So you told your landlord about the damp and mould in your house.  And they said that you weren’t…using the heating enough, opening the windows, using the extractor fans, you were drying washing on the radiators.  You fill in the blank.  Are they right? What can you do?

Damp and mould is often caused by condensation.  Condensation occurs when warm moist air hit something cold, causing moisture to condense out of the air –like the moisture on your beer or wine glass.  I talk about this more in this article:

We all breathe out about 5 litres of water a day and this can cause a damp and mould problem – but we shouldn’t stop breathing!  The house or flat should be designed to be able to handle our moisture.  We have to use the facilities in our homes to avoid the problem. 

If we don’t use the heating ever and don’t ventilate at all then we will probably have a problem with damp and mould.   That’s why landlords often blame tenants for condensation problems and tell us to use the heating more and open the windows more.  But even if you do you that you might still have a mould problem - because the house can’t cope with modern day living.

What can you do? 

  • First condensation damp and mould can be caused by leaks, heating problems or broken extractor fans.  These issues will be causing much more of a problem than anything you are doing.  Your landlord will have a duty to repair and fix these issues under the tenancy agreement.  Sorting out these problems will help to reduce mould problems – regardless of other issues.  If your landlords doesn’t fix them seek legal advice - call or email as below. 
  • Get the moisture out! Open the windows a little and make sure you use the extractor fans – especially in the bathroom and kitchen.  Also shut the door to the bathroom and kitchen when you’re done.  Then the fan will suck the moisture outside, and it won’t drift into your bedroom.
  • Keep warm!  If you don’t use the heating you will probably get mould.  So make sure you use it.  It’s best to have it on and controlled by the thermostat so that the temperature doesn’t wildly vary.  Having it on till your too hot, off till your too cold and on again will make condensation damp and mould worse, not better.  Far better to leave it on at a comfortable temperature, and probably cheaper too.  Your heating will use a lot of gas or electric to get a cold property hot, but not much to keep it warm. 
  • Drying washing is tricky – it will release about 5 litres of water per load into the property.  But what can you do – you have to dry your clothes!  I always advise to dry washing in the bathroom with the door shut and the radiator and fan on.  Then we get the moisture out.  Try not to dry your clothes on the radiators – especially the hall radiator.  First, you make the property colder because the heat from the radiator doesn’t get out.  Second you put lots more warm moist air into the property which will just spread round – instead of getting out.

But suppose you do use the heating, you do ventilate, use the extractor fans and don’t dry clothes on the radiators?  If so, the problem is the house or flat and it needs improving so it can cope with normal life. What are your rights and what can you do?

Your landlord will have a duty to get rid of significant damp and mould in your home.  It’s really important to remember that if you get rid of the mould then you get rid of the duty until it comes back.