The definition of a landlord
What is a landlord? This may seem like a silly question, but when it comes to the control of Legionella and a landlord’s legal obligations, the term landlord is actually broader than you might think. In fact, many people are a landlord in the eyes of the law even if they don’t realise it! This causes a problem when unwitting landlords don’t know that they have a responsibility to control the risk of Legionella in their property.
Let’s start with the definition of a landlord as described by the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) on its webpage entitled ‘Legionella and landlords’ responsibilities’:
"A landlord is anyone who rents out a property they own under a lease or a licence that is shorter than seven years. Landlords' duties apply to a wide range of accommodation, occupied under a lease or a licence, which includes but not exclusively, residential premises provided for rent by:
- local authorities
- housing associations
- private sector landlords
- housing co-operatives
It goes on to say “The law is clear that if you are a landlord and rent out your property (or even a room within your own home) then you have legal responsibilities to ensure the health and safety of your tenant by keeping the property safe and free from health hazards.”
So the title of landlord also applies to someone who rents a room out to a lodger, or hosts holidaying guests via Airbnb or similar services. The growth of the sharing economy which has been facilitated by the internet has enabled many thousands of people to make money from renting out rooms or properties, and under the law they are all classed as landlords with a responsibility for controlling Legionella.
And it’s not just the likes of www.spareroom.co.uk, www.roomhunters.co.uk or www.easyroommate.com. Many people are now letting spaces within their own homes for business purposes, providing meeting rooms, brainstorming spaces and flexible office accommodation via sites like www.spacehop.com and www.vrumi.com.
So whether you’re a ‘conventional’ landlord or one of the new generation of property letters, whether by the hour, the day or longer, make sure you have a Legionella risk assessment and suitable control measures in place.