Mould & Damp - Don’t Put It Off Until The End Of The Tenancy
Damp and mould can cause serious issues but resolving problems can be a contentious issue.
Landlords have been urged to discuss issues of damp and mould with their tenants before the end of tenancies by the Deposit Protection Service.
The service said it reduces the risk of a dispute if these issues are dealt with as soon as possible.
Matt Trevett, managing director at the DPS, said: “The circumstances that lead to damp or mould developing can vary: if the problem is structural, the onus may be on the landlord to find a solution but, if the issue is caused by tenant behaviour, the tenant may need to change their approach.
“We’d always encourage tenants and landlords to discuss how best to address damp, mould or any other issue in order to find a solution together rather than waiting until after renters move out.”
The DPS issued four key guidelines for landlords and tenants to follow regarding damp and mould.
1: Tenants should immediately report if the property has damp or mould
This will give a landlord the chance to remedy or improve the situation and improve renters’ comfort in the property
2: Dispassionately discuss the amount of damp and mould in the property
A very small amount of damp or mould in a room, while requiring some remedy, does not mean that tenants can claim to live rent free at a property
3: An information leaflet might not be appropriate
We have seen cases where landlords or agents who noticed evidence of damp during an inspection have simply handed the tenant a leaflet on ventilation, heating and avoiding condensation; without first checking the cause
4: Act if the issue is your responsibility
While some damp and mould problems can be solved by tenants’ adapting different behaviour, for example, improving ventilation to rooms with tumble driers, landlords should recognise when the issue needs their involvement to resolve, such as structural changes
So, who’s responsible for dealing with it?
Typically, landlords are responsible for rising damp and penetrating damp because these are caused by structural issues (such as inadequate damp proofing or damaged window frames). This obligation is clearly set out in Section 11 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 which states that it’s the landlord’s responsibility “…to keep in repair the structure and exterior of the dwelling-house (including drains, gutters and external pipes)”. Bear in mind that if you rent out commercial property, your responsibilities will depend on the type of lease you have.
On the other hand, it’s harder to allocate responsibility for damp caused by condensation. In some ways, this comes down to tenant lifestyle (drying clothes indoors or steam from cooking) but it can be argued that as a landlord, you should ensure suitable ventilation. For instance, fans in bathrooms, extractors in kitchens or dehumidifiers.
Either way, it’s in tenants and landlords interests that both parties work together to sort out damp issues as swiftly as possible rather than waste time allocating blame.