Legionella checks for Landlords

I have spent 25 years in building maintenance and I am bewildered why private landlords are expected to get a Legionella risk assessment yet Council and Housing associations along with private residential properties are exempt in other words all red cars have to get an MOT but any other colour does not ? I would also point out that I have never heard of a Legionella outbreak originating from a residential property.

This is a report on the findings of the investigation into the 2012 outbreak from the BBC The report suspects the outbreak originated in the South West of the city and although cooling towers have been  checked but no source was found.

Update of 06-08-15

There is a report on the BBC website that the families to sue over the outbreak of Legionella in Edinburgh 3 years ago click this link for more information.

Update of 05-12-17

Legal procedings taking place see Here Wonder if the authorities cancel  the burden of Legionella checks on private landlords.

PS I am not a landlord


Q.  Where does the Legionella bacteria come from.

A.  It is present in soil and streams.

Q.  So how do I catch it

A.  Legionella breeds between 20oC and 50oC and the way it can be transmitted is via a fine water mist.

Q.  What is the main source of legionella outbreaks

A.  The majority of outbreaks were traced back to water cooling towers as they operate between 20oC to 50oC  and in the past were mainly used in air conditioning and process control for factories the cooling towers are treated with chemicals to neutralise any bacterial growths. Today due to high maintenance costs the majority have been replaced with air cooled condensers but some factories still  need to use them.

Q.  Why do you think private rental properties have been targeted.

A.  Well its just an opinion but concerns have been raised due to some properties being left vacant causing stagnant water in the pipework.

Q.  As a landlord is there anything I can do to minimise the risk

A.  Yes if the property is left vacant then you could flush out the hot and cold pipes weekly until its occupied.

Q.  Is there any checks I can do


A.  Yes you can purchase a stopwatch and laboratory thermometer that will cost about £10 then when you either have a change of tenant or the property is vacant then run the cold tap furthest away from the cold water tank and record the water temperature after 2 minutes this should be less than 20oC. Repeat the same for the hot water and this should be more than 50oC after 2 minutes.

Q.  Can I use a digital thermometer

A.  Well yes but the problem is you would need to get it checked for calibration every year so you are better with a BS glass thermometer

Q.  Anything else

A.  Yes get a bucket of warm water with a dilution of bleach in it then remove any shower hoses and heads and steep them in the bucket for about 10 minutes.  Plus you can do this 2-3 times a year.

Q.  Where can I find more information

A.  You can visit the Health and Safety Executive Here