#AskTDS: My tenant has complained of a mould and damp problem, what do I do next?

#AskTDS: My tenant has complained of a mould and damp problem, what do I do next?

Mould and damp are repeat offenders in end-of-tenancy disputes.  If left untreated, mould can rot wooden window frames, stain your carpets, damage painted walls and cause peeling and cracks to walls and ceilings. As for living in a mouldy property, it can be the cause of several health conditions such as respiratory infections, allergies, and asthma. Therefore, if you’ve been alerted to a mould or damp problem, it is important to deal with it quickly before it becomes a bigger problem.  But, who is responsible? According to our TDS survey, the results showed that two-thirds of the landlords who responded had experienced mould in their property, and the majority of landlords agree that mould could be either the landlord’s or tenant’s responsibility depending on the circumstances. We take a look at what steps to take should mould become an issue in your property.

Establish the cause

In general, the common causes of mould in properties are:

  • Build-up of condensation
  • Steam created from cooking, boiling kettles, bathing and showering and unvented tumble dryers
  • Poor ventilation
  • Furniture too close to exterior walls
  • Drying clothes indoors
  • Leaking pipes and roofs
  • Clutter

Less likely, you may find rising damp is the cause, where water from the ground is entering the building and travelling up through pores in the brickwork, but this is a structural issue and would need to be dealt with by the landlord.

In our survey, the causes for mould varied, but the most common rooms that suffered were bathrooms and bedrooms.

  • A quarter of mould cases were caused by poor ventilation
  • Drying clothes indoors was responsible for 21% of mould cases
  • Showering without opening windows was the cause in 17% of mould cases

Treat the problem

To treat the causes of mould, click here for a helpful guide on prevention and removal. Fortunately, the results from our survey confirmed that landlords are on the case, with 8 out of 10 advising their tenants on how to avoid mould should it become an issue. Providing condensation advice too, is beneficial.  Having said that, 50% of landlords and agents said they did not check for mould at every inspection stage (check-in, mid tenancy and check-out), nor do they mention it in the tenancy agreement specifically. TDS recommends checking for mould throughout the tenancy to help avoid mould-related disputes. 

TDS would encourage all property professionals to include as much information as possible in tenancy agreements and to issue guidance so that tenants are aware of their responsibilities and steps that can be taken regarding mould.  If a claim is made for mould at the end of a tenancy, then a landlord should provide evidence, such as a third party specialist contractor’s report, to show the cause of the mould that has arisen.

If you’d like to learn more, please take a look at our case studies on the subject.

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