Water hygiene & sanitation

Managing & maintaining water safety: top tips for landlords

Julie Spinks, director of WaterSafe, advises landlords how to manage and maintain water safety to the best standard

customers with legally recognised certificates, confirming the plumbing work carried out is compliant with the regulations.

USE APPROVED PRODUCTS AND ENSURE PLUMBING SYSTEMS COMPLY Landlords have a legal duty to ensure their property’s plumbing system is installed and maintained to comply with national requirements. Plumbing materials and fittings must be of a suitable standard. Under the

regulations, it is not illegal to sell unsuitable fittings and appliances but to install one would be, so check suitability before purchase.


ealing with plumbing problems can be time-consuming and costly. However, many call-outs can be prevented if landlords are familiar with the key regulations regarding water safety management and

follow best practice.

KEEP ON THE RIGHT SIDE OF THE LAW Water safety legislation exists to protect public health and promote the efficient use of water. Te key regulations that landlords need to familiarise themselves with include the Water Supply (Water Fittings) Regulations 1999 and Scottish Water Byelaws, alongside the recommendations of water suppliers in the Water Regulations Advisory Scheme’s (WRAS) Water Regulations Guide and any conditions of consent from the local water provider.

USE AN APPROVED PLUMBER For peace of mind, it’s recommended that landlords use a qualified approved plumber. WaterSafe, the national register for plumbers, provides a dedicated online

search facility bringing together thousands of qualified contractors employed by plumbing businesses. Members are fully trained in the water supply regulations and byelaws, carry agreed levels of public liability insurance, and operate a customer complaints scheme. Tey can also offer advice on water efficiency and repairing leaks, which can

help save money if there is a water meter, and check for misconnections, where toilets or appliances like washing machines are wrongly connected to rainwater drains – causing pollution to the local environment.

GIVE ADVANCED NOTIFICATION OF PLUMBING WORK Plumbing work may require permission from the local water supplier before work can start. Notifications are required by law and cover a wide range of plumbing work, from installing a bathroom in an extension or new home, to fitting a large bath. To gain permission, the water supplier will need the landlord’s name,

address, and contact details, a description of the proposed work and location, and details of the plumbing contractor if an approved plumber is being used. Some water suppliers may ask for additional information such as a list of water fittings and evidence of their compliance with the Water Supply (Water Fittings) Regulations. Notifying the local water supplier is free and the process is quick, but failure to

do so could result in prosecution or the need to carry out additional work later. Approved plumbers can carry out some work without the need to give advanced notification. Tey can also advise on approved products and provide

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BE WINTER READY Plumbing must be properly maintained to protect against damage or freezing. When temperatures drop below zero degrees, frozen and burst water pipes can cause flooding, damage and leave homes without water. Here is a handy checklist for winter-ready properties: • Know where the stop tap is and check it’s working • Make sure all pipes in unheated areas and outside taps are insulated • Fix any dripping taps or toilet cisterns – this will also save water • Check central heating boilers have been serviced by a Gas Safe engineer

• Advise tenants to leave heating on and set the thermostat to 14°C • Give tenants the name and number of an approved plumber to hand for emergencies

KEEP DRINKING WATER SAFE Once water enters a private property, it’s the landlord’s responsibility to ensure it remains fresh, healthy, of the highest quality and safe to use. Having ensured that approved products are used, and plumbing systems

comply, landlords should follow these top tips to maintain healthy drinking water in their properties: • Check for lead pipes, and never use lead solder on plumbing for tap water – lead pipes should be replaced to avoid high levels in the water, which can particularly affect children

• Ensure taps are regularly cleaned to avoid the growth of bacteria and other microorganisms

• If drinking water has an antiseptic taste, it may be due to rubber or plastic materials used in the home, such as tap washers, washing machine and dishwasher hoses. Connections for these appliances should be made with approved products or include a single check valve. Tis will prevent water returning to drinking water taps or the mains supply

• Ensure that the plumbing system is designed to prevent stagnation. An earthy or musty taste may be due to poor plumbing which allows water to remain in the pipes or tanks for longer than necessary

• If the property has a cold water storage cistern (tank), make sure it is in good condition and has a close-fitting lid of a suitable material that will not deteriorate or allow microorganisms to grow on it and drip into the water. Te lid prevents debris falling in and polluting the water supply • Where required, make sure you give notification of plumbing work

HELP NEW TENANTS HELP THEMSELVES WaterSafe runs a Moving House campaign providing five top plumbing tips for people moving into a new property. It’s available as an A5 postcard and electronic flyer, which landlords can share with tenants.

Julie Spinks is the director of WaterSafe

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