Legionnaires’ Disease - a guide for tenants

What is Legionnaires’ Disease?

Legionnaires’ Disease is a potentially fatal pneumonia-like illness, caused by inhalation of droplets of contaminated water containing legionella bacteria.

Legionella bacteria can contaminate and grow in domestic hot and cold water systems. Tenants of rented accommodation should follow the below guidance to minimise the risk of contracting Legionnaires’ Disease within their home.

Who is at risk?

Everyone is susceptible to infection, but it can be a particular risk for elderly people or those with chest and lung problems. People at a higher risk for Legionnaires’ Disease include:

  • People over 45 years of age
  • Smokers and heavy drinkers
  • People suffering from chronic respiratory or kidney disease
  • Anyone with an impaired immune system

Legionnaires’ disease is not contagious, and not everyone who comes into contact with legionella bacteria will become ill.

How to minimise risk in your home

To minimise the risk of contracting Legionnaires’ Disease, it is important to make sure:

  • Hot water in the system is kept hot
  • Cold water in the system is kept cold
  • The water is kept circulated

To ensure your water is safe:

  • Your water should come out at 50°c after running for no more than a minute – let us know if your boiler or hot water tank is not working properly, particularly if the water in your taps is not coming out at this temperature.
  • Do not interfere with the settings on your boiler or hot water system – your hot water should be set to heat up to 60°c.
  • If your cold water is still running warm after you have initially run off any water, let us know. Your cold water should not be above 20°c.
  • Let us know if there are problems, debris or discolouration in the water.

When running a shower:

Occasionally flush your shower by running it for at least two minutes per week. Make sure you keep out of the way while this is done.
Clean your shower head every six months – you should descale and disinfect it when you do this.

During holidays and vacant periods:

If you’re leaving a property vacant for a period of time, e.g. over a term break, please ensure you flush your hot and cold water systems when you return by running all outlets for at least two minutes.

Additionally, you can inform the Housing team and we will arrange access for flushing on your behalf.

Contact the housing team

Symptoms of Legionnaires’ Disease

Common symptoms of Legionnaires’ Disease include:

  • A cough
  • Trouble breathing
  • Chest pain
  • A high temperature
  • Flu-like symptoms

If you experience the following symptoms, please call 111 to seek medical advice:

  • You can’t breathe properly
  • You have severe chest pain
  • You feel as if you have severe flu