There have been several high profile prosecutions for breaches of Legionella control law recently, with significant fines handed down by the courts. In every case, lack of adequate training has been one of the major failings identified by investigators. Ignorance is no defence and, when it comes to Legionella control, lack of training can be a matter of life or death.
Whether you’re letting out just one property or hundreds, it’s vital that there is a trained and competent duty holder overseeing the control of Legionella. We have already written about how to choose the right training course for you, but it’s also about how the training is applied in the real world.
If you have appointed a letting agent or property management company to oversee your property, make sure that you quiz them about their level of competency in Legionella control. Ask to see certificates of training and check how recently they have been on a training course. Was the course certified or approved by a recognised profession body such as the Legionella Control Association?
Ask for evidence of their Legionella control system, whether that’s physical paper files or electronic records. They should be able to show you detailed written risk assessments, records of any remedial works and schematic drawings of plumbing systems. Also ask how they work with tenants on any necessary control measures e.g. descaling, temperature monitoring.
One issue which has come to light in recent court cases is the problem of cover for the person responsible for Legionella monitoring. If the designated ‘competent person’ is off sick or absent from work for any period of time, it’s vital that a suitably qualified and able person is available to cover for them. All too often adequate provision isn’t in place and suddenly the control measures fall apart and an infection occurs.
Another flash point for Legionella is when the water system isn’t flushed through regularly, again often as a result of poor training. If a building or part of a building isn’t being used for a while e.g. a void period between tenancies or an extended holiday, water can stagnate in the system and bacteria will flourish. There must be a plan in place to ensure that the water system is flushed through weekly and any little-used taps or showers are run for a few minutes each week.
It is our view that all landlords and owners of rented property (including holiday rentals and Airbnb hosts) should be trained in Legionella awareness. Even if you appoint a specialist company to handle Legionella control in your properties, you have a duty to understand the risks and should have a basic level of knowledge to enable you to manage your supplier properly. In the eyes of the law, the buck stops with you as the property owner.
Lastly, your tenants need to have a level of Legionella awareness too. While formal training isn’t necessary, it is good practice to inform them of the control measures in place and make sure that they report any problems to you.
We are certified providers of all levels of Legionella training aimed at landlords, duty holders and trade professionals, so get in touch now if you’d like to find out more or book a suitable training course.