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Damp and mould

Damp is a common problem which many tenants experience when renting accommodation. It's not always easy to work out if your landlord is responsible for resolving problems with damp. This is because it can be difficult to find the exact cause of damp without the help of a surveyor, unless, it's obvious, such as a leaking roof.

Check what kind of damp you have.

Rising damp

Rising damp is more common in older properties. It generally affects the lower part of the ground floor of a property up to the height of about 1 metre. So, if you live above the ground floor in a block of flats and have damp, it won't be rising damp.

If there's a problem with an existing damp-proof course (DPC) in your home which is causing damp, then your landlord is likely to be responsible for repairing it and you should report the problem to your landlord as soon as possible. If you have breached the DPC for example by piling soil up the wall, then you will be responsible for removing the soil to below the DPC.

Penetrating damp

Penetrating damp can be caused by several repair problems, for example:

  • a leaking roof
  • a cracked wall
  • leaking guttering or external pipes
  • a leaking water or drainage pipe
  • a leaking toilet or bath
  • rotten windows or doors.

In many cases where the damp is caused by problems such as those listed above, the landlord is responsible for repairing the problem and you should report the problem to your landlord as soon as possible.

If the leak is due to something you have done to the property or a leak from your own washing machine or other appliance you will be responsible for making sure the leak is fixed and that no damage is caused to your landlord’s property.

Construction damp

Construction damp is caused by a problem with a property's design. For example, a design defect in a property causes the basement to become damp when the level in the water table rises or there is a cold bridge caused by the construction material.

In cases of construction damp, if the design problem doesn't affect the structure or exterior of your home or cause any damage to the building, then your landlord may not have a responsibility under the tenancy agreement to prevent the damp.

However, your landlord is responsible for repairs if a design problem causes damage to the building, for example to a wall or ceiling plaster and you should report the problem to your landlord as soon as possible.

Condensation damp

Condensation damp can occur anywhere on a wall or a ceiling. It may form at the base of wall, or from top to bottom. It can result in mould growth, damage to furniture and belongings and in some cases mite infestation.

Your landlord will probably be responsible for dealing with damp if the damp was caused by your landlord not making certain repairs to your home - for example, not fixing the heating or ventilation. You should report the problem to your landlord as soon as possible.

Avoiding condensation

Sometimes condensation is caused because of the way the property is lived in. The following things may help reduce condensation:

  • produce less water vapour
  • reduce the amount of moisture by covering simmering pans and do not leave kettles boiling
  • dry wet clothes outside, in an externally vented tumble drier or in the bathroom with the door closed and the window open or fan on
  • avoid paraffin and portable flueless bottled-gas heaters as they put a lot of moisture into the air
  • ventilate to remove the moisture
  • use extractor fans in kitchens and bathrooms
  • close internal doors when cooking or showering
  • leave a gap between furniture and external walls
  • dry clothes outdoors or use a vented tumble dryer
  • ventilate rooms using trickle ventilators or keeping windows ajar when a room is in use
  • insulate and draftproof
  • insulate lofts, cavity walls and draught-proof windows and outside doors
  • heat your home a little more and keep low background heating on all day in cold weather
  • install suitable thermostatically controlled heaters to control heating and costs

Please see our Keeping warm at home page.