Landlords have a responsibility to provide housing to their tenants that is healthy and free from mould. Mould presents a health risk to people of all ages, but most seriously for the young and old and those with underlying medical and respiratory conditions.
If mould is found in a rental property it is an essential repair under the Housing Health and Safety Rating system, and as such, in most cases, as a landlord, it is important to deal with any problems as soon as possible.
Mould can affect residents in multiple ways depending on the specific type of mould that is present in the property. The effects of mould can range from mild to severe if a person has a compromised immune system or an underlying respiratory problem such as asthma.
The most common reactions to mould are caused if a person inhales or ingests mould spores. Mould spores can be an irritant in the airways and on other mucus membranes such as the eyes and mouth. Allergic reactions to mould are common and include itchy eyes, sneezing, and skin rashes. Higher concentrations of mould spores in the air can trigger tightness in the airways and lead to symptoms including asthma attacks.
Long term exposure to mould can result in chronic illness including allergic bronchopulmonary aspergillosis and hypersensitivity pneumonitis which will both require medical treatment.
Some types of mould are more dangerous to residents. Toxic Black Mould (Stachybotrys Chartarum) releases mycotoxins that can cause neurological problems including depression, fatigue, loss of function and tremors.
In some cases, where residents have additional medical complications, the presence of mould can lead to very serious health issues that require hospitalisation.
Mould spores are microscopic and carried by the air around a home. Unless the conditions are right for the mould to grow, these spores will remain inert. However, in damp environments or areas with poor airflow, the mould can settle onto a surface where there is moisture at which point the mould starts to grow very quickly.
Humidity in the air provides a substantial amount of moisture, and in areas where condensation forms it can quickly develop into a damp patch where mould can grow.
The amount of water vapour that the air can hold is dependent on the temperature of the air. As air cools, condensation forms on cool surfaces where it can soak through paint to create damp patches where mould can grow.
In most cases, the wettest rooms of a home (bathrooms and kitchens) are where you will find the largest amounts of damp and mould, however If residents of a property do not heat all rooms, damp patches may form away from these wet rooms. Similarly, if large items of furniture such as wardrobes are positioned too close to an external wall, poor airflow behind the furniture may cause mould to form in large colonies.
Surface mould can be cleaned from walls using a fungicide or diluted bleach. This should be sprayed onto the affected area and then after leaving it to stand for a few minutes to kill the mould, it can be wiped away.
When cleaning mould, it is important to protect nearby areas and carpets from any drips and wear protective clothing and a face mask to avoid inhaling mould during the cleaning process. Cloths should be disposed of after use to prevent the transfer of mould from one area to another in the property.
If the mould is covering larger areas of more than 1 square metre, or there is a risk of the presence of toxic black mould, the mould should be professionally cleaned.
Cleaning surface mould will not prevent re-growth. Most of the mould is below the surface of a wall or inside the plaster. As such it may be necessary to replace plasterwork and redecorate a room as part of the clean-up process.
To permanently stop condensation from causing mould in a property, it is necessary to lower humidity. Residents can play their part by taking simple steps to reduce the amount of water vapour that escapes into the air:
The ventilation in a property plays a vital role in reducing humidity. Ensuring that the extractor fans in kitchens and bathrooms are working correctly and not blocked can help to reduce the amount of water vapour that is trapped in the property.
If condensation and damp are a problem in other rooms, it may be advisable to install a whole house ventilation system such as EnviroVent ATMOS. This features a centrally mounted unit in the loft which draws fresh air in from outdoors to displace the moisture laden internal air. PIV systems are highly efficient and run continuously to prevent condensation permanently.
Contact us today to book a survey of your property. Our local specialist can visit the home to identify the causes of condensation and provide you with advice about the best possible solution. Enter your postcode below to find an expert near you.
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