Damp and mould are arguably the most common issues seen in rental properties, with condensation being a main cause. There is a need, more than ever, for a solution to damp issues within rental properties.
As a landlord, it is essential to ensure your property has the correct ventilation; make sure your tenants know the correct way to look after the property. Ensure your tenants know that it is expected that they should use extractor fans in bathrooms and kitchens, open windows regularly to ventilate the property, wipe away condensation as soon as possible and heat the property properly.
A poorly ventilated property will result in excess moisture in the air that will settle on surfaces. If not wiped away, mildew will form. This has the potential to get serious, particularly as it spreads and attacks fabrics. Mould spores can lead to health complications if inhaled.
Is the landlord responsible for mould & damp?
Up until recently, mould and damp issues have been a grey area. Under their contract, tenants are responsible for maintaining the property, making it their duty to heat and ventilate the property correctly. However, landlords are responsible for ensuring the property remains free from hazard.
In September, the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities published the following guidance, putting responsibility more on the landlord:
“Damp and mould in the home are not the result of ‘lifestyle choices’, and it is the responsibility of landlords to identify and address the underlying causes of the problem”.
Landlords must treat the issue with the "utmost seriousness", acting immediately to protect their tenants health.
Early signs of damp and mould
Condensation can be a result of a mixture of issues such as high humidity, cold surfaces and lack of ventilation. Failure to wipe away condensation effectively can lead to mildew.
Bad Smells - If you are able to eliminate all other possible sources of a bad smell, the chances are that a stale, lingering smell may be an indicator of damp.
Flaking plaster & peeling wallpaper is an early sign that damp is in the walls.
Discolouration of the walls - Whether the mark is the damp itself, yellow or brown discolouration, this is a sure indicator of damp in the property.
External walls - External issues such as leaking gutters can be a cause & indicator of damp and mould in a property.
How to deal with damp and mould
Firstly, it is important to know how to identify damp and mould. On inspections, not only should you know what and where to be looking, this is a great opportunity to educate your tenants on how to look after your property as is their responsibility. This includes reminding them to heat the property regularly, open the windows to allow proper ventilation in the property and to wipe away any condensation when necessary.
Small patches can be dealt with with anti-fungal spray. Whilst the smell is unpleasant, they’re fairly easy to use. You can provide your tenant with a bottle which they can use as and when they need.
It may be a good idea to invest in some anti-mould paint though, particularly in rooms that collect moisture such as the bathroom. Whilst anti-mould spray is effective, it does not always prevent the mould from returning.
Top Tip: Damp and mould is commonly found on window sills, walls (particularly behind furniture), bathroom ceilings and in rooms where laundry is left to dry.
When should you get a damp specialist in?
If caught at the right time, mould and damp issues are easy to keep at bay by yourself however there may be times where it is necessary to get a specialist in:
Rising damp - Whilst only an issue in the ground floor of a property, rising damp is caused by moisture seeping in from the ground. Damp patches and “tide marks” are a tell-tale sign of rising damp. You need to consult a damp specialist as this is usually a result of an existing damp course failing or the property never having one.
Penetrating Damp - caused by water coming in from the outside or an internal leak. You can identify it by patches on the wall and ceiling. An experienced builder or roofing contractor will need to inspect the building.
At Elliot Leigh Guaranteed Rent, we make being a landlord hassle free. Our property management team will liaise with the tenant on behalf of you to sort issues, such as mould, and schedule specialists to attend if necessary. Inspections are a thing of the past for our landlords as our dedicated property inspectors visit the property every 8 - 12 weeks to ensure suitable upkeep and spot any underlying issues that the tenant may have missed. We also provide our tenants with guides to solve maintenance issues that can be done by the tenant themselves. Find out more benefits of our Guaranteed Rent Scheme here.