Although it’s rarely found in occupied properties, legionella (a bacteria found in standing water) can have nasty consequences for tenants, exacerbating underlying breathing and health issues and causing sickness. Obviously it’s the landlord’s responsibility to ensure that the property is free of legionella at the start of the tenancy – and to deal with any issues that arise for the duration – but there are several ways that tenant can minimise the risk themselves, at no extra cost and with very little effort.
Here are five things landlords and letting agents can advise tenants to do to prevent legionella.
Make sure you clean your showerheads regularly
The shower is the highest-risk part of any property when it comes to the spread of legionella and asking tenants to remove and clean it on a regular basis will stop anything from the development of mould to the beginnings of legionella.
Don’t fiddle with the temperature settings
Landlords who are able to should set the temperature of the hot water cylinder (calorifier) at 60C to prevent the creation of conditions perfect for the spread of legionella. Once the temperature has been set, tenants should be advised not to alter it.
Run the taps when you get back from holiday
Taps in the property should be run for a few minutes before use when the tenant gets back from an extended break away from the property (annual leave or university vacation times) to reduce risk.
Rapid response and reporting
Tenants should inform landlords of any inconsistent temperatures or instances that the hot water is not heating properly. Both of these are telltale signs that the conditions might be ripe for the development of legionella and should be reported swiftly so that landlords can take appropriate action.
Tenants should be kept informed
Rapid response and reporting goes both ways. Landlords should make sure they’ve advised tenants of any measures they’ve already taken that need respecting, such as the setting of temperature controls. Landlords should also consider including a legionella risk assessment as part of any scheduled regular inspections. Although it’s highly unlikely that legionella will develop in a property that’s regularly occupied and well maintained, it’s definitely better to be safe than sorry.
For more information on legionella and its causes, download our free eBook, Legionella: What is it and What are Your Responsibilities?