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Mould can be a common issue in rental properties, especially as we head towards the winter months. Mould in properties is usually caused by damp conditions due to condensation or poor ventilation. It can be a major issue in flats, student properties, and HMOs (Houses with multiple occupants).

When water vapour in the air meets a cold surface, it becomes a liquid called condensation, and steam from hot water can cause a lot of condensation to form on walls if a room isn’t properly ventilated. This condensation then makes the walls damp, which in turn leads to mould.

A leaking pipe can also cause mould inside of a wall. If a room is very well ventilated and isn’t somewhere that a lot of water vapour would form (e.g. bathroom, kitchen, and wherever clothes are dried indoors,) it may be due to a pipe leaking. The mould will usually be quite a substantial issue by the time it is visible on the outside wall.

Why it’s an issue

Living with mould is bad for people’s health, especially people with allergies or existing respiratory problems. Dampness can cause materials to break down, releasing dust into the air, which can be irritable to the lungs, nose and throat, cause illnesses and aggravate asthma.

Mould can also increase the risk of infections and cause harmful bacteria and toxins to grow in your home.

Mould and damp can also cause damage to a property, including rotting timber window frames and growing on furniture.


What do tenants have to do?

If a property is in a fit state to combat mould – well ventilated with working extractor fans and able to let in enough natural light – and there aren’t any leaks or structural damage, any mould that arises is probably down to the tenant’s lifestyle and how they treat the property.

It’s important to know that mould thrives in damp, dark, warm places. Without these conditions, mould struggles to grow and won’t be an issue.

Therefore, tenants need to make sure that they keep their homes well ventilated and ensure moisture doesn’t build up in the air. This can be done by opening windows, especially when showering, cooking and drying clothes indoors. It’s also very important to remember to turn on extractor fans when needed as they help to reduce moisture from the air.

If there’s mould in your home, you should notify the landlord straight away and try to find out the source of the issue. If mould is left, it will worsen with time, so the quicker the problem is tackled, the easier it will be to get rid of it.

If it isn’t a severe case, cleaning it can remove the mould. However, it’s essential to get to the bottom of the cause, as without prevention, it will return. Mould-specific cleaning products can be purchased relatively cheaply, and remember to use gloves when cleaning them.


What do landlords have to do?

Before renting out a property, a landlord should ensure that it is mould-proof. A property has to have sufficient ventilation, and they must ensure that there are no structural issues such as leaks or rising damp which would cause mould.

If mould appears in your home and is due to a structural issue, the landlord is responsible for the repairs needed to put an end to it under the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985.

In summary, no matter the cause, mould is always a problem should you find it in your home and one which should be dealt with as soon as possible. If the cause of the mould is due to the property being in an unfit state, this is the landlord’s responsibility. However, if there are sufficient measures to avoid mould in place at the property which aren’t being used properly, this is the tenant’s responsibility and could result in deposit deductions.

Your duty as a landlord

As a landlord, it's both your legal responsibility and a duty of care to your tenants to make sure your property is free of dampness and mould.

To do this properly, you need an expert to diagnose the problem and then, ideally, secure a fix that also has a quality warranty. That means if there are any further problems - even if the company goes bust - the work is still covered.

Living with damp and mould isn’t only miserable, it also endangers a tenant's health. Even if it costs thousands to fix, it's worth it to make sure you are acting within the law. And because damp and mould can wipe thousands off a property's value, tackling the problem at the earliest stage will help ensure your investment isn't adversely affected.

If you have questions about tenancy agreements, Get in touch with our expert local agents now! 0207 482 1150 Visit Fortess Homes and book a free valuation.