The Legionella Disease has always been prominent and protected against within the UK hotel industry, but with the significant rise in tenants who rent from private landlords it has recently been extended to the private residential housing sector.
It reminds me of a ghastly story that made the North West news around February ‘15, where a poor pensioner from Cockermouth was suspected to have died from contracting the fatal disease in a socially owned property…
What causes the Legionella Bacteria in the first place?
Legionella bacteria infects the lungs and causes Legionnaires’ disease, or less serious strains. More often than not caught by breathing in small droplets of contaminated water, it is usually found in harmless quantities in water sources such as ponds, rivers and lakes. It only multiplies and becomes hazardous when it finds its way into artificial water supply systems, such as air conditioning systems and hot and cold water systems.
What does this mean for PRS landlords in East Lancashire then?
Protecting your tenants from the legionella bacteria doesn’t have to be a difficult task. To prevent it from forming and spreading you must now do the following:
- Begin with a risk assessment carried out by a trained professional. They will be able to identify and assess potential sources of Legionella, or less serious strains of the bacteria, within your property.
- By keeping up to date on your property maintenance, e.g. replacing old pipes, this will protect against the build-up and possible detrimental outbreak of legionella.
- Regularly flushing out your properties hot and cold water systems when it’s vacant will help to avoid a build-up of the bacteria before your new tenant moves in.
- By making sure that your water tanks are safely sealed and that the water is heated to 60°C or above will further protect against this deadly disease. (Legionella cannot survive above 60 °C or over)
Although not enforceable by the new law, we also believe a helpful extra is to provide all of your new and existing tenants with a basic ‘tenants guide to water hygiene’.
What if I don’t comply with the new rules?
- If you fail to carry out the basics listed above, basically causing your tenant to contract the disease you can receive a criminal prosecution and a fine of up to £20,000 per breach; per property.
Signs of Legionnaires’ disease include:
- Muscle aches,
- Shortness of breath,
- High fever,
There are also less serious strains of the legionella bacteria, which can cause Pontiac Fever and Lochgoilhead Fever. Often affecting previously healthy and young individuals, Pontiac Fever signs include:
- Muscle aches,
- Dry cough.
Lochgoilhead Fever signs include:
- High temperature,
- Abdominal pain,
- Joint pain.
We hope that you’ve found this information useful, and if you need any help with anything lettings related in the future please don’t hesitate to get in touch with one of our helpful team, on 01254 760660 or email: Darwen@AinsworthLordEstates.com..