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Condensation mould - tenant or landlord responsibility?

Date online: 17/12/2013

One of the most common issues that can arise for both tenants and landlords is the problem of condensation, which then turns to foul looking black mould , a problem which we have came across a lot during our time as letting agents in Rochdale.

However, the biggest hurdle seems to come with defining exactly who is responsible for getting rid of this eyesore, and whilst many may think there are shades of grey, it is a really simple and straight forward issue that doesn’t take too much head scratching.

As a tenant, it is your responsibility to look after your home. Whilst it may not be your own property that you own, it is still up to you to keep it in a good state of repair and as a rule of thumb, maintain it to at least the standard that it was at when you moved in. 

Ways in which you are expected to look after the home include: 

  • Keeping to a good standard of cleaning; this doesn’t mean you have to keep it spotless 24/7, but creating a reasonable benchmark and sticking to it ensures that the property won’t fall into disrepair. 
  • Not being reckless- look after the property as if it was your own and ensure that any guests do the same. Even if it isn’t you who causes the damage, you will still be responsible. 
  • Correct use of the heating system; don’t block flues or ventilation.

A landlord is expected to repair any problems that arise in the following areas:

  • Structure of the exterior of the building
  • Problems that arise with sanitary areas, i.e., the toilet, bath, sink etc. 
  • Boiler problems; they have a duty of care to ensure that you have hot water and heating
  • Gas problems
  • Electrical issues
  • Windows
  • External doors

Tenants tend to automatically presume that if a mould problem occurs, that the landlord is responsible, which isn’t necessarily correct. 

If the mould is occurring due to issues that fall under the landlord’s responsibility list, such as a structural problem that is causing the growth of the mould, then it is up to the landlord to rectify the fault.

However, the majority of mould problems in houses are down to poor ventilation, which ultimately falls at the feet of the people living in the property, i.e., the tenant. This is classed as reasonably maintaining the property.

If the property is correctly insulated with a good heating system that the landlord has fitted, then the tenant will need to take steps in order to reduce the condensation that builds up within the property. 

As a tenant, it is imperative that you keep your home well ventilated, as condensation comes from a lot of places, some of which include: 

  • Drying clothes on radiators
  • Cooking
  • Sleeping (through breathing)
  • Not using the heating properly
  • Showers and baths

Condensation occurs when the moisture in the air is no longer vapour and returns back to a liquid. It will then sit on walls, surfaces, windows and just about anything else it comes into contact with. 

Surfaces that are prone to absorb the liquid are more likely to become associated with mould and it can grow fast, causing problems for asthmatics and those with respiratory problems; in short, it’s not good and needs removing. 

Measures that can be taken to ensure that mould doesn’t become a problem for tenants are:

  • Sleeping with the window open. Many double glazed windows have a trickle lock, which will help the water vapour to escape and not stay in the property. 
  • Using ventilation fans that are in the bathroom are a great way of getting the moisture out of the room fast, avoiding mould build up.
  • Open windows when cooking- steam from boiling pans can cause condensation so opening the windows ensures that the steam escapes. An extractor fan if available is an ideal way of getting rid of vapour.
  • Dry clothes outside or in a tumble dryer when you can. When using a tumble dryer keep a window open in a room that the machine is in and ensure that any ventilation tubes have a clear route out of the room. If drying clothes on radiators is a necessity, keep windows open as much as possible as this is one of the easiest ways to create condensation.
  • Don’t put furniture up against walls- allow for the air in the room to circulate.
  • Don’t block up chimneys.
  • Ensure ventilation bricks are not blocked.

If you believe that the problem lies at the feet of the landlord, approaching them with the problem and having it checked out is the way to resolve the problem. 

The local council can also come and look at the problem impartially, giving the landlord a list of jobs that are their responsibility if necessary; however, usually just speaking to your landlord is enough to remedy any mould problems that you believe aren’t down to you.

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