Mould is an unsightly and occasionally health-concerning issue that affects both tenants and landlords up and down the country. Not only does it make a rental property unattractive to current or prospective tenants, but it can also be costly to fix.
As a result, it’s important for landlords to not only understand what their responsibilities are when it comes to damp and mould but to also ensure that all parties are doing everything they can to prevent it from occurring in the first place.
What is mould and how does it occur?
Mould is a fungus that can have a negative effect on both a person’s health and the property’s value and can grow on almost any surface in a property where there is an excess of moisture. This moisture can be the result of a number of factors, therefore it is imperative for landlords to be as knowledgeable on the subject as possible.
Rising damp is the result of water rising from below a building. The water enters a property through porous materials such as bricks and mortar and is often because the property’s damp course – a layer of waterproof material in the building’s wall near the floor – has failed. Penetrating damp is another common cause of mould. This occurs when a building has structural issues, such as leaking guttering, which allows water to seep through.
Quite possibly one of the biggest causes of damp and mould is condensation – a fact that many people, including both tenants and landlords, aren’t aware of. When a building isn’t properly ventilated, excess moisture can form in the air. This forms water droplets inside a property and can lead to condensation and surface mould.
Who is responsible for damp and mould?
There is a lot of debate around the topic of who is responsible for damp and mould in a rental property; is it the duty of the tenant or the landlord to treat the issue? A lot of the confusion stems from the fact that both parties aren’t always clear on the multiple causes of damp, and without liaising with an expert to decipher the mould’s origin, it’s a tricky problem to fix.
A new law, The Fitness for Human Habitation Act which was introduced in March 2019, now holds landlords accountable if a rental property does not meet certain standards. This means that it is now a landlord’s responsibility to fix problems such as damp caused by design defects, and if they don’t, the tenant will have the right to pursue legal action.
It is important to note that while some cases of damp and mould will be covered by landlord insurance, some will likely not. It is more than likely insurers will pay to get damp and mould issues fixed if they’re a result of water entering the property following an incident, such as a flood or damage to drains or pipes. However, if problems have been caused by condensation or lack of maintenance, it is unlikely that landlord insurance will cover the subsequent damage.
The best approach to ensuring your rental property is mould free is prevention and there are a few basic things a landlord should do in an attempt to control moisture in a building.
- Identify any possible problems and fix them as quickly as possible
- Fit extractor fans into kitchens and bathrooms
- Decorate properties with mould-resistant products such as anti-mildew paint
- Regularly clean and repair guttering
Tenants can also play their part in reducing the risk of condensation and mould by:
- Drying wet areas as soon as possible
- Opening windows frequently to allow ventilation – especially when cooking, having a shower, and washing up
- Improving airflow in the property – opening doors between rooms and position furniture slightly away from walls
- Cleaning damp rooms such as bathrooms with mould-killing products
How to remove mould and damp
If mould is already present in your rental property and appears to be on a small scale, it can be cleaned with detergent and water. The person doing the cleaning should wear gloves, protective goggles and a dust mask. A property should also be well ventilated after cleaning to ensure mould does not return.
If the mould is a larger issue or if it continues to return, the problem is best passed onto a professional.
If you need any advice, don’t hesitate to contact us at Chancellors, as we have approved contractors that would be able to assist with the problem.