Conducting an inventory pre-tenancy checklist before new tenants move into the property will set the standards for how the property should be looked after during and at the end of the tenancy.

What is a Legionella Risk Assessment?

A Legionella Risk Assessment is a crucial evaluation aimed at identifying the risk of exposure to Legionella bacteria within a water system. Legionella bacteria can lead to Legionnaires’ disease, a potentially serious form of pneumonia, which can be contracted by inhaling aerosolised water droplets containing the bacteria.

The assessment typically involves:

Inspection of Water Systems: A thorough examination of all water systems in the property, especially areas where stagnant water can occur, such as storage tanks, old pipework, and seldom-used showers or taps.

Temperature Checks: Since Legionella bacteria thrive at temperatures between 20°C and 45°C, the assessment includes checking the temperature of water storage and distribution systems.

Identifying Risk Points: Pinpointing areas in the system susceptible to Legionella growth, such as parts of the water system with rust, sludge, scale, and biofilms which bacteria can feed on.

Water Analysis: Sometimes, water samples may be taken for laboratory analysis to detect the presence of Legionella bacteria.

Documentation: The findings are documented, and a risk assessment report is created. This report includes recommendations for controlling and mitigating the risk of Legionella.

Action Plan: Development of a management plan outlining how identified risks will be managed, who will be responsible, and how the control measures will be carried out and monitored.

In many countries, including the UK, a Legionella Risk Assessment is a legal requirement for all landlords and property managers to ensure that their water systems are safe and do not pose a risk to the occupants. The frequency of these assessments can vary depending on the type of property and its water systems, but it is generally recommended that they be carried out regularly or whenever there is a reason to suspect the presence of Legionella.

Landlord’s Legal Responsibilities for Legionella Risk Assessments

One of the many legal responsibilities that landlords and letting agents have is ensuring that their properties are free of Legionella bacteria. Legionella can cause health problems to more vulnerable tenants or any member of the public that may visit the property.

“The law is clear that if you are a landlord and rent out your property… you have legal responsibilities to ensure the health and safety of your tenant by keeping the property safe and free from health hazards. – Health and Safety Executive

Although the responsibilities around Legionella and preventing it from spreading from water systems to tenants’ lungs are some of the vaguest in the private rented sector, this is a quick guide to clarify the responsibilities of the duty holder around Legionella and how it affects landlords, agents and tenants alike. 

Is a Legionella Risk Assessment a legal requirement?

Landlords are legally bound to keep their properties free from health hazards. The law forms part of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and imposes a legal duty on all managing agents and landlords to ensure the health and safety of all tenants, staff and members of the public are protected this includes the Legionella Risk Assessment.

According to the Health and Safety Executive:

“The practical and proportionate application of health and safety law to landlords of domestic rental properties is that whilst there is a duty to assess the risk from exposure to Legionella to ensure the safety of their tenants, this does not require an in-depth, detailed assessment.”


The cost of a legionella risk assessment for a landlord who fails to assess their property is covered in Section 17 of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, which states:

“If anyone is alleged to have breached any criminal offence under this Act or the regulations, and they failed to adhere to the approved code of practise, that criminal offence shall be deemed to be committed.”

ACOP provides guidelines on complying with the law, and it holds a special legal status in the UK as it is legally binding. ACoP 8 covers legionella risk assessment guidelines.

Do I legally need to Test a Residential Property?

COSHH (Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regs) and ACOP L8 have been in place for many years. Law has not changed, but the regulations related to non-domestic premises restricted to water systems of over 300 litres in the past.

Residential properties were exempt, but research by HSE indicated Legionella was as high in residential as it is in commercial and as a result, a new ACoPL8 (HSG274 Part 2) was introduced in April 2014 to include all residential property.

The three main Legionella Risk Factors:

> Redundant Pipework

> Infected Water Storage Tanks

> Lukewarm water temperature

As a landlord or agent, what should I be doing?

Section 28, Health and Safety at Work Act 1974:

“A risk assessment must be carried out to identify and assess the exposure to legionella bacteria from water systems on the premises and any precautionary measures needed. The duty holder is responsible for ensuring the risk assessment is carried out.”

ACOP L8 clarifies how the hazardous substance applies to Legionella in a domestic environment. The duty holder uses in the same way as the gas regulations. The landlord or managing agent is responsible for ensuring the risk assessment is carried out.

What do you need to do to comply?

Section 2.138 (HSG274 part 2) states:

Landlords who provide residential accommodation have a legal duty to ensure that the risk of exposure of tenants to Legionella is properly assessed and controlled.

The duty holder must:

> Assess – carry out a legionella risk assessment by a competent person who is trained under ACoP L8

> Remove or control identified risks

> Manage the risks on an ongoing basis

> Keep records

> Review the evaluations and controls regularly

The risk assessment process?

In most properties, avoiding the breeding of Legionella is easy enough as long the hot water is hot, the cold water is cold, and the water is used often. Realistically, there is most likely to be a problem if the property has been unoccupied for several months before a new tenancy starts. In these cases, you should be most cautious and ensure you carry out sufficient Legionella checks on the property. The frequency of a risk assessment should be no longer than every couple of years. You should check older water systems more often or if a property has been empty for an extended period, typically longer than two weeks.

Who can carry out a risk assessment?

Risk assessments in between tenancies are a good idea. A competent person can complete these assessments (not necessarily somebody professionally accredited) if they are comfortable and understand the risks.

If you are unsure of the last time your property was checked, No Letting Go provide a guaranteed national legionella control service. If you would like one of our qualified inspectors to complete an inspection report for any of your properties, please contact us for availability.


Additional Services

We provide a number of property related services for letting and management agents, housing associations and retirement rentals.

Additional Services

We provide a number of property related services for letting and management agents, housing associations and retirement rentals.