
  • Ensuring water tanks have a tight-fitting lid.
  • Installing combi boilers and electric showers to reduce the risk, since no water is stored in these devices.

Protect Yourself, As Well As The Health Of Your Tenants

Having a legionella survey completed is the primary way to assess any risks that may be present in your property, and ensures you are taking proper precautions to legally protect yourself, as well as maintaining the health and wellbeing of your tenants.

A typical legionella risk assessment costs from £200 for a small office, rising with the size of the premises. However, that’s a small price to pay for peace of mind for yourself and your tenants.

Even small infractions can lead to fines of £20,000 from the HSE, while major breaches allow for unlimited fines. Monetary penalties aren’t all to worry about. Landlords can be held personally responsible and given prison terms of 12 to 24 months for failing to comply as well.

Red Rock provide a professional property and facilities management service across the UK. To discuss your needs and how we can assist you in the management of your property, simply get in touch with a member of our team today.

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