Freeholders have the ultimate legal responsibility for ensuring water safety for their residents, in order to protect them from the legionella bacteria.

Whilst the bacteria is found in most water systems the risk comes where it can multiply and reach dangerous levels. It can survive and thrive in low temperatures of between 20 and 45 degrees celcius and also stagnant water contained within redundant (unused) pipework or rarely used outlets which in turn can contain rust, sludge and organic matter.

It is the inhalation of droplets of water contaminated by Legionalla bacteria that causes Legionnaires’ Disease and people most at risk are individuals with weaker immune systems.

Risk assessments must be regularly reviewed by a competent person defined by the HSE as ‘someone with the necessary skills, knowledge and experience’. An agent can fall into this category if they have an understanding of how to inspect the premises for any risks. The legal duties for landlords who provide residential properties can be read here.

Note: New assessments need to be carried out should vulnerable tenants move in or a system is updated/altered.

Written Records

A written record must be kept that needs to include:

  1. The name of the person carrying out the risk assessment;
  2. The review date;
  3. A list of the systems being assessed;
  4. Any potential sources of risk;
  5. Any risk controls in place;
  6. Records of monitoring, inspections, maintenance procedures and checks.


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