Renting out property is a great way to make profit, wherever you may be in the world. If you have a piece of property that can be turned into suitable accommodation for different kinds of tenants (individuals, big families, tourists, and the like), you can earn income from the monthly rent that you will be paid.
In the UK, landlords are generally described as any individual who rents out property that they own under a licence or a lease that does not exceed seven years. The duties of a landlord apply to those in charge of a diverse range of accommodation, including housing associations or co-operatives, hostels, local authorities and private sector landlords.
More than the money
Of course, since other people will be living and spending time in your property, their health and safety throughout the duration of their stay is also your responsibility. There are various regulations created to ensure that tenants are protected against health and safety hazards, the most notable of which are:
- Section 3(2) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 (HSWA)
- The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 (COSHH)
- Legionella Control Guidance HSG 274 Part 2 Hot & Cold Water Systems
These regulations point out the landlord’s duty to ensure that tenants are not exposed to health and safety risks, and that risks arising from hazardous substance (including biological agents) are identified and assessed so that the proper control measures can be effectively implemented.
Keeping Legionella at bay
One of the responsibilities of a landlord is to make sure that the rental properties’ water systems do not contain Legionella bacteria which can cause Legionnaires’ disease. This is a potentially fatal type of pneumonia that a person can contract after inhaling water droplets contaminated with the bacteria.
Legionella bacteria will proliferate in domestic and commercial rental accommodation if the conditions are favourable — if the water temperature is just right, if there is a sufficient food supply for the bacteria to feed on (scale, sludge, rust, biofilm, and the like), and if the water is converted into aerosols or water droplets that are then dispersed into the environment.
What can landlords do?
It is good practice and certainly prudent for landlords to be proactive about using Legionella testing kits to monitor the quality of the water systems in their rental premises. Doing so demonstrates to your potential and existing tenants that you value their safety and health, as well as the integrity of your properties.
More than just operating a business, landlords are also taking the health and safety of tenants upon their shoulders, so having the proper measures in place to check for these significant health risks is a responsibility that they must uphold.