Damp and Mould: What landlords need to know
With autumn well and truly underway, it is the time of year when I receive lots of enquires from landlords who manage their own rental properties, asking about Damp and Mould and how they should handle it.
At this time of year the threat of damp and mould in private rented property increases and therefore some landlords will have properties that will be affected by a damp or mould problems all through the autumn and winter. It is important therefore that you look after your tenant, your investment and understand your responsibilities as a landlord with regard to mould in a property;
One factor to take into consideration is the Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Bill which came into force on 20th March 2019, this amended the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985. This new bill takes the Human Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS) as its main arbiter for assessing whether or not a home is fit for habitation. Damp and Mould is the first item on the HHSRS and therefore places more responsibilities on Landlords.
Types of Damp: • Condensation - This appears on cold surfaces, usually windows, when excess moisture in the air comes into contact with them. Mould growth often occurs if it appears on cold interior walls. This can be worse in winter or depending on the property, but can also be a problem all year round. • Rising Damp - Rising damp is usually found in older properties where moisture in the ground is drawn up into the bricks or concrete.
• Penetrating Damp - This generally occurs when there is an internal leak within a property with water penetrating the walls or roof.
Whose responsibility is it to deal with damp and mould? This can be a difficult question to answer, and depends on the type of mould and the reason for it occuring. The structure and exterior of the property as well as the supply of water, gas, electricity, heating and hot water are the landlord’s responsibility to maintain. As rising and penetrating damp are caused by issues with the structure of the property or the water supply, the responsibility to resolve the issue would usually fall to the landlord.
It can be a little more difficult to pin point an exact cause for condensation damp and mould. Condensation, which leads to mould, is usually caused by poor ventilation in a room and this could be the result of tenants not opening windows, blocking air bricks, drying clothes inside, or not using extractor fans in bathrooms and kitchens.
However, landlords also need to ensure that the structure of the building has adequate ventilation and that the tenants are able to ventilate the property sufficiently. The cause of the problem may need some investigation, if simple ventilation is not sufficient to combat the mould problem.