High risk of Legionnaire's Disease in flat

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tsrlad121
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Hi all,

As everyone might know finding accommodation in Scotland has been very tough this year. I have been very lucky in applying for a private flat as I have just received the contract to sign.

Attached was a Legionnaire's Disease risk assessment saying that the risk is high due to unsuitable cold water storage. I phoned the agent and they have assured me that the tap water is mains and that remedy work has been done on the tank post inspection, but I am still uncertain.

What should I do in this situation? I have rented privately before but never been in this situation. I really need this flat :/

Any advice is appreciated.

Thanks.
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Callicious
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I'd think it would depend on the tank-

I live in a flat where the hot water comes via a big ol' lead tank, curtesy of the early 1900's. The cold water in the kitchen is mains, but elsewhere it's from that tank, too. No clue about legionnaires, but I don't drink the water from the tank and leave the kitchen tap going at least 20-30 seconds before taking water (unless I intend to boil it) to avoid the risks associated with mixing/etc with that tank.

Anyway, I've lived here for 3 years with no problems yet. The tank is cobwebby and nasty, and lord knows what lives in it, but I'm not dead yet so...
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Reality Check
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(Original post by tsrlad121)
Hi all,

As everyone might know finding accommodation in Scotland has been very tough this year. I have been very lucky in applying for a private flat as I have just received the contract to sign.

Attached was a Legionnaire's Disease risk assessment saying that the risk is high due to unsuitable cold water storage. I phoned the agent and they have assured me that the tap water is mains and that remedy work has been done on the tank post inspection, but I am still uncertain.

What should I do in this situation? I have rented privately before but never been in this situation. I really need this flat :/

Any advice is appreciated.

Thanks
Where did you find the report from? Is it possible to contact the author and discuss it, or to ask the agent for some sort of proof from the landlord that the work has been completed? You risk having the agent tell you that they'll just let the flat to someone else, but it depends on your assessment of the possible risk to your health, and whether or not you're prepared to take the agent's word for it that the work has been completed, or whether you feel you need to see some concrete evidence to support this statement.
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tsrlad121
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(Original post by Callicious)
I'd think it would depend on the tank-

I live in a flat where the hot water comes via a big ol' lead tank, curtesy of the early 1900's. The cold water in the kitchen is mains, but elsewhere it's from that tank, too. No clue about legionnaires, but I don't drink the water from the tank and leave the kitchen tap going at least 20-30 seconds before taking water (unless I intend to boil it) to avoid the risks associated with mixing/etc with that tank.

Anyway, I've lived here for 3 years with no problems yet. The tank is cobwebby and nasty, and lord knows what lives in it, but I'm not dead yet so...
Thanks for the reply!

Yeah I think we have similar setups in our flats. I am fairly sure that the cold water is just for the emersion heater for the shower and the bathroom sink. Kitchen sink seems to be mains. The main argument made in the risk assessment was that the water vapour from the tank was where the risk was highest.

I have seen pictures of the tank and it is probably one of the most disgusting things I have ever seen in my life lol. I guess if the agency can provide proof that it has been replaced/repaired then I think it should be ok.

Thanks for sharing your experience!
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Callicious
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(Original post by tsrlad121)
Thanks for the reply!

Yeah I think we have similar setups in our flats. I am fairly sure that the cold water is just for the emersion heater for the shower and the bathroom sink. Kitchen sink seems to be mains. The main argument made in the risk assessment was that the water vapour from the tank was where the risk was highest.

I have seen pictures of the tank and it is probably one of the most disgusting things I have ever seen in my life lol. I guess if the agency can provide proof that it has been replaced/repaired then I think it should be ok.

Thanks for sharing your experience!
Sounds about right- legionnaires is apparently most likely to be caused by inhalation of airborne water spray/etc. And yes. That tank is nasty. I got a plumber in to get a quote for having it removed (see: it wasn't removed... £700... ) and I got a good fat glimpse of it. There were more dead spiders and and more dust than I had ever seen in my life. The tank itself was clear though- all the lead must have killed off whatever tried living in it long ago, :lol:.

Also that immersion heater is a bloody nightmare. 5-10 minutes for hot water is one thing, but sometimes I forget to turn it off! The bills from it are astro-freaking-nomical.
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tsrlad121
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(Original post by Reality Check)
Where did you find the report from? Is it possible to contact the author and discuss it, or to ask the agent for some sort of proof from the landlord that the work has been completed? You risk having the agent tell you that they'll just let the flat to someone else, but it depends on your assessment of the possible risk to your health, and whether or not you're prepared to take the agent's word for it that the work has been completed, or whether you feel you need to see some concrete evidence to support this statement.
Thanks for the reply!

The report was attached along with the contract to sign. I think I still have priority as I have paid a deposit and gone through some quite strict reference checks. But I appreciate your concern.

Whilst on the phone with the agent I was assured that they will email me evidence of the repairs. I haven't received any as of yet hence why I have posted on here - I just wanted to see if anyone else has been through a similar situation.

After the crazy two years we have had health is definitely important for me. I'm sure I am being overly cautious here but I guess its better to be safe than sorry.

Thanks for your input
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tsrlad121
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(Original post by Callicious)
Sounds about right- legionnaires is apparently most likely to be caused by inhalation of airborne water spray/etc. And yes. That tank is nasty. I got a plumber in to get a quote for having it removed (see: it wasn't removed... £700... ) and I got a good fat glimpse of it. There were more dead spiders and and more dust than I had ever seen in my life. The tank itself was clear though- all the lead must have killed off whatever tried living in it long ago, :lol:.

Also that immersion heater is a bloody nightmare. 5-10 minutes for hot water is one thing, but sometimes I forget to turn it off! The bills from it are astro-freaking-nomical.
Sorry to hear about your issues! I guess this must be more common than I originally thought.

My thought is that if the issue has been resolved to some extent I will take the flat - as I said I'm desperate for a place lol.

Oh and yeah we have one in my parent's home - absolute nightmare we once left it on before going on holiday - thankfully a friend turned it off for us xD
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Callicious
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(Original post by tsrlad121)
Sorry to hear about your issues! I guess this must be more common than I originally thought.

My thought is that if the issue has been resolved to some extent I will take the flat - as I said I'm desperate for a place lol.

Oh and yeah we have one in my parent's home - absolute nightmare we once left it on before going on holiday - thankfully a friend turned it off for us xD
Basically any tenement flat in Scotland has this living situation sadly. Old sash windows, poor insulation, horrific heating (see: gas/inefficient immersion), all falling apart.
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tsrlad121
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(Original post by Callicious)
Basically any tenement flat in Scotland has this living situation sadly. Old sash windows, poor insulation, horrific heating (see: gas/inefficient immersion), all falling apart.
Yeah, is a bit of a nightmare to be fair. Everything about this flat is actually quite good (double glazing, not ground floor, garden etc) but this risk assessment is a real stinker
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Reality Check
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(Original post by tsrlad121)
Thanks for the reply!

The report was attached along with the contract to sign. I think I still have priority as I have paid a deposit and gone through some quite strict reference checks. But I appreciate your concern.

Whilst on the phone with the agent I was assured that they will email me evidence of the repairs. I haven't received any as of yet hence why I have posted on here - I just wanted to see if anyone else has been through a similar situation.

After the crazy two years we have had health is definitely important for me. I'm sure I am being overly cautious here but I guess its better to be safe than sorry.

Thanks for your input
No problem I think you're right to want to see proof of the repairs, and you could try chivving the agent for them.
(Original post by Callicious)
Basically any tenement flat in Scotland has this living situation sadly. Old sash windows, poor insulation, horrific heating (see: gas/inefficient immersion), all falling apart.
I had no idea the private rental sector in Scotland had got so bad. Is it driven by a lack of supply?
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Callicious
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(Original post by Reality Check)
No problem I think you're right to want to see proof of the repairs, and you could try chivving the agent for them.

I had no idea the private rental sector in Scotland had got so bad. Is it driven by a lack of supply?
Going on the assumption that most of them are in Edinburgh (which is the only sample I can really draw from personal/anecdotal experience from friends/relatives) it's likely down to cost and legislation. Might have been a bit facetious with saying it was all of Scotland :lol:

I'm legally not allowed to change my windows out for anything that isn't sash, something to do with ruining the historic aesthetic of my area, for example. Obviously the council isn't going to subsidize that, though, and sash is markedly more expensive than standard PVC double-glazed regular windows. I'm not willing to pay for that, either. The neighbours in 3A/B are both students and have a similar situation: the landlord (who also lives in the building, actually) is refusing to replace the windows for them, despite both of them being on the ground floor facing the street and burglary being a cause of concern... that's an example of the legislation (partly) causing an issue, at least where I am. Those second-years have no luck in paying for it though :lol

The landlord is actually a decent guy I have to add: he doesn't overcharge on rent or anything and responds to all the other problems that lot have. Just have to throw that in (he also has a really cute cat! )

As for cost... removing an old lead tank, stripping out all the lead pipes... not exactly very easy. It's a lot easier to tell your tenants "Don't drink the water in the bathroom and only use the cold water in the kitchen, unless you want to get lead poisoning" than spend £8,000 (my quote just for the plumbing...) doing all the work. In my time fishing for apartments around Edinburgh for 2nd year, almost every tenement I visited had the same conditions: old lead water tanks, atrocious interior quality, and horrific energy ratings. Some of the flats actually had mains for everything, but because removing the tank (after draining it and simply throwing in a boiler instead of the immersion heater, and a mains hook-up to the bathroom) was uneconomical, it had been left there to occupy space and contribute nothing but dead weight. It's honestly ridiculous!

All that being said, HMO's are still a decent option. They're not allowed to have the whole lead-pipe situation and actually have standards to conform to. If you're with friends and renting a place from a landlord which has the place HMO licensed, you're fine (though they do often charge extortionate costs to students, because students.)

If it were a legal requirement that all such problems were rectified (see: modern energy/plumbing/electricity standards, even for old buildings) and grants were provided to do this where the owner wasn't able to afford such an effort (see: the poor) I really do think Scotland would be a much better place to live, though I can't see that happening any time soon, sadly. It'd be pretty cool to see a case where such grants were provided without means testing, but instead as some form of loan, where repayment would occur automatically to the Gov't once a sale were carried out on the property (in which case the Gov't would get back any of their losses in providing their loan, possibly with a % increase or decrease based on the valuation of the property, something like that!)
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Reality Check
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(Original post by Callicious)
Going on the assumption that most of them are in Edinburgh (which is the only sample I can really draw from personal/anecdotal experience from friends/relatives) it's likely down to cost and legislation. Might have been a bit facetious with saying it was all of Scotland :lol:

I'm legally not allowed to change my windows out for anything that isn't sash, something to do with ruining the historic aesthetic of my area, for example. Obviously the council isn't going to subsidize that, though, and sash is markedly more expensive than standard PVC double-glazed regular windows. I'm not willing to pay for that, either. The neighbours in 3A/B are both students and have a similar situation: the landlord (who also lives in the building, actually) is refusing to replace the windows for them, despite both of them being on the ground floor facing the street and burglary being a cause of concern... that's an example of the legislation (partly) causing an issue, at least where I am. Those second-years have no luck in paying for it though :lol

The landlord is actually a decent guy I have to add: he doesn't overcharge on rent or anything and responds to all the other problems that lot have. Just have to throw that in (he also has a really cute cat! )

As for cost... removing an old lead tank, stripping out all the lead pipes... not exactly very easy. It's a lot easier to tell your tenants "Don't drink the water in the bathroom and only use the cold water in the kitchen, unless you want to get lead poisoning" than spend £8,000 (my quote just for the plumbing...) doing all the work. In my time fishing for apartments around Edinburgh for 2nd year, almost every tenement I visited had the same conditions: old lead water tanks, atrocious interior quality, and horrific energy ratings. Some of the flats actually had mains for everything, but because removing the tank (after draining it and simply throwing in a boiler instead of the immersion heater, and a mains hook-up to the bathroom) was uneconomical, it had been left there to occupy space and contribute nothing but dead weight. It's honestly ridiculous!

All that being said, HMO's are still a decent option. They're not allowed to have the whole lead-pipe situation and actually have standards to conform to. If you're with friends and renting a place from a landlord which has the place HMO licensed, you're fine (though they do often charge extortionate costs to students, because students.)

If it were a legal requirement that all such problems were rectified (see: modern energy/plumbing/electricity standards, even for old buildings) and grants were provided to do this where the owner wasn't able to afford such an effort (see: the poor) I really do think Scotland would be a much better place to live, though I can't see that happening any time soon, sadly. It'd be pretty cool to see a case where such grants were provided without means testing, but instead as some form of loan, where repayment would occur automatically to the Gov't once a sale were carried out on the property (in which case the Gov't would get back any of their losses in providing their loan, possibly with a % increase or decrease based on the valuation of the property, something like that!)
This is very interesting, and I've learnt something new from it, which I always like. Thank you
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Dave_tradesman
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Hi I am studying level 2 plumbing if the water is off the mains it is safe for drinking , you can tell this by A. you pay water rates for sewage and water. B. there would be a stop tap somewhere in your house .If water is left standing for two weeks or more in a tank if yo i.e if you are moving into an old building or going on holidays or you have the old copper tank just flush it [keep the tap running for five] if you have a new boiler hot and cold system you will be fine .if you don't trust your landlord I know in Wales welsh water are the mains people , google Scotland water mains and who ever governs the water mains can tell you if your house/flat is on a water mains
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tsrlad121
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(Original post by Dave_tradesman)
Hi I am studying level 2 plumbing if the water is off the mains it is safe for drinking , you can tell this by A. you pay water rates for sewage and water. B. there would be a stop tap somewhere in your house .If water is left standing for two weeks or more in a tank if yo i.e if you are moving into an old building or going on holidays or you have the old copper tank just flush it [keep the tap running for five] if you have a new boiler hot and cold system you will be fine .if you don't trust your landlord I know in Wales welsh water are the mains people , google Scotland water mains and who ever governs the water mains can tell you if your house/flat is on a water mains
Thanks for the advice!
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