It may come as a surprise to both landlords and tenants that they have a liability for the management of risk of exposure to Legionella bacteria in water supplies within their premises, and it is an area of risk that is often overlooked.

Under the Health & Safety at Work Act 1974, any person in control of premises is responsible for health and safety, and this extends to the potential risk of exposure to legionella bacteria and the associated health risks.

Where a commercial property has communal facilities that are used by tenants and/or members of the public, the landlord has a responsibility to ensure that they are assessed for the risk of exposure to Legionella and regularly monitored to manage any risk identified to prevent the possibility of exposure.

Similarly, tenants have a responsibility for the same risk assessment and management in circumstances where they have facilities within their demise that are used by their staff and/or members of the public.

The most common areas of risk are water systems that produce a spray, such as showers, cooling towers, spray taps and decorative fountains and Jacuzzis, but there can also be a risk where there is standing water in pipes or taps where water flow is infrequent.

Water temperature is also a key factor, and one of the variables that should be monitored in relation to taps and other sources of water. Water temperature between 20 and 45 centigrade poses a risk for the growth of Legionella bacteria.

As a property owner, employer or person in control of premises, you should be aware of this aspect of Health & Safety and take the necessary measures to ensure your duties are met.

As with Fire, dealing with the risk of exposure to Legionella requires the appointment of a competent person with the necessary skills, knowledge and experience to identify, manage and control the risk effectively, and there are specialist contractors that can undertake this task.

As managing agents for a wide variety of commercial property, we can administer Legionella risk assessments on behalf of commercial landlords by the appointment of appropriate contractors as part of our management service.

If you are a commercial property landlord and have concerns regarding this or any other aspect of the management of your investment please contact Chris Reed at our Plymouth Office to discuss how Stratton Creber Commercial can assist you.

Chris Reed BSc (Hons) MA