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Keep Your Rentals Safe: Preventing Legionella Bacteria

As a landlord, you have a duty to keep your properties safe for tenants. One hidden danger in rental units is the Legionella bacteria, which can grow in water systems and cause a severe form of pneumonia called Legionnaires’ disease. While rare, Legionnaires' can be fatal, especially for vulnerable people.

In this post, we’ll explain what Legionella bacteria are, where they lurk, and most importantly—how to prevent them from infecting your rentals.

What is Legionella?

Legionella are bacteria that occur naturally in freshwater environments. The problem arises when they multiply in man-made water systems that aren’t properly maintained. Hot water tanks, faucets, shower heads and HVAC systems can all harbor Legionella growth. The bacteria spread via water droplets in the air and are inhaled into the lungs.

Legionella bacteria can cause a respiratory illness with symptoms like high fever, chills, and pneumonia. This illness is what’s known as Legionnaires’ disease. Groups especially susceptible are the elderly, smokers or those with compromised immune systems.

Your Responsibilities as a Landlord

As a landlord in the UK, you must legally carry out a Legionella risk assessment on all your rental properties. This assessment examines potential sources of Legionella bacteria and recommends control measures.

While allowed, we don’t recommend DIY risk assessments. It’s best to hire a professional. They have the expertise to fully evaluate water systems and test for Legionella. Regular assessments (e.g. yearly) also provide legal protection by demonstrating due diligence.

Prevention Tips

The good news is Legionella is preventable through proper water management. Here are some key tips:

  • Flush all water lines before renting a vacant property

  • Set hot water tanks to ≥ 60°C

  • Clean showerheads and check pipes for debris

  • Promptly fix any plumbing issues

  • Advise tenants on prevention

Protect Your Investment

Left unchecked, Legionella can wreak havoc on your reputation and finances. Illnesses or lawsuits could quickly escalate and may not be fully covered by standard landlord’s insurance. It’s crucial you take action to assess Legionella risks and implement a water management plan. Stay vigilant in monitoring your properties and maintaining safety for all inhabitants.

Ensuring water quality benchmarks are met goes hand-in-hand with providing tenantable and compliant housing. We encourage all landlords to learn more about Legionella risks and prevention.


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