Check your property and help stop killer disease

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LANDLORDS are being urged to carry out an 
assessment on their properties – to help control the threat of Legionnaires’ disease.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is directing residential property landlords, or their managing agents, to comply with a recently revised Approved Code of Practice –“Legionnaires’ disease: the control of legionella bacteria in water systems”.

Legionella are bacteria common in artificial water systems such as storage tanks, pipework, taps and showers. People can catch the disease if they inhale into their lungs tiny water or vapour droplets carrying the bacteria.

Illness starts with flu-like symptoms, but can develop into lung infections or pneumonia, which can prove fatal in one in ten patients.

“The new guidance underlines new legal requirements for landlords or their agents to ensure the risk from legionella – in all forms of water systems found in residential rented premises – is fully risk assessed and controlled,” says Dorian Gonsalves, chief executive officer of the country’s leading residential lettings specialist Belvoir, which has an office in Rugby.

“Landlords and property management or lettings agents must identify and assess potential sources of exposure and take steps to prevent and control such risks – keeping detailed records of their findings and recommendations for at least five years.”

Whilst legionella bacteria are usually associated with larger water systems, such as cooling towers in commercial buildings and hospitals, they can thrive and multiply in hot or cold water systems and storage tanks in flats and houses.

Richard Baker who owns the Belvoir office on Chapel Street in Rugby, said: “There is now a need to check and inspect properties which may have a water supply with temperatures between 20C and 45C since plumbing systems need to run at 60C to kill off the bacteria.

“Particular attention should be paid to water storage and header tanks, thermostatic mixing valves and to the potential for any build-up of debris, such as sludge, in a system. A risk is also posed if water could become stagnant in an under used area - for example taps, showers or washing machine pipes.”