Landlords & tenants
In domestic rented properties - from whole properties to rented rooms, long-term lets to holiday homes - landlords have legal responsibilities to ensure the health and safety of their tenant. This includes making sure gas appliances meet specified safety standards and managing the risk of Legionella. Landlords are also obliged to keep the property in good condition and the property must have a minimum EPC E rating.
Landlords are usually responsible for repairs to:
- The properties structure and exterior
- Basins, sinks, baths, drains, pipes and other sanitary fittings
- Heating and hot water systems
- Chimneys and ventilation
- Anything landlords themselves (not tenants) damage through attempted repairs.
Gas appliances in rented properties
The law states that landlords must hold a gas safety certificate for each gas appliance in the property. This certificate must be issued by a Gas Safe registered engineer. All gas appliances including boilers, pipework, flues, chimneys, cookers, fires and water heaters should be checked every 12 months and in a safe condition.
In addition to this carbon monoxide alarms must be placed in rooms with a coal fire or wood burning stove. Although not law, the CIPHE would recommend landlords (or tenants) invest in a carbon monoxide alarm if gas or oil appliances are present in the home. Carbon Monoxide has no smell, no taste and no colour, making it extremely hard to detect. The effects of carbon monoxide on humans and animals can be deadly - around 40 people die each year in the UK from CO poisoning.
Smoke alarms must be installed on each floor of the property.
Landlord obligations - the facts
- Landlords are obliged by law to keep rented properties safe and free from health hazards
- Landlords must ensure all gas and electrical equipment is safely installed and maintained
- Landlords must provide an Energy Performance Certificate for the property
- Properties that have been left empty between lets can be prone to issues such as Legionella.
Damp and mould in rented properties
Landlords are obliged to fix damp and mould issues if they are affecting the tenants health and safety or caused by a repair problem. However tenants are expected to adequately heat and ventilate their homes so that damp doesn’t occur.
It can be possible to address some damp issues by improving heating, insulation or ventilation. Talk to a professional heating engineer if you suspect damp is caused by condensation.
Legionella in rented properties
Landlords, who are renting out property or rooms on a long-term basis, or as short holiday lets, may not be aware of problems that might arise from the plumbing systems if the property isn’t in use all the time. Below are some of the issues that may need some attention to protect tenants from legionella. This advice is also relevant to someone who is going to rent or buy a property that has been empty for a while.
There are many types of microbes that can live and multiply in showerheads (microbes are single-cell organisms so tiny that millions can fit into the eye of a needle). Most of the time they do no harm to humans, but some, like Mycobacterium avium can cause respiratory infections if inhaled via the water spray. Legionella pneumonophila is a bacterium that can also live in a showerhead. If tiny droplets of infected water are inhaled by someone with a poor immune or respiratory system, it may lead to Legionnaires’ disease, which is a potentially fatal form of pneumonia.
It is rare for this to happen as the risks are small, but like most things prevention is better than cure. If you dismantle, clean and descale showerheads on a regular basis you shouldn’t have any problems.
Flexible hose pipe tap connectors
Scientific investigations have shown that some flexible hoses used to connect washbasin taps to plumbing systems are completely unsuitable because the inner surfaces provide ideal places for bacteria to attach and form biofilm (a biofilm is any group of microorganisms in which cells stick to each other on a surface).
These hoses can provide the right conditions for the growth of Legionella bacteria, however, it should be mentioned that it would be rare for someone to contract Legionnaires’ disease this way. If you are thinking of installing this type of tap connector, ensure that it is WRAS approved. To find out more, please visit www.wras.co.uk
‘Dead legs’ and Legionella
A ‘dead leg’ is a redundant length of pipework (usually when modifications are made in a property), which is left in place and capped. WRAS guidelines state that the length of any dead leg should be limited to two times the pipe’s diameter. Water cannot circulate in a dead leg, so if the dead leg is much longer than that, it could be a breeding ground for Legionella or other biofilm. If you are unsure, consult a professional plumber.
Hot tubs and spa pools
When it comes to holiday homes or luxury properties, hot tubs or spa pools may be installed.
The Health and Safety Executive states that, ‘A domestic spa pool installed in a holiday home should be managed as a commercial spa pool’. Their guidance goes on to say, ‘Where a spa pool is supplied for use at a holiday home, it needs to have a continuous chemical feeder built into the spa to continuously treat it with disinfectant. The whole system will need regular – at least weekly, depending upon bathing load – shock treatment, drain down and cleaning’.
Information on this topic can be downloaded from: www.gov.uk
Whilst there is a legal duty for landlords to assess and control the risk of exposure to legionella bacteria, Health and Safety law does not require landlords to produce a ‘Legionnaires Testing Certificate'.
Landlords can download free guidance on dealing with Legionella from www.hse.gov.uk/legionnaires/
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Legionnaires' disease is a type of pneumonia that can be deadly. However, with the right maintenance regime it can be prevented.Legionnaire's disease
Carbon Monoxide (CO) is a natural gas created by the incomplete combustion of fossil fuels. This deadly gas has no smell, no taste, or colour.Find out more