It’s thought that around 2 million people in the UK own a second home and the internet is full of companies offering tens of thousands of holiday lets around the country. Precise figures are hard to come by, but it’s clear that, of the 28m dwellings in the UK, a sizeable number are not lived in on a permanent basis. If you are the owner of a holiday letting property you are legally classed as a landlord so have certain responsibilities with regards to the health and safety of your guests, which include the control of Legionella.
With October half term behind us, many holiday lets will be standing empty for the next few months awaiting the dawn of spring, so now is the perfect time to be reviewing your Legionella risk assessment and carrying out any necessary repairs.
A sensible place to start is to do a visual inspection of all the plumbing. Check for any cracks, corrosion or rust in the water tank and pipework. Is your water tank clean and any stored water clear of sediment and biofilm? Make sure that the tank lid fits well to keep out debris and vermin. Any lagging or insulation should also be in good condition as it’s important for regulating water temperature. Have a look at taps and showerheads, checking that they are free of limescale, rust and cracks. Lastly, is the boiler in good working order?
Your next job is to monitor water temperature as that’s an important control measure for Legionella. The key is that the cold water should be cold (under 20°C) and the hot water must be hot (over 50°C) to stop any bacteria multiplying. For full step-by-step guidance on this, have a look at our recent blog.
Another important aspect of Legionella control in holiday lets is managing the risk during void periods. It’s vital that water in the system is kept moving as stagnation encourages bacterial growth. If there are parts of the property which aren’t regularly in use, or if the accommodation isn’t occupied for a period of a week or more, you need to have a programme in place to flush the system at least weekly. Flushing means running all taps and showers for a minimum of two minutes once a week, plus flushing all the toilets. To reduce the risk of you inhaling any bacteria during the process, turn them on and leave the room while the water is flowing (or, if that’s not possible, stand well back) or wear a protective face mask.
There are other potential hazards which may be found in a holiday property too, including swimming pools, hot tubs and air conditioning units. These all carry a heightened risk of Legionella bacteria so must be thoroughly cleaned on a regular basis. Chemical dosing for pools and hot tubs must be carried out carefully and filtration systems kept clean. Make sure that accurate records are kept and that your guests are aware of any control measures so can alert you if anything goes awry.
Legionella compliance doesn’t have to be complicated, but it does require competency with domestic plumbing systems and an understanding of the risks. You can find lots of advice on our blog but if you have more questions, want to book a training course or would like to appoint Compliance for Landlords to handle your Legionella control programme, get in touch now on 01732 446474 or email [email protected].