Private landlords in Scotland are required to comply with The Repairing Standard – a statutory guidance for private landlords from 1 March 2024. The Repairing Standard includes water testing for a range of elements to ensure safe drinking water for tenants. For the full guidance see the relevant website of the Scottish government as well as guidelines by Drinking Water Quality Regulator for Scotland (DWQR).
One of the requirements is that the water supply in private rented properties is free of lead pipes, lead lined storage tanks as well as fittings containing lead – from the boundary stopcock to the kitchen tap.
What the Standard says regarding Lead in drinking water:
“Private landlords must check visible pipework within the house to assess whether the supply runs through lead pipes…”
“…Where additional testing is required and not provided by Scottish Water or the local authority, there are private laboratories that are UKAS accredited to BS17025 that can provide this service for a fee.”
A lot of older properties (mostly built before 1970s) contain lead pipes. Lead can also be present in properties built after that, as part of lead solder (banned in 1987) or fittings and taps – for more details on lead in drinking water & the health impact click here. When water comes in contact with lead pipes, lead-lined tanks or lead-solder, especially for longer periods of time, it absorbs lead. Lead pipes can be recognised by their dull grey colour, can easily be scratched to reveal shiny silver metal and have slight bulges at joints.
A part of a landlords risk assessment is making sure a property is free from hazards and safe for tenants. If you are renting out a property, as the landlord, you are responsible for checking your water systems are safe. The UK maximum contaminant level for Lead in tap water set by DWI/DEFRA is 10µg/l (=10ppb = 0.01mg/l = 0.01ppm).
Testing water for lead using a laboratory test UKAS accredited to BS17025 is easy.
For more information and to order your lead test for the Repairing Standard: Lead Water Test (Laboratory Test)
Once an order is placed, we will provide you with everything required to carry out the analysis, including take the water sample as well as return shipping labels.
Outlets to test: Scottish government guidance states that water should be tested at all outlets where water may be consumed between the boundary stopcock and the kitchen tap. In most properties, the kitchen tap should be tested as a minimum. It is recommended to take the water sample first thing in the morning (before any water is drawn, so that the sample contains water which has been sitting in the pipe overnight).
Once the water samples have been taken, they should be shipped to the lab within 1-2 days for detailed analysis. Once the samples have arrived, the results will be available within 6-10 working days and a report will be issued.
For more information and to order your UKAS accredited to BS17025 lead water test for the Repairing Standard: Lead Water Test (Laboratory Test)
Results – Next Steps: Should the test result show lead content at or above 3 µg/l (=3ppb = 0.03mg/l = 0.03ppm), this indicates that there is some lead present in the plumbing. The tenants must be informed immediately. In the short-term tenants should be informed that they should avoid consuming water which has been standing in pipes for several hours (e.g. overnight) as well as drawing off water (until it feels cold) to clear the water which has been standing in the pipes before using it for drinking or cooking – for more details on lead in drinking water click here.
In the long term, lead pipes should be replaced. The landlord is responsible for locating and removing any lead pipes in the sections of pipework which are not the responsibility of Scottish Water. The water should then be re-sampled to ensure that the lead content is below the required amount of 3 µg/l.
Disclaimer: Only opinions based upon our own personal experience or information detailed in academic journals or other publications is cited. This has been done exclusively for anyone who is interested in this subject but is not intended to replace proper analysis. We cannot accept responsibility and liability of any kind which may result from the application of this information. We always recommend to consult an expert to discuss any test results or get a full recommendation on the specific subject and specific to your situation by an expert.
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