Condensation is the most common cause of mould in rented properties

The combination of damp, cold weather, and people cutting back on energy by not using the tumble dryer and central heating, has led to a rise in the number of homes with mould and condensation problems in rental properties.

Mould is a type of fungus that grows in moist environments. It can grow on any surface, including walls, ceilings, floors, and furniture, and it can cause a musty odour. It can cause a range of health problems for those exposed to it, such as allergies, respiratory issues and infections.

If not addressed quickly, mould in your home can lead to serious health problems for the tenants and structural damage to the property.

What causes condensation?

Condensation occurs when warm, moist air comes into contact with cold surfaces, such as a window or wall, and the moisture in the air condenses into water vapour droplets. This can lead to damp conditions, which are ideal for the growth of mould.

Mould can also be caused by faulty heating or poor insulation, which are the responsibility of the landlord if you live in a rented property. Landlords have a legal obligation to ensure that the property is free from damp and mould, and that any issues are promptly addressed.

Whether or not your landlord is responsible for the mould growing in your home depends on what’s causing it in the first place.

Mould and condensation prevention

To prevent mould and condensation in rental properties, there are several steps that can be actioned by tenants:

  • Ventilation: Proper ventilation helps to keep the air in the property circulating and reduces the risk of damp conditions. This can be achieved through the use of exhaust fans in the kitchen and bathroom, as well as having doors and windows open regularly to allow fresh air to enter the property.
  • Heating: Keeping the property warm and dry is essential to avoid condensation which will help prevent mould growth. It usually helps to have a low background temperature of at least 15 degrees in all rooms.
  • Controlling moisture: To help reduce the amount of condensation, cover pans when cooking, keep kitchen or bathroom doors closed when you cook or shower. Leave a gap between furniture and external walls and dry clothes outdoors if possible.
  • Cleaning: Regular cleaning, especially in areas that are prone to damp such as the bathroom and kitchen, can help to prevent mould and condensation. This includes wiping down surfaces, vacuuming and mopping regularly, as well as removing any items that may be collecting moisture.

Reporting a condensation and/or mould issue to your landlord

If you notice mould or condensation in your rental property, it is important to report it to your landlord as soon as possible. Here are some steps you can take to ensure that the issue is properly addressed:

  1. Document the problem: Take photos of the affected areas and make notes of when and where the mould or condensation was first noticed. This will provide your landlord with a clear understanding of the problem and help them to take the appropriate action.
  2. Contact your landlord: Get in touch with your landlord and explain the issue. Provide them with the photos and notes that you have taken and let them know how the problem is affecting your health and well-being.
  3. Keep records: Keep a record of all communication with your landlord, including the date and time of each conversation, and the details of what was discussed. This will be useful in the event of a dispute.
  4. Follow up: If your landlord doesn’t take action to address the issue, follow up with them regularly until it is resolved. If the issue is not addressed after a reasonable amount of time, consider seeking legal advice.

Note that if the mould is being caused by your lifestyle – for example, if you fail to allow air to circulate – then you may be responsible for fixing it.

Landlords’ responsibilities

Landlords should carry out regular maintenance and repairs, such as fixing leaky pipes and fixing cracks in the walls and ceilings, which help to prevent mould and condensation. This includes ensuring that the property is free from water damage and fixing any roof leaks promptly which would be spotted during regular property inspections.

Once an issue is reported, the landlord should then arrange an inspection and carry out any repairs in a reasonable time. Once the issue is fixed, your landlord should also replace any damaged plaster, skirting boards or flooring. They should redecorate if needed once the problem is fixed.

The landlord may need to carry out improvements if repairs do not fix a problem. If rising damp is an ongoing problem that needs repeated repairs, they may have to install a damp proof course.

If the damp is not caused by a repair issue, your landlord should still look at improvements to the heating, insulation or ventilation which may include installing extractor fans. Some landlords may supply a dehumidifier rather than make expensive improvements.

Adequate insulation helps to keep a property warm and reduces the risk of condensation. If the property is not well insulated, the landlord may consider installing insulation in the walls and ceilings or adding draught-proofing around windows and doors to reduce heat loss.

Once you’ve identified a mould and condensation problem and reported it to your landlord, they have two obligations: to organise an investigation and carry out repairs within a reasonable timeframe.

In conclusion, mould and condensation are serious problems in rental properties that can have serious health and structural consequences if not addressed properly. By following the steps outlined above, tenants and landlords can help to prevent these problems from occurring and ensure that their properties are safe, healthy, and comfortable for their tenants.

Please contact Pelin Martin to book a 30-minute complimentary property consultation on +0208 994 7327.