A Guide to Damp and Mould in Rented Homes

By Jamie Orr
Date 30/10/2020
a guide to damp and mould in rented homes

Damp and mould are common issues for tenants across the UK. But in rented homes, it’s not always as simple as paying to get it sorted. There are some grey areas when it comes to responsibilities for both landlords and tenants.

In this post, we’ll take a closer look at the causes of damp and mould, tenants and landlords’ responsibilities and how to resolve the problem.

What causes damp and mould?

Damp and mould are caused by excess moisture in your home, usually because of poor ventilation. This typically happens in bathrooms, kitchens and basements.  Moisture is drawn in by cold surfaces, providing the perfect environment for damp and mould to thrive. Certain lifestyle behaviours, such as drying clothes indoors or failing to use exhaust fans when cooking or showering, can raise interior humidity levels and result in dampness.

The moisture is absorbed by your walls, which in turn allows mould to grow. This can also be caused by leaks or in some rare cases rising damp, so it’s worth checking for those issues too.

Who is responsible?

Broadly speaking, landlords are responsible for providing a safe, inhabitable environment for their tenants. Given that damp and mould can trigger health problems like asthma, it’s fair to say this is a conflict with their responsibilities.

A landlord is expected to maintain the structure and exterior of the property, according to Section 11 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985. They are also in charge of ensuring that critical installations such as gas, electricity, heating, hot water and water supply are in good working order.

If the damp and mould in a rented or privately rented house has been caused by a leak or rising damp, it is the landlord's responsibility to repair the problem under Section 11.

Things are less clear, however, when there is no obvious cause.

Why? In short, tenants are responsible for looking after the property they’re living in. This includes ventilating and heating your home so that damp doesn’t build up. With that in mind, it’s sometimes hard to determine or prove exactly who’s to blame for damp and mould.

Eliminating damp and mould – for tenants

To eliminate damp and mould, as above, tenants should look to reduce the amount of moisture in their homes. Try to open windows for 5-10 minutes whenever possible, especially when you’re doing something that releases moisture. This includes:

  • Bathing
  • Showering
  • Washing dishes
  • Cooking
  • Drying clothes.

Keeping your home warm is also a good way to avoid damp and mould building up. A warmer home means fewer cold surfaces which draw moisture in. Warm air also holds more moisture, so it won’t be drawn to your walls and ceilings. Where possible, keep your home heated to at least 15-18°C.

It’s important to report any mould and damp you find to your landlord, so you can work together to eliminate it. Keep a written record of interactions by sending an email or letter detailing when you first noticed the problem, a description of it and how it is affecting your health and well-being.

Eliminating damp and mould – for landlords

If damp and mould in a rented house becomes a recurring issue and it’s clear tenants are acting responsibly, landlords should look to repair the issue. Some properties are simply susceptible to damp and mould, if they’re poorly ventilated or have specific areas that are difficult to heat, for example.

Fixing the problem will avoid costly legal proceedings, but also stop a revolving door of tenants that simply don’t want to live in your property. So how best to do it?

Heating and ventilation

Firstly, you should look to fix any issues your property has with heating and ventilation. Make sure extraction fans are working in the kitchen and bathroom, and ensure all rooms have a working radiator. If you find any radiators that are not heating up properly, bleeding them or getting professional maintenance will ensure that your home is heated properly.

Protecting the walls

In most cases, you’ll also need to treat the affected walls. Ideally, you want to make it as difficult as possible for moisture to gather. A sprayed cork coating can do exactly that, providing a thin but powerful layer that is completely moisture resistant. This solution was used to great effect when a flat in Shearsmith House, London, was found to be naturally susceptible to damp.

Repair leaks

Repair leaks as soon as possible if the dampness is caused by roof leaks, plumbing leaks, or any other source of water infiltration. Check that all of the pipes and plumbing fixtures are in good functioning order. By quickly finding and fixing roof and plumbing leaks and taking care of your plumbing, you can stop water from getting in and causing dampness and mould issues. Being proactive not only protects your home's structure but also keeps your living space healthy and cosy.

Ensure regular maintenance

Make checking for symptoms of damp and mould a regular part of your usual property maintenance. Areas to focus on include looking on ceilings for discolouration, corners for mould growth and windows for condensation and leaks. Keep an eye out for mould on tiles and grout in the bathroom.

In the kitchen, inspect for mould or dampness near sinks, dishwashers, fridges and beneath cabinets. Address any difficulties as soon as possible to avoid them from worsening and causing you more serious problems later down the line.

Try Corksol for yourself

Corksol’s sprayed cork treatment has worked wonders for countless landlords and housing authorities – as well as their tenants – eliminating damp, improving insulation and providing a comfortable living environment.

If you want to discover the benefits of cork for yourself, it’s time to find your nearest approved applicator. With expert training and exclusive access to Corksol products, they can rid your property of damp and mould with a long-lasting solution.

Contact CorkSol today on 01484 442420 or email [email protected].


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