Legionnella bacteria is the deadly cause of Legionnaires Disease, a lung-infection caused by inhalation of contaminated water droplets.
This bacteria is more likely to be found in temperatures between 20-40˚C, in water that is re-circulated or left to stand in sludge-ridden and rusty pipes. Unfortunately for those who own blocks of flats or larger residential properties, these conditions are not uncommon, with rooms and flats left empty, and larger water systems to contend with.
With so many water outlets, ageing tanks, and periods of unoccupancy, property owners with larger residential properties or blocks of flats will potentially have a bigger problem with Legionnaires Disease. So big in fact, it may prove fatal. Around 30% of those infected with Legionella bacteria die from the disease, with figures spiking to one in two if symptoms, which appear much like the flu, are left untreated.
It’s no wonder then that landlords who are found to be in breach of their responsibilities in carrying out a thorough risk assessment can face prosecution by the Health & Safety Executive (HSE), with a maximum fine of £20,000 and up to two years in jail. On top of this, any tenant who contracts Legionnaires’ Disease can bring a civil claim against their landlord.
The good news is that by paying attention to water systems in their properties, encouraging their tenants to do the same, and having the right insurance protection in place, this deadly disease doesn’t have to be a foregone conclusion.
Landlord Liability doesn’t automatically include Legionnaires Disease. Providing that a risk assessment has been carried out. If, despite taking the appropriate measures as laid out in the risk assessment, your client does face legal action from a case of Legionnaires, they can protect against this action with a Property Protector policy.
Under the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002, all property owners and landlords are obliged to carry out risk assessments and take any required preventative action to protect against Legionnaires’ Disease spread through water systems and air conditioning.
This might include:
- Regular water quality testing
- Removal of redundant pipework
- Checking water seals
- Storing water at 60˚C
- Treating water tanks
- Flushing water systems regularly
- Encouraging tenants to raise concerns
Information about landlord’s responsibility towards Legionnella can be found by visiting the HSE’s website.