mould and damp in rented properties

A landlord’s responsibilities for damp and mould

admin Damp, Wet rot & dry rot

As a landlord, it’s your legal responsibility to make sure your property is free of damp and mould. A survey of 4,500 tenants on behalf of Shelter and British Gas found that almost half had lived in a property with damp, mould or both in the past year.

Here at Multiskill, we do see a lot of confusion about who’s responsible for mould and damp in a rented property. Some of the misunderstandings occur because tenants and landlords don’t realise there are many different causes of damp. Without calling in a professional to diagnose the problem, it’s hard to provide the right solution.

If the damp survey from a specialist contractor like Multiskill suggests the cause is rising or penetrating damp, this usually means it’s the landlord’s responsibility to solve the problem. This is because both of these are normally caused by issues with the property’s structure.

We often find that where disagreements occur between landlords and tenants, it’s when damp is caused by condensation, which is often a result of the tenant’s lifestyle and they way they treat the inside of the property.

In terms of the law, a landlord has ‘repairing obligations’ which are set out in Section 11 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985. The landlord is responsible for repairing and maintaining the structure and exterior of the property. The Housing Act 2004 makes it clear that ‘the structure and exterior of the property’ includes all outside walls, the roof, external doors and windows.

In March this year, the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 was updated by the Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act , making landlords more accountable for conditions in their homes.

Since this date, landlords have been obligated to make sure their properties meet certain standards at the start of and throughout a tenancy. For the first time this has included problems caused by defective design, like a lack of ventilation, rather than simply disrepair. If a property owner does not carry out necessary repairs or maintenance, the occupant can take them to court where an injunction can force the work to be carried out.

Treating damp is also a mandatory repair under the Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS).  And the HHSRS reminds landlords that they have an obligation to ensure mould doesn’t affect a tenant’s physical and mental health. Mould is a potentially dangerous fungus and is known to cause breathing difficulties and allergic reactions, particularly for those with asthma or existing allergies.

Living with damp and mould can endanger the health of your tenant and is in contravention of the law. With the right diagnosis and treatment from a specialist company like Multiskill, a damp problem won’t necessarily cost a fortune to put right. It’s also worth noting that damp and mould left untreated can wipe thousands of pounds off a property’s value, and so tackling any problems at an early stage will help make sure your investment isn’t adversely affected.

For more information on specialist damp treatments and to see if you qualify for a free damp survey, email Multiskill or call 0800 3280320.