Drinking Water Ordinance: Landlords are now also responsible for the water

In recent years there have been increased cases of legionella in drinking water. To counteract this situation, the legislator amended the existing Drinking Water Ordinance (TrinkwV) on November 1, 2011. Landlords also have new obligations. 

The new regulation affects every homeowner who supplies water as part of a commercial activity such as renting. Since apartment buildings are usually equipped with a central hot water system, their landlords are affected by the obligations of the new regulation. But apartment owners must also make a decision on how the regulation can be implemented.

Homeowners or administrators must then ensure the following measures:

  • Obligation to notify:  Information on the inventory of central hot water preparation systems as well as structural or operational changes to the health department.
  • Compulsory testing:  Annual water sampling at representative points in the facility by approved laboratories.
  • Obligation to keep records:  Recording of the treatment materials used and their concentration in the system. This information must be made available to tenants on a regular basis if they so wish.
  • Duty to provide information/duty to post:  Information on the results of the quality of the drinking water provided must be communicated to the tenants in writing or posted in the building.

From December 1, 2013, landlords must inform their tenants whether there are still lead pipes in the house. However, the then applicable, very low lead value for drinking water can only be achieved by replacing the lead pipes.

Health hazard from legionella

The new regulation has become necessary because there are small amounts of legionella in groundwater and thus in drinking water. However, if water heating systems are set to a temperature that is too low (30-45 degrees) or if water stands in the pipes for a while in summer, then they multiply and form pathogenic germs. If they get into the lungs, these can trigger the sometimes life-threatening Legionnaires’ disease.

Not every contact with water containing legionella leads to a health hazard. Only inhalation of bacteria-containing water as an aerosol (inhalation, for example, when showering, with air conditioning, through lawn sprinklers or in whirlpools) can lead to illness. Drinking water containing legionella does not pose a health risk to people with an intact immune system.

serious consequences

You shouldn’t joke about fulfilling your obligations: Anyone who provides tenants with drinking water that is hazardous to their health must expect a prison sentence of up to two years or a fine. And even if you only violate the above-mentioned obligations or do not maintain your system, you are committing an administrative offense that can result in a high fine.

Check your drinking water system!

If you have any further questions, please  contact us . As water and heating specialists, we will inform you and competently take over the inspection, repair and maintenance of your system.

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