By Steve Roulstone

There are times a as a Letting Agent that it feels as if the whole world is looking to upset your apple cart. No sooner do we get to grips with the Localism Act when along comes the HSE and offers up another tasty treat for Landlords and Agents to comply with. This time it is Legionnaires disease and the implications of removing the size limit in water tanks that has bought every rented property in the country in line with the new Code of Practise issues by the HSE.

What Next!

I am not suprised that the Industry has read the detail and asked open mouthed what else are we liable to be asked to take on board? There are cases of Legionnaires found in residential homes, but if we start looking at statistics for the reasons why people fall ill in the home, or have accidents, then Legionnaires falls way down the list of matters that need addressing! The problem is that the HSE are the organisation responsible for controlling the disease, so as soon as the 300litre tank size restriction was removed, they have no option but to advise Landlords and Agents accordingly.

It’s a silly world.

It would of course be easy to look at other areas of concern and suggest for example that stairs are banned; all glass is covered by wire protection; cookers are limited to low temperatures; kettles are banned; children are banned from kitchens and treat all areas of danger in the same manner. There are times when we all think that such matters are treated with overkill, I am no different!

Deal with the facts.

 And those facts are that the industry is now evaluating the situation and dealing with the new Code of Practise. On the face of it and the initial reaction from the Industry suggested that there would now need to be further costs generated by regular inspections of all internal water systems. But I believe that those looking at the situation will be able to give us clear guide lines as we look to take the Code of Practise on board in a practical manner.  

Tenant responsibility.

Before and between tenancies, we will ensure systems are in place to deal with the requirements. Where a Tenancy exists, we will probably develop a strategy to deal with instructing the Tenant on how to ensure the problem is dealt with during the Tenancy by following prescribed instruction at regular intervals, such as heating the water system to required temperatures especially in modern property where the system can be easily dealt with. In older properties, it may well be a requirement that any areas of concern are highlighted and dealt with through an inspection.     

Professionals.

At the end of the day, we will deal with this as we have dealt with the numerous changes in legislation introduced in the last ten years, in the right manner. As I have always said if we call ourselves professionals, we deal with matters professionally. Even though it still seems like a sledge hammer to crack a nut! I once had a Health and Safety expert as a Tenant, who questioned the standard of fence between gardens at a newly built property, because his neighbours had a dog that barked at him every time he went in the garden. His take was that it is our responsibility to protect him as our Tenant from all eventualities.

Sensible solution.

 I wondered at the time if that would include building gates at the end of the drive, chopping down the trees across the road and installing conveyer belts for use instead of the stairs. What we do do as a matter of course is address these issues in a sensible and practical way. We ensure fences offer security, dog or no dog, trust people to be able to drive on the road and not crash in too the house, have people take responsibility for tree safety, in this case the local council on an adopted road and ensure that a hand rail is in place to assist everybody using the stairs. No doubt the solution for dealing with Legionnaires disease in the home will also prove to be just as practical!

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