On 07 September 2023 the government released a publication named ‘Understanding and addressing the health risks of damp and mould in the home’. The publication highlights the serious negative health implications which damp and mould can pose. Further it provides detail on the legal responsibilities placed on landlords to ensure that accommodation they provide is free from serious hazards and fit for habitation.
If tenants report damp or mould within their home, landlords must address the problem promptly.
Visit the property and identify the cause of the problem, if you cannot identify the problem, you can instruct a damp surveyor to create a report.
Once damp and mould have been identified, it is essential that the mould is removed promptly, reducing health risks for tenants.
Mould can be removed from hard surfaces with an appropriate cleaning product and should be left to dry completely. Mould and mildew products should be used in preference to bleach, for health and safety reasons. Absorbent materials such as carpets, soft furnishings and ceiling tiles may have to be thrown away if they become mouldy, as it may be difficult or impossible to remove the mould completely. While most tenants could reasonably be expected to remove condensation and very small amounts of mould using an appropriate mould and mildew cleaner, larger areas of mould should only be addressed by qualified professionals. When identifying an experienced contractor, landlords should check training, qualifications and references. Regardless of the extent of mould, the person removing the mould should wear protective equipment, such as a mask, gloves and goggles, in order to avoid contact with mould spores or cleaning products.
If the problem is structural or through faulty installation, you must make a repair as timely as possible. Keep the tenant informed of actions and time frames. If the following problems are present, you must make repairs; leaking internal pipes, not enough ventilation, broken boilers and heating systems, cracked or rotten window frames, leaking roofs/faulty guttering, faulty extractor fans, external and internal structural defects. Fix any damage caused by the damp e.g., redecorate/clean carpets etc. You should check in around 6 weeks after the repairs are made to ensure that the problem has been resolved.
If the problem is not structural and not through faulty insulation – it’s likely that condensation is causing the damp/mould. It happens when moisture in the air meets a cold surface, like a window or an external wall. Tenants can do the following to keep condensation to a minimum; open windows regularly, use pans lids when cooking, dry clothes outside or use a dryer, close internal doors when you cook or shower, use extractor fans in the kitchen and bathroom, leave a gap between furniture and external walls, wipe visible condensation from windowsills each morning. Condensation is worse in cold properties, fuel affordability could be a contributing factor – encourage tenants to keep in touch with Shelter, Citizens Advice and the Local Authority if they are struggling with the rising cost of living.
There is help for tenants depending on their situation. https://england.shelter.org.uk/housing_advice/benefits/help_with_gas_and_electric_bills
Here is a brilliant damp and mould video by Plymouth Energy Community – many of our members have sent the video to their tenants to increase awareness of condensation and mould in the home.
Article Abridged from Plymouth City Council, gov.uk and Shelter