Concerning reports from leading safety experts indicate that millions of properties in the private rented sector are infected by Legionnaires disease.
Safety experts LTM Compliance says that one in sixteen privately rented properties in the United Kingdom is infected with the potentially fatal disease. The disease is caused by bacteria being present in the property water supply, such as in boilers or air-conditioning units. If inhaled, the bacteria can cause muscle pain, fever, lung-infections and in extreme cases, fatalities.
Law permits all landlords to provide their tenants with a fit and safe property under the Health and Safety legislation. The Health and Safety Executive has recently called on landlords to accept responsibility for ensuring that Legionnaires is not present in their properties.
Private rented sector are infected by Legionnaires
LTM Compliance Director Judith Richardson said that report showed that certain areas of the U.K were at serious risk from the disease. She said that, ‘Tests carried out by the AquaB Group in recent months show that more than six per cent of rented properties – that is more than one in 16 rented homes – tested positive for dangerous levels of Legionella. In an area like North Staffordshire, that means thousands of people are likely to be living in properties where there is a significant risk of contracting Legionnaires’ disease.’
She went on to say that LTM Compliance were in the process of, ‘contacting letting and managing agents in Staffordshire to make sure they are aware of this legislation and have been giving advice on how to carry out this new risk assessment in a cost-effective way.’ In addition, she said that LTM Compliance’s, ‘main concern, is to, ‘provide advice on this amended code of practice,’ to ensure that, ‘managing agents and landlords can understand their obligations and help protect their tenants.’
As a result of the serious nature of the disease, there are severe penalties for landlords found to have failed in organising sufficient testing in their property. Landlords will not only have their insurance policies revoked but could also face a £20,000 fine and a potential five-year custodial sentence.
LTM Compliance offers a service for landlords to ensure that the disease is not present within their portfolio. Their five-year assessment service complies to the Approved Code of Practice, thoroughly checking water supplies.
It is crucial that landlords conduct regular checks on all of their properties to ensure the safety on tenants. More information and advice can be found by calling a local Citizens Advice Bureau.