Helping members communicate a landlords responsibilities to control Legionella
Elmhurst Energy believe that Legionella risk assessments will provide a ripe opportunity for assessors to diversify their business, not least because the legislation is explicit in requiring the assessment as a minimum safety precaution from an ever-growing number of private landlords.
The private rented sector is a growing part of the housing market where properties are owned and let by private landlords on the open market. Of the 23.4 million households in England and Wales in 2011, 4.2 million (18%) were privately rented and recent performance shows that this is likely to grow.
Unlike commercial buildings the private rented sector is dominated by individual private landlords and more than three quarters (78%) of all landlords only own a single dwelling for rent many of which will rely on letting agents for advice and guidance.
Private rented properties normally have a high turnover of tenants, especially in urban areas, which means that there is a very real need for regular Legionella Risk Assessments as the risk changes with context, whether that be changes to the dwelling or the lifestyle of the tenant.
Our own training and software for Legionella assessments were developed in response to huge interest in the topic amongst our members. We have seen a strong uptake of our training so far and recently extended the programme to provide regional sessions from Scotland down to the south of England.
A significant part of the course is the equipping of delegates with the details they need to advise landlords confidently and appropriately in this area and grow their pipeline of work.
It appears a small number of consultants and letting agents have mistaken guidance from Health and Safety Executive (HSE) for new legislation requiring landlords of private rented property to seek Legionella testing certificates. This is not the case and the legislation on landlords’ duties with relation to Legionnaires’ disease has not changed. Landlords do however have a duty to ensure that their properties are free from health and safety hazards. This includes carrying out a risk assessment to assess for conditions that can encourage the spread of Legionella and subsequently mitigating or controlling such conditions. The official advice is that the risk assessment is done by someone who has an adequate knowledge of the property’s water system and what to look for in terms of where the Legionella bacteria may exist. The HSE have produced a series of FAQs on the subject: http://www.hse.gov.uk/legionnaires/faqs.htm
Elmhurst has worked hard promote the need for Legionella Risk Assessments, which includes a number of articles on Legionella which have been published by the leading energy and letting journals, and to help our members we have produced two documents designed to help you communicate the right message to your clients. The first is a definitive statement on Elmhurst letter head which explicitly defines the requirements, the second is a template document which you may wish to use as a basis for your own marketing literature.
As a duty to our members, our aim is to provide the very best and most accurate information which assessors need to produce certificates, which are insured and professionally presented. Our training and assessment software provide assessors with the tools they need to produce professional reports and make complex legal requirements clear and applicable to landlords in everyday situations.