Legionella scaremongering by some letting agents debunked

Legionella scaremongering by some letting agents debunked

14:30 PM, 18th May 2015, About 7 years ago 80

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For months now I have been fending off veiled and not so veiled threats from ill-informed letting agents about the consequences of not shelling out for legionella tests.

I have directly engaged several letting agents on their attempts to make landlords feel as though they are committing a crime against humanity unless immediately cave and hand over handfuls of cash.

So, as a service to landlords, I offer the following Health and Safety Executive directive at the bottom of this article

Next time you get one of those threatening letters from an agent just point them to that.

Hopefully it will stop the requests without having to raise your blood pressure too much trying to explain the realities to an agent that simply doesn’t have a clue on the subject themselves anyway.

Badger

Case 357 – Consultants and Letting Agents misinterpreting the risks of exposure to legionella of their tenants

Issue

Consultants and letting agents are i) using the revised L8 ACOP to infer there is new legislation regarding landlords responsibilities and ii) misrepresenting what the law requires of landlords of domestic rented properties in relation to assessing and controlling the risks of exposure to Legionella bacteria of their tenants, for financial gain.

Panel opinion

Health and Safety law does not require landlords to produce a ‘Legionnaires testing certificate’. Legionella testing is required only in exceptional circumstances and generally not in domestic hot and cold water systems. Such letting agents and consultants are scaremongering landlords, for financial gain, by misinterpreting and exaggerating the legal requirements to manage and control legionella in domestic premises.Legionella

HSE has published guidance for landlords, free to download from HSE’s website:

http://www.hse.gov.uk/legionnaires/faqs.htm – As a landlord, what are my duties?

http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/priced/hsg274part2.pdf



Comments

by Rob Crawford

18:38 PM, 21st May 2015, About 7 years ago

I cannot find any reported incidents of tenants dying from legionella from housing within the PRS! A probability/impact assessment would therefore result in very low probability (unlikely to occur) and medium / high impact (illness / death) and would not warrant much attention (effort/funding) beyond the risk assessment. Legionella does not compare to the hazard associated with gas boiler issues within the same PRS where many instances of death/illness and damage resulting from carbon monoxide and gas escape have occurred. So high probability / high impact that warrants lots of effort/funding to mitigate this risk. It is possible that illness/death from tetanus is a higher risk than legionella within the PRS. Clostridium tetani spores can live for a long time outside the body and are widespread in the environment and are commonly found in contaminated soil and animal excrement! Should this not warrant more attention? This is probably because there is little scope for businesses to capitalise on the risk as there is a simple solution via vaccination. Have your tenants been vaccinated? I think Badger makes a good point.

by Badger

19:31 PM, 21st May 2015, About 7 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Rob Crawford" at "21/05/2015 - 18:38":

Oh no - now we have to pop round and pick up the little presents that the tenant's dog has left on the lawn on a regular basis as well!

(Actually, this is DEFINITELY one clause that I think I'll have to get written into my management agreements PDQ. 🙂 )

by Sue Saines

9:38 AM, 30th May 2015, About 7 years ago

Dear fellow landlords

With all the help and advice available and excellent websites such as this why on earth are people still using agents? We stopped years ago.
Most have a great sale pitch and can take your money at the speed of light but in our experience seldom follow through with the same enthusiasm or expertise they promise.

Let's face it no one looks after you better than you.

by Mark Alexander

21:36 PM, 30th May 2015, About 7 years ago

I disagree, my agent does a far better job than me and charges me far less than my own time is worth to me and my family. And that comes off the back of 26 years of experience and being the founder of this website
.

by Sue Saines

15:12 PM, 31st May 2015, About 7 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Mark Alexander" at "30/05/2015 - 21:36":

Good to hear you've found a good one. I'm a 20 year plus landlord and solicitor and more than happy to give credit where it's due. It's just not my personal experience.

by John Walker

12:43 PM, 2nd June 2015, About 7 years ago

Hi Alex,
all of my properties have sealed hot water systems and cold supply directly from the mains. I have therefore assumed the risk of Legionella is negligible. Would you consider this to be a false assumption as far as a risk assessment is concerned?

John

by Steve From Leicester

12:50 PM, 2nd June 2015, About 7 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Sue Saines" at "31/05/2015 - 15:12":

Hi Sue,

I'm an agent.

I'll be the first to admit that some landlords do an excellent job of managing their own properties. I also admit that if the tenancy goes well it's a relatively easy job to do so. Finally, thanks to a lack of regulation I recognise that there are some poor agents out there. So why use an agent?

First of all, plenty of landlords do try to do it themselves and make a mess of it, sometimes losing many thousands of pounds. There's plenty of stories from landlords themselves on this very website who've had a disaster one way or another.

Forget disasters for a moment though. Even when a tenancy goes well many landlords think an agent adds value. Some don't know the raft of legislation and (rather than learn it) are happy to delegate the responsibility to someone else. Others may well know what to do and how to do it, but simply don't have the time or inclination.

However, where we really add value is when something goes horribly wrong.
The most obvious is when you discover that despite thorough referencing you've ended up with the Tenant from Hell. One very recent posting on here was "Help - my vile tenants are ganging up on me". Very difficult for the landlord concerned - for an agent it would have been water off a duck's back.

It's not just that though. We've taken ownership and dealt with just about everything that could go wrong at a property. Low level rent arrears and quarrels with neighbours are bread-and-butter. At the more extreme end we've dealt with the aftermath of fires, floods, a chimney stack collapsing.

We've had drugs raids and brothels to sort out. We've handled illegal sub-lets. One of my staff once went on a management visit and found the tenant dead in his bed - poor chap had been there for an estimated ten days.

You name it we deal with it - and when some of the more extreme examples like those above occur our average management fee of about sixty quid a month (tax deductible) suddenly seems very good value.

To close. I note that you are a solicitor. With all the information on the internet I could write my own will, sort out my own divorce, probably even have a stab at doing my own conveyancing when I buy my next property. But to be honest I think I'd be better paying a professional to do it. Do you?

by Luke P

13:18 PM, 2nd June 2015, About 7 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Steve From Leicester" at "02/06/2015 - 12:50":

Hear, hear!

Eloquently & succinctly put.

by Sue Saines

13:46 PM, 2nd June 2015, About 7 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Steve From Leicester" at "02/06/2015 - 12:50":

That's my point really- if an agent knows what they're doing and delivers what they promise I'd gladly handover money to them. As I said it is my personal experience that the ones I have tried have not been as professional as you are.

I just wish you lived near to me.

by Ian Ringrose

18:16 PM, 2nd June 2015, About 7 years ago

“Sealed hot water systems” do not help, the issue is the storage of water, if that water can ever be warn rather than HOT or COLD. Long pipe runs are also an issue.

Is to the best setup is a Combi boiler that is very close to both the kitchen and the bathroom.


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