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What Will Stop Damp: Advice for Landlords

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What Will Stop Damp: Advice for Landlords

By Ruth MacEachern

Product Manager

Oct 30, 2023

Damp is a common problem that can affect many rented properties, especially in winter. It can cause damage to the property, health issues for the tenants, and even result in legal disputes between landlords and tenants. In this article, we will explain the causes of damp, the responsibilities of landlords and tenants, and how to prevent and treat damp effectively.

What causes damp?

There are three main types of damp that can affect properties, and each has its own cause.

Condensation damp: This is the most common type of damp. It occurs when warm, moist air meets a cold surface, like a window or a wall, and forms water droplets before soaking into the underlying material. Condensation is usually due to the moisture from bathing, heating, and cooking in a property and is made worse by insufficient ventilation in key areas.

Rising damp is due to moisture rising from the ground through the walls or floors. Normally, rising damp happens when due to problems with the damp-proof course or membrane: a barrier that prevents water from entering the property from the ground.

Penetrating damp is caused by water penetrating through the walls from the outside or from leaking pipes. Cracks or gaps in the walls and roofing, or holes in window frames can allow moisture to enter a property where it can soak into the plaster.

The various types of mould all have different causes, but they have similar effects.  The plaster of walls can start to crumble and need to be replaced, and mould can grow which will affect the health of residents.

Penetrating and rising damp will usually require remedial work to be carried out on the property by a builder and decorator, but as the causes of condensation damp are internal, it can be prevented.

The responsibilities of landlords and tenants?

According to the law, landlords have a responsibility to provide a safe and habitable property for their tenants. This means that they must deal with damp and mould problems that are caused by disrepair or make the property unfit to live in. It is the responsibility of landlords to resolve any problems with damp that could affect the health of their tenants.

In the UK, landlords have the following responsibilities for damp:

  • Make sure a correct diagnosis is obtained and carry out the treatment if it’s their responsibility.
  • Organise an inspection and carry out any repairs needed when tenants report a damp and mould problem.
  • Ensure the property is well ventilated, particularly in rooms with high levels of moisture.
  • Ensure the property has an adequate damp proof course.
  • Remedy any structural or exterior defects to the property.
  • Remedy any leaks or plumbing issues to prevent moisture.
  • Keep properties suitable for human habitation.
  • Respond to complaints about damp, mould, or condensation within a reasonable timeframe, and investigate and fix them if necessary.

As condensation damp is caused by moisture from within the property, tenants also have responsibilities and a role to play in preventing problems and not cause damage or disrepair. This means that they must:

  • Report any signs of damp, mould, or condensation to their landlord as soon as possible.
  • Allow their landlord access to inspect and repair the property.
  • Keep the property clean and tidy.
  • Reduce the moisture in the air by ventilating the property, using extractor fans, and wiping down windows and sills every morning.
  • Avoid drying clothes indoors or use a dehumidifier if they do.
  • Keep the property warm and avoid temperature fluctuations.

Preventing Condensation Damp

The best way to protect the property and the health of the tenants from the effects of condensation damp is to prevent it from occurring in the first place and improved ventilation is the most effective way of doing this.

Ventilation is the process of exchanging indoor air with outdoor air. It helps to reduce the humidity level and remove excess moisture from the property. There are steps tenants can take day to day to improve the airflow in the home including opening windows regularly, especially after showering, cooking, or drying clothes indoors; using extractor fans in rooms where damp is a problem, while property owners can invest in positive input ventilation systems that supply fresh filtered air into the property to displace humid air and stop condensation damp from forming.

Dealing with the effects of damp

It does not take long for damp patches to damage your property.  Saturated plaster will crumble away from walls and paint will start to bubble and leave patches.  Rooms affected by damp will usually need to be redecorated, and plasterwork may need to be replaced.

There are many different species of mould that can grow in a home.  Some of these, such as toxic black mould (Stachybotrys Chartarum) are extremely harmful to health as they release chemicals called mycotoxins that provoke a severe response.  If toxic black mould has been discovered, it will need to be cleaned by a specialist.

Other types of mould can be safely cleaned away using a fungicide or dilute bleach.  The liquid should be sprayed onto the affected area before being wiped away.  This will kill the surface mould, but unless the causes of the underlying growth are dealt with, it will soon return.

Find out more

If you are concerned about the risk of condensation damp in your rental property, we can help.  Arrange a quote from one of our local ventilation specialists.  They can provide a survey that will identify the causes of condensation damp and provide advice about the best way to protect your investment and your tenants’ health.

Need help with condensation, mould or damp problems?

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

  • check Assess any condensation, damp or mould problems in your property
  • check Take readings of the relative humidity levels
  • check Identify any underlying problems and make recommendations for a permanent solution

Arrange a FREE Home Survey now