As we move into the autumn and the temperatures start to cool, Landlords, Letting Agents, Social Landlords and Environmental Health Officers begin to see an increase in the number of telephone calls they get from tenants reporting damp and mould problems in their properties.
Landlords and other providers of rental accommodation have a responsibility under the Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS) to assess risks and hazards within rental properties. Local authorities have a duty to act against category one hazards which include Damp and Mould Growth. As a result, any complaints or reports of damp from tenants must be taken very seriously.
In most cases, damp and mould originates from condensation forming. When temperatures drop the air can no longer hold as much moisture and it will migrate to the coldest parts of the house where it condenses on windows and walls.
In circumstances where humidity levels remain at levels above 80% or above for 6 hours or longer over a prolonged period of time, mould can occur which in turn increases the dispersion of mould spores and the related triggers of asthma, dust allergies and hay fever. Often, high internal relative humidity in a property is due to poor ventilation.
Condensation is not just a problem in tenanted houses of course – on average people create at least 2 litres of moisture per day from bathing, breathing, cooking and washing clothes, but in a property with more people resident – such as an HMO or a student property which have higher occupancy, the amount of moisture created is higher. A house with eight people present will release more than one hundred litres of excess water into the air each week.
Without adequate ventilation in the form of extractor fans in wet rooms (particularly kitchens and bathrooms) condensation can quickly become a major problem.
Seeing the signs of condensation early is the key step to preventing future damp and mould. Things to look out for include:
While it is the responsibility of landlords to deal with damp and condensation problems, it is also incumbent on tenants to do their bit in preventing the problem in the first place.
Advising tenants to keep temperatures constant throughout the day and avoiding drying clothes indoors are key steps, as are ensuring the extractor fans are used when cooking or bathing – automated systems such as EnviroVent’s Cyclone 7 are useful in these circumstances, because they sense humidity and alter their power level accordingly, so moisture cannot build up in the air.
In addition to these tips, also advise tenants to avoid placing furniture against exterior walls – leave an air gap of about 5cm to prevent mould from being allowed to settle. Also, avoid using supplementary paraffin or gas heating indoors.
Installing whole house ventilation systems such as PIV during routine upgrades to housing stock provides a more permanent and effective way of avoiding future damp problems. The positive input ventilation system runs continually and draws fresh air into the home to replace damp or stale air. This means that the humidity levels stay constantly low, and condensation is eradicated.
While this requires an up-front investment in improving the property, it pays off in the long term through lower maintenance costs while also protecting the health of tenants.
If you are a landlord or other housing provider, please contact us today to arrange a free survey of your portfolio to identity any potential damp or condensation problems. Our local ventilation specialists can provide advice about the most appropriate solution to protect your tenants from the health risks of living in a mould filled environment, as well as helping to maintain the quality of your property portfolio.
One of our local experts will contact you to learn more about your problems, offer free expert advice and make recommendations for a permanent solution.
During the free survey we will:
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