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

Text Size

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 Anon 44

16:37 PM, 1st July 2015, About 7 years ago

As an agent we are trying to meet the compliance responsibilities as professionally as we can. We have had a 50/50 split between landlords who wish us to add them to the Aqua B programme and those who wish to sign the disclaimer. Each have their own reasons for taking their decision which we respect as their agent.

However what happens when a landlord denies there are any obligations to manage the Legionella risks, after they claim they have contacted the Health & Safety Executive, but also refuses to sign the agent's disclaimer?

For the record we have only requested our Landlord's pay the Aqua B charge made to us and have made no income what so ever for all the work that we are putting into managing this aspect of the business.

Any comments would be welcomed...

by Rob Crawford

18:15 PM, 1st July 2015, About 7 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Scott 44 " at "01/07/2015 - 16:37":

Hi Scott, I think the HSE requirement for landlords to conduct a legionella risk assessment is quite clear (it is a requirement of landlords). You have bought this to the attention of your landlords and also offered a service that addresses this requirement. If the landlord dose not wish to pursue your offer then I don't think you can do much more, you have acted responsibly. The landlord may make alternative arrangements or do it themselves. The risk assessment as advised by HSE is not difficult. Aqua B may do more than is actually required (?). Where a letting agent stands with regard to any H&S requirement that is not funded/permitted by the landlord is a good question. As an agent you are placing the tenant into a property and in the eyes of a court may have some legal responsibility to ensure the tenant is safe. You need to ensure the risk of prosecution is mitigated in your 'terms of business' with future landlords and by letter for existing landlords.

by Rob Crawford

18:23 PM, 1st July 2015, About 7 years ago

Further to my last, do Aqua B conduct a "risk assessment" or are they doing "tests", the later is not a legal requirement. If you are expecting landlords to fund the later then I would not be surprised if some do not take up your offer.

by Anon 44

18:34 PM, 1st July 2015, About 7 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Rob Crawford" at "01/07/2015 - 18:23":

They're carrying out the risk assessments in line with the legislation to ensure that we as agents, and our landlords, are compliant. Our terms of business do state that LLs agree to comply with all relevant legislation. Fortunately we have the email from this particular LL stating she will neither comply with the legislation or sign the disclaimer as a record that she has declined our offer to assist her with compliance.
Where do you draw the line? Do you refuse to manage the property if LLs won't agree?
Thanks for your comments Rob

by Rob Crawford

18:47 PM, 1st July 2015, About 7 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Scott 44 " at "01/07/2015 - 18:34":

Contractually under your terms of business the landlord is required to comply. If you ignore this what else within the ToB will not be complied with? Ignoring it may also undermine the whole agreement. It's a difficult one as obviously one needs the business. You probably need to apply a business risk approach and maybe include a response from your insurance company conclusion. Ride with it and suffer the consequences if anything happens or ditch the landlord! I do my own checks annually during one of my routine visits so no major expense for me or my landlords, most properties fail the hot water check so I adjust it for compliance to find at my next visit that the temp has been reduced, as considered too hot by the tenant, ha!

by John Walker

13:01 PM, 2nd July 2015, About 7 years ago

All of my letting properties are fitted with 'closed' hot water systems and cold water supplied directly from the mains. I have therefore decided as a risk assessment that the risk is negligible. Does anyone consider this is a negligent position to adopt?

by Michael Barnes

15:15 PM, 2nd July 2015, About 7 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "John Walker" at "02/07/2015 - 13:01":

Provided you have determined that there is no pipework that does not get a regular flow (eg plumbing for washing machine with no washing machine fitted), then it sounds reasonable to me.

Bear in mind that I am not an expert, just a landlord trying to make an honest living.

by Anon 44

16:22 PM, 3rd July 2015, About 7 years ago

Thanks Rob, really appreciate your input.

by Jireh Homes

16:41 PM, 3rd July 2015, About 7 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "John Walker" at "02/07/2015 - 13:01":

John - whilst not understanding the term "closed" hot water, the risks still have to be assessed and documented, which is all the legislation requires. The issue is not type of system, but the operation and controls applied. Hence the need for the Assessor to be competent. Allan

by Alex Sammut - ISAC UK Ltd

13:58 PM, 6th July 2015, About 7 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "John Walker" at "02/07/2015 - 13:01":

John, Are your saying that your hot water system does not:

Produce water that could sit in the temperature range of 20-45 degrees
Produce any aerosol at all as you have no physical outlets i.e. taps, showers etc
Or potentially have higher risk groups exposed to such aerosols?

If that is the case then you are probably correct. However, the likelihood is your system, regardless of how it heats the water has all three of these elements and thus a risk assessment should be carried out that is suitable and sufficient.

Ultimately the risk may be low (if you have a combi boiler for instance) but there is still a requirement to have suitable controls measures and a written scheme (no matter how basic) for each of your properties.


Leave Comments

Please Log-In OR Become a member to reply to comments or subscribe to new comment notifications.

Forgotten your password?

BECOME A MEMBER