Residents’ guide to water hygiene

by The Gateshead Housing Company & filed under Help in your home - Water hygiene, Owning your home, Owning your home - leaseholders.

Improving homesAt The Gateshead Housing Company we aim to meet the highest standard of water hygiene in our properties.

This page explains our responsibilities as a housing provider and your responsibilities as a tenant.

The risk to your health is extremely low, and this information is intended only as a reference.

Why water hygiene is important

Although the risk is very low, there is a chance that legionella bacteria can develop in stagnant or stored water.

Legionella causes the serious lung infection Legionnaire’s disease.

Symptoms of this are a high fever, muscle pain and chills, and possibly a persistent cough, chest pains and breathing difficulties.

Anyone can become infected with Legionnaire’s disease, but some people are at increased risk:

  • People aged over 50
  • Those with a respiratory disease or other illness
  • People with conditions such as cancer, diabetes or kidney disease
  • Alcoholics, smokers, and those with an impaired immune system. 

Want to know more about legionella?

The NHS website has more information, or call us on 0191 433 5353.

Water hygiene in your property

Our responsibilities

We are committed to looking after the health of our residents, and will be visiting properties to complete a water hygiene risk assessment and any necessary works.

We use qualified surveyors and consultants to assess the risks and identify any works required to reduce the likelihood of bacteria living in your water systems.

Your responsibilities

Follow these simple steps to keep your home’s water supply clean and healthy.

If you have been away from your property for a week or more:

  • Taps – run them for 3-5 minutes
  • Shower – flush this safely and without creating water droplets by placing the shower head in a plastic carrier bag, filling the bag with water then gently pouring the water away
  • Toilet – flush twice to circulate fresh water through the system and empty the cistern, ensuring the lid is down. If you have a Clos-o-mat bidet-toilet you should switch it off at the wall if you intend to be away from the property for a week or more so warm water is not left standing in the cistern.

In addition:

  • Clean shower/spray taps of scale and debris every three to six months, or earlier if scaling is evident
  • If you have a spa bath, clean as per the manufacturer’s instructions
  • If you have an electric hot-water tank, it is advised that you fully heat the water to 60˚c at least two to three times per week.

Information for leaseholders

If you are a leaseholder you have a legal responsibility to conduct a risk assessment and review it if you make changes to the water systems.

You may conduct the risk assessment yourself if you have sufficient understanding of water systems.

If you sub-let the property you are still responsible for the risk assessment and for providing advice to your tenant.

You must review the risk assessment upon each change of tenancy and if there are changes to the water systems.

It is not essential to have the risk assessment documented if, in the event of a problem, you are able to describe to the Health and Safety Executive how the risks were assessed.

However, it is advisable to provide a document if you sub-let the property.

Want to know more?

If you are not sure about anything or have further questions, please contact us:

Phone: 0191 433 5353