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 Jireh Homes

16:23 PM, 27th July 2015, About 7 years ago

JC - Yes, all Landlords who provide residential property have this legal obligation. This is stated in Guide to Duty Holders issued by HSE (INDG 458) and in guidance documents from the likes of Scottish Landlord Association and Aberdeenshire County Council to name but two representative bodies. And this is not restricted to Scotland in case this is queried.

by Jireh Homes

16:26 PM, 27th July 2015, About 7 years ago

HSE INDG 458 Legionnaires' Disease - Guide to Duty Holders has the following text:

What are my duties?

Under general health and safety law, as an employer or person in control of a premises (eg a landlord), you have health and safety duties and need to take suitable precautions to prevent or control the risk of exposure to legionella. Details of the specific law that applies can be found in part 1 of Legionnaires’ disease: The control of legionella bacteria in water systems.

Carrying out a risk assessment is your responsibility and will help you to establish any potential risks and implement measures to either eliminate or control risks. You may be competent to carry out the assessment yourself but, if not, you should ask someone with the necessary skills to conduct a risk assessment. This can be done by someone from within your own organisation or from someone outside, eg an external consultant.

by J C

16:36 PM, 27th July 2015, About 7 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Jireh Homes" at "27/07/2015 - 16:26":

Thanks for the quick answer.

One more question: Do you know of a reputable company that can carry these out? As most just seem to want to charge you £120 + vat. Then produce a report that basically says there is a risk pretty much everywhere in a property. Which obviously isn't helping to reassure either the landlord or tenant.

I wouldn't want to carry the checks out myself in case I missed something that could be construed as a risk etc.

by Luke P

16:46 PM, 27th July 2015, About 7 years ago

This is the whole problem with it all.

Save your £120+VAT for the very slim chance you get fined...which won't happen, because they can't even figure out who is redress scheme registered or chase those with no EPC etc.

by Jireh Homes

16:50 PM, 27th July 2015, About 7 years ago

Hi JC - they tend to be regional, so depends on where your properties are based. But would avoid the "Nationals" as likely to be most expensive. Once declared perhaps others who have experience of that area can respond.

The majority of assessments I have carried out confirm minimal risk and this would be my base expectation for domestic residential properties.

by Luke P

16:52 PM, 27th July 2015, About 7 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Jireh Homes" at "27/07/2015 - 16:50":

What would you consider a reasonable cost of assessment per property (anywhere outside of London, say)?

by J C

17:08 PM, 27th July 2015, About 7 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Luke P" at "27/07/2015 - 16:52":

I can't honestly see how any reputable company can charge more than say £80.

You can get laboratory testing packs (which you do yourself and send off) for about £50. so the extra £30 would be for them to type up the risk assessment.

That seems reasonable to me, although I doubt there is anyone out there that cheap as yet.

by Jireh Homes

17:57 PM, 27th July 2015, About 7 years ago

Quote for the Risk Assessment will vary with local economics and company overheads, but the lowest cost I have seen quoted by commercial companies is circa £80 + VAT, although many are higher. Aware of competent individuals in Scotland who are charging less (and no VAT). Please note lab testing for legionella is NOT required, so take this out of the evaluation.

by Luke P

20:56 PM, 27th July 2015, About 7 years ago

Okay, so we're talking around £100 all-in. For me that's £15k+ just for my own properties...I only pay £40 for an 10-year EPC and £25 (inclusive of VAT) for a GSC, something I place far more value on than 'tummy bug' nasties. I jest, of course but the lifestyle choices of most of the tenants in my area are far more cause for concern!

This is too complex and too costly to comply with properly.

I'm not being belligerent, just saying how it is and how an awful lot of landlords will view it. The ones who've completed their own risk assessment and think they've complied likely won't have done it correctly nor put any measures into action, but will be smug in the safety of their own knowledge that they're a good, legislation-abiding proprietor.

by John Walker

21:24 PM, 27th July 2015, About 7 years ago

I certainly hope I'm not being smug, but with all my properties having Combi boilers, I have done my own risk assessment and found the risk to be minimal. To reduce the risk to an even greater degree I've written to all tenants suggesting they run water as hot as possible through all hot outlets for two minutes each month This would include washing machines and dishwashers etc. How one might effectively treat a fridge with an ice maker I don't know, but am not aware of any of my tenants owning such an appliance and having it plumbed in

John


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