Damp and Mould – What are your responsibilities when renting out your property?
With the warm days of Summer now a distant memory and our days and nights getting colder and wetter I think it’s safe to say that Autumn has arrived. Unfortunately, with Autumn generally comes the threat of damp and mould in our properties and as some landlords will be affected by this problem throughout the Autumn and Winter months I thought I’d take a look at this issue and the responsibilities of both tenant and landlord with regard to this problem.
Types of Damp:
Condensation : occurs when excess moisture in the air comes into contact with cold surfaces and can also result in mould growth appearing on windows and cold interior walls. This can be worse in Winter as doors and windows are kept closed, stopping air from circulating around a property.
Rising Damp: is usually found in older properties where moisture in the earth is drawn up into the bricks or concrete and where the property has a broken damp course or no damp course at all.
Penetrating Damp: occurs when there is an internal leak in a property which goes un-repaired allowing water to penetrate the walls or roof.
Whose responsibility is it to deal with damp and mould?
Responsibility for damp and mould can be difficult to apportion, it generally depends on the type of mould in the property and the reason for it.
The Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 states that maintenance of the structure and exterior
of a property as well as the supply of water, gas, electricity, heating and hot water are the landlord’s responsibility and therefore responsibility to resolve issues relating to rising and penetrating damp caused by problems with the structure of the property will usually sit with the landlord.
Responsibility for damp and mould caused by condensation is a little more difficult to apportion as it’s usually caused by poor ventilation in a room and this could be the result of windows and doors being left closed, blocking of air bricks and not using extractor fans in bathrooms and kitchens, all of these stop air circulating around a property, and therefore could be the responsibility of the tenant.
Landlords need to be aware that the Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) bill is due to be passed which will amend the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985. This new bill will use the Human Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS) as its main point of reference for assessing whether or not a home is fit for habitation. Damp and Mould are the first items on the HHSRS and it is likely therefore that Landlords will be expected to deal with these issues should they have them in their properties.