Disputes in rented housing are not uncommon. However, where is the line drawn between damp and mould being the responsibility of either the landlords, property management companies, housing associations or the tenant themselves?
This has been a recent discussion after a 2-year-old boy living in a housing association flat had died from exposure to mould. This occurred after the family raised their concerns on multiple occasions.
Mould is a fungus caused by dampness and excessive moisture through poor ventilation and humidity. To find out more about what mould is and how to prevent it in the long run, check out another one of our blog posts here.
By discovering and acknowledging the cause of the problem and the responsibilities of both parties, can provide steps to take forward to prevent any further disagreements. Mould comes under ‘interior’ in the Landlord & Tenant Act 1985 and the Housing Act 2004 and the Occupiers’ Liability Act 1957 are in place to ensure homes are fit for human habitation.
Furthermore, the Housing Health and Safety Rating reports damp as crucial for repair due to the health and wellbeing problems it can cause to the tenants. It is also the responsibility of the property owner to adhere to COSHH guidelines under the Health & Safety Act. This is due to the fact that mould is considered to be so hazardous to human health.
Mould that is a cause of structural issues are the legal responsibility of the landlords, associations and property management companies. If not taken seriously, especially when reported by a tenant, can lead to you being reported to the council and you could even be taken to court.
If a tenant reports an issue, ensure you respond to them and investigate their complaints to determine who’s at fault. By ensuring the property is well ventilated and insulated, it can reduce the likelihood of mould forming around the property. However, it doesn’t reduce the likelihood there could be issues with the property’s structure causing the mould.
If the damp proof course or damp-proof membrane on flooring and walls is damaged in any way, it can create rising damp within the property, forming mould.
The effects of these failures are most common in houses, ground floor flats and basement flats. It is normally a failure that gradually develops over a longer period of time.
The system of damp proof on a property depends on the age of construction. Older constructions usually have a less effective system of damp proofing, therefore, more likely to be affected by rising damp.
Furthermore, if you as a landlord, housing association or property management company are unsure of the cause of damp, it is best to appoint a specialist in damp and mould removal.
Possible holes and gaps outside and inside the property can cause damp to enter the property.
These can occur from bad construction practices, insulation issues as well as the age of the property.
Here are some ways these can occur:
On the other hand, the cause of condensation can also be caused by the actions of the tenant. If these habits aren’t changed then it could be blamed on that tenant for causing the rise of damp through their voluntary behaviour.
In the colder month’s tenants probably don’t want to open windows, but also may not want to use the heating too much in order to keep down their energy bills down, but before you are to contact your landlord, make sure it is not your own actions causing the mould.
Ventilation throughout the property is essential to get rid of and reduce any condensation.
Ways to increase the property’s ventilation is by opening windows, using extractor fans, leaving gaps between furniture, ventilating cupboards and wardrobes, drying clothes outside or away from radiators.
Many of these actions can result in condensation, creating moisture and damp, which turns into mould.
Even by ventilating regularly, moisture and damp can still persist.
Some other ways of reducing moisture and damp are:
If you heat up one room while another room stays unheated, then the unheated room is likely to produce condensation. By using the heating regularly and all rooms in the property being a consistent temperature, condensation is less likely.
Furthermore, by letting natural light enter the property it does not allow mould to thrive in its favourite space, darkness.
For more ways to reduce mould and mildew in the long term, check out our previous blog post here.
In summary, both the tenant and the landlord have a responsibility to reduce mould within the property. Before tenants complain to their landlord or are uncertain about the cause of the mould appearing, it may be best to review your actions to see if this has any effect. If not, there may be a more significant issue with the property that is out of the tenant’s control that could fall under the responsibility of the housing association, property management company or the landlord.
Tackling mould or damp at the earliest stage possible is in the best interests of everyone concerned. As soon as mould or damp has been identified, it is crucial the correct diagnosis is obtained from a mould and damp specialist and whoever is responsible should carry out the appropriate treatment. At CPL t/a Rainbow International we are experts in dealing with all kinds of mould and damp issues. To find out how we can help you, give us a call freephone on 0800 030 4360.