All properties let from October 2015 should have a legionella risk assessment. This news has probably struck horror in the hearts of conscientious and responsible landlords. So not only do they have to take responsibility for gas and electrical safety, furnishing fire regulations, carbon monoxide safety , smoke alarms, HHSRS, risk assessments, lease compliance and EPCs, a new piece of paper is required.
Some suppliers have jumped on this bandwagon and are offering risk assessment surveys – the good news is that in the vast majority of cases the risk assessment can be carried out by the landlord or agent themselves.
Legionella is a very rare (but very serious) condition which can prove fatal. It is caused by bacteria breeding in stored water. In order for the bacteria to thrive the water needs to be between 25-40 degrees and the water supply used infrequently. ‘Prime suspects’ for such bacteria are water tanks which are not kept heated, dead legs (pipes that have been capped off but still contain water or sludge), long runs of pipe-work carrying hot water to a tap, and shower heads.
Where a property has a combi-boiler and modern plumbing then the risk assessment is a relatively straightforward task and could be completed during a simple site visit (excellent examples are provide on the RLA web site (www.rla.org.uk)).
If the property has a hot water tank then landlords/agents should make sure that the water is heated to a minimum of 60 degrees and it is advisable to run water through the system and shower heads if the property has been empty for more than a week. Again this risk assessment can probably be carried out by the landlord or agent.
However if your property has an older heating system, an immersion tank for hot water and/or unknown piping under the floor it would be wise to employ the services of a specialist assessor.
The Deregulation Bill 2015 – was rushed through in the dying weeks of the previous government. One area it addressed concerned Immigration. Landlords (or their agents) need to undertake the necessary checks FROM FEBRUARY 1st 2016 to prevent those who have no right to live in the UK from taking up or remaining in tenancies. This can be complicated as the landlord (or his/her agent) is responsible for checking that the tenant’s visa or work permit does not expire during the tenancy, and if it does they need to inform the authorities.
The list of permitted residents is not clear to interpret and puts yet another arduous task onto the shoulders of landlords. A degree in Geography and international politics would certainly be an asset to master this new law. (See below for details).
Not content with making landlords and agents unpaid tax collectors, property inspectors, risk assessors and (in some cases) social workers, the new regulation puts more pressure onto the private rental sector, and crippling prosecutions can be brought. There is scant guidance for situations where (for example) a joint tenancy is awarded to a couple one of whom is a ‘permitted’ resident and the other has an expiring/expired visa. There is also no continuity in the process as to what to DO should you be in this situation. If you evict your tenant they cannot be rehoused elsewhere as they are not permitted to be on the UK, so they are more likely to go ‘underground’ or rent from unregulated and immoral landlords – hence increasing the immigration issue as well as that of bad housing……
For a little light reading, the following is a summary of the requirements
Tenancies can happily be awarded to the following; British nationals, European Union citizens, non EU member states of the EEA – i.e. Norway, Lichtenstein, Iceland and members of Overseas countries and territories.
However there are 56 countries and territories that do not need an entry visa for stays of up to 6 months. Anyone planning on staying for longer than the permitted six months must obtain a proper visa (study, work, or otherwise) in order to remain in the UK legally. Nationals of the following 10 countries now need a visa when staying in the UK longer than six months – Australia, Canada, Hong Kong SAR, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore South Africa, South Korea and the USA.