Ask any landlord or letting agent what their major causes of tenant complaints are during the winter time and one answer will always dominate – mould.
It is no surprise that mould growth is listed as a Category 1 hazard under the Housing Health and Safety Rating system (HHSRS). In 2009, the World Health Organisation (WHO) produced a report on indoor air quality. The report highlighted that poor indoor air quality poses a risk to human health. This is particularly increased where tenants spend a large proportion of their time within their home, such as the elderly or disabled.
The majority of tenants’ homes now have some form of kitchen or bathroom extractor fan. However, a problem often occurs when these basic systems of extraction become blocked, or in some cases, they are disconnected or switched off by the tenant.
In addition, the installation of energy-efficient measures such as loft and cavity wall insulation, double glazing and draught-proofing are helping to make homes warmer and more airtight, however a provision must be made to provide adequate ventilation to allow the property to breathe.
According to a recent report by MEARU, 87 per cent of households dry their wet clothes indoors and from just one load of washing, two litres of moisture will be emitted into the air. It is difficult to change the lifestyle choices of tenants, but it is possible to reduce the effects of these choices by providing sufficient ventilation into a property.
We cannot ask tenants to stop breathing (the average family creates 112 pints of moisture a week) but we can educate them on how to reduce condensation in their rented properties by drying clothes outside, putting lids on kitchen pans and ensuring extract fans are kept on when taking a shower.
For the past 20 years, Positive Input Ventilation which is commonly known as PIV has been growing in popularity with landlords and home-owners. A PIV system works by drawing in fresh, filtered, clean air from outside the building and gently ventilates the home from a central position usually in the loft, above a landing in a house, or a central hallway in a flat or bungalow.
They work by diluting moisture laden air, displacing it and replacing it to control humidity levels between 45% and 60%. By controlling the humidity levels and reducing the moisture the condensation problems in your property are reduced, thus the mould is unable to grow.
Many landlords are therefore recognising the benefits of retrofitting PIV systems into homes that are most at risk of issues with condensation and mould. Fit and forget systems like PIV are helping to improve the indoor air quality for tenants across the country, whilst reducing the risk of mould and damage to the fabric of a building.
As a landlord, this form of ventilation gives you more control, so indoor air quality is not dependent on the lifestyle choices of tenants. Investing in this technology can help to ensure a healthier home and reduce your decorating and maintenance costs.