Damp, Mould and Condensation in Rented Homes
Is your rental property under attack from outbreaks of black mould or condensation on windows? The latter is a particular problem for windows that aren’t double glazed and which haven’t been fitted particularly well.
What Causes Damp?
There are three main problems that can come under the ‘damp’ umbrella. These are condensation, rising damp and penetrating damp, all of which can cause costly damages to your rented home.
This is the most common of all damp problems. As warm air begins to build and then cool, it transforms into moisture appearing on cold surfaces. Your tenants will naturally release moisture into the air simply by breathing and sweating. Other everyday causes of condensation include cooking and showering.
Autumn and winter are the seasons when damp is most prevalent but ventilation really is the key. It’s also a huge challenge since, understandably, your renters will shut window and doors to keep warm and ensure their utility bills are low.
To prevent condensation, ask your renters to hang clothes in the back garden – if there is one – or install a tumble dryer (although admittedly, this will increase the cost of utility bills and it’s not particularly environmentally-friendly either).
You can also fit extractor fans and fit windows that are easy to open (then ask your tenants to do so, every now and again). Mould can be tackled by buying widely available kits.
This is usually found in older properties such as Victorian and Georgian tenement buildings where there has been no previous damp proof courses applied. What happens is the moisture rises up through the walls and stays there. It only reaches around a metre but it tends to contain salts and other substances you really don’t want on the brickwork.
To try and avoid rising damp always clear guttering (where water tends to accumulate and can easily seep in to the fabric of the building). A damp proofing course is another excellent remedy and, fortunately, these are already included in the majority of new, contemporary buildings around these days.
It’s worth noting that housing built pre-dating the 1950s might not have this important preventative feature. And even if one has been built in, it is definitely worth checking that it is in good working order.
Another simple but safe solution to prevent rising damp involves drilling into external walls above ground level before activating a low-level electrical charge via a connecting wire. Maintaining this electrical system has the effect of preventing dampness making its way up the wall.
To cure this form of damp, definitely don’t be tempted to implement cheap, short term solutions. Otherwise, be prepared to pay out for costly repairs at a later date.
Penetrating damp is where moisture builds up horizontally in the walls and is, quite simply, usually the result of poor maintenance on the landlord or letting agencies part. Blocked guttering can certainly cause it. So too can air gaps in windows and doors so fill in any gaps to solve the problem.
Check out the cavity walls. If working the damp from external walls should dry here before reaching the internal walls. If not, you need to fix them. It could be that a lot of rubbish has accumulated over time, preventing the cavity walls from doing what they are supposed to.
Who is responsible for Mould and Damp?
The landlord is responsible for issues with damp as nine time out of ten it will be related to the building rather than anything the tenants are doing.
To be on the safe side make sure you have vents and extractor fans in your kitchen and bathroom to get rid of moisture. Updating your heating system to a more contemporary version can also help.
Meanwhile, experts such as Property Care Association (PCA) qualified surveyors are available to carry out property inspections and answer any damp queries.
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