Condensation and Mould – the Landlord Curse

It’s that time of year again when Landlords, Letting Agents and Environmental Health Officers start receiving numerous telephone calls from tenants complaining about damp and mould problems in their properties.

How many calls have you received from tenants stating that their bedroom walls are damp and covered in mould and so are their clothes and shoes in the wardrobe?

As a Landlord it’s important you educate yourself  and established that the damp and mould isn’t  because of rising damp or penetrating damp, but due to condensation.

When temperatures drop in an occupied property, the air can no longer hold onto all the moisture that has been generated; it will migrate to the coldest parts of the house and condense onto the windows and walls.

If the humidity level in the property is at 80% or above for 6 hours or longer over a prolonged period of time, then mould can occur leading to the dispersion of mould spores and various other mould problems that are known triggers of asthma, dust allergies and hay fever. High internal relative humidity in a property is the result of poor ventilation.

It is often argued that tenant lifestyle is to blame, but the truth is, most of us create at least 4 pints of moisture per day just by breathing, cooking, bathing, washing and drying clothes, normal every-day activities that everyone performs at home.

You must remember that as Landlords you have a responsibility under the Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS) to assess hazards and risks within your rental properties. Local authorities are under a duty to take action against category 1 hazards. Hazards in Group A, are classed category 1 which include Damp and Mould Growth hence why you need to take seriously any complaints you receive from your tenants.

So how do you spot condensation?

  • Streaming windows and walls
  • Damp areas can appear on walls, especially behind furniture and in corners
  • Wallpaper can start to peel
  • Mould growth, usually black mould, starts to appear on window frames, walls and ceilings
  • Soft furnishings and fabrics become prone to mould  and mildew
  • There is a constant musty damp smell in the property

Tips for tenants on how to reduce it….

  • Try to keep the inside temperature reasonably constant for as much of the time as possible
  • Avoid drying clothes indoors.  If you have no choice place the clothes rack in a well ventilated room keeping the door shut
  • Do not dry clothes over radiators
  • Ensure that any tumble dryer is properly vented or the condensate reservoir regularly emptied
  • Do not supplement heating with paraffin/Calor gas type heating
  • Keep furniture away from walls
  • Do not disable any extraction units

As a responsible landlord, you can solve the problem for good by installing a Nuaire Drimaster or Flatmaster Unit (Positive Ventilation Unit) and a Nuaire Genie extractor fan in the bathrooms and kitchen (if needed).

How does the PIV work? By gently introducing fresh filtered air into the home at a continuous low rate, the relative humidity levels are reduced as the moisture-laden air is diluted, displaced and replaced.  Condensation cannot form and mould spores dry out to a powder which can be cleaned off. The visible condensation problems are gone for good and improving the indoor air quality reduces the invisible problems caused when relative humidity levels rise.

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