Legal Compliance

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Essential information for providers of residential accommodation

IMPORTANT NOTICE - Legionnaires and water bacteria


Legislation requires all rented property to have a legionella risk assessment undertaken.

Following the recent controversy over what you need to do,Victor Michael have obtained clarification from the HSE, UK Association of Letting Agents and RICS as to what your responsibilities are.

Last year the HSE produced a revised simplified version of the Approved Code of Practice (ACOP) “Legionnaires” disease: The control of bacteria in water systems L8’. However, while the ACOP was updated, it didn’t change or alter the responsibilities placed on Landlords in any way.

The law has not changed.  The simple fact is that landlords, who provide residential accommodation, have a legal duty to ensure the risk of exposure to tenants to Legionella is assessed and controlled. However, in most residential properties where smaller domestic-type water systems are installed and there is regular water usage, a simple assessment may show there are no real risks from Legionella. This can be carried out as part of a mandatory visit such as gas safety check or general maintenance. It should be possible for a landlord to assess the risk themselves but, if the Landlords are not comfortable doing so or not able to attend the property in person, they may instruct their agent to take care of the matter or arrange an assessment with a specialist supplier if necessary.

Answer these few simple questions:   Image title

If you answered yes to any of the above your, property could be at risk and would need further assessment.

If you answered No to all of the above questions there is a low risk of your property and provided that you advise your tenants of the risk of Legionnaires disease and give a few simple instructions to them, the risk will remain low and no professional assessment will be required as long as the above items are managed.

Advise to tenants from the landlord: 

  1.  If a problem occurs with the water heating system

  2. To regularly wash and de scale the shower head

  3. To disconnect any outside hose pipes when not in use

  4. To regularly run water through any sinks, baths or shower and flush toilets if they are not been used on a regular basis.  

For you further information, please find below the official response with the relevant links from The Health & Safety Executive (HSE)

“Landlords are required to undertake a simple assessment of the risk which may show that there are no real risks from Legionella and that the risks are being properly managed.  In most cases, no further action is required because the risks from hot and cold water systems in most residential properties are generally considered to be low due to regular water usage and turnover.   Implementing simple, proportionate and appropriate control measures, such as cleaning showerheads, setting the thermostat to 60°Cto deliver hot water at 50°C to outlets, will ensure the risk remain slow.  Installation of combi-boilers lowers the risk further as there is no water storage.

Most landlords can do the risk assessment themselves but, if they do not feel competent, they can arrange for someone who is competent to do it on their behalf.  The law does NOT prescribe that the risk assessment must be done on an annual basis or biennial basis, although it is important to review the assessment periodically in case anything changes.  The law does not require landlords to write the details and findings of the assessment down, but they may wish to do so as record for themselves.  (This is only required where there are five or more employees, which for most private domestic landlords, this is not the case.) 

A responsible landlord should inform tenants (as they would for gas safety etc) of the risks and actions taken to control the risks eg setting the thermostat, and ask tenants to inform the landlord if there are any problems with the hot water system so that appropriate action can betaken.  Checking temperatures etc can be done when undertaking mandatory visits such as gas safety checks or routine maintenance visits.  Testing for legionella is NOT usually required for domestic hot and cold water systems and HSE guidance is very specific as to the circumstances when this would be considered appropriate (HSG274, Part 2, paras 2.119 – 2.120). “

To stop misleading information being perpetuated by letting agents and consultants, HSE has published guidance for landlords, free to download from HSE’s website: As a landlord, what are my duties? Paragraphs 2.138-2.146


You may also find the following article recently published by the Director of the UK Association of Letting Agents helpful and reassuring:


For further information visit:         


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