Damp and mould: how to manage

Ocean lettings & management

Whose responsibility is it to deal with damp and mould?

This is a tricky question to answer because it depends on the type of mould and the reasons it appeared. The Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 states that the ‘structural and exterior of the dwelling-house’ as well as the ‘supply of water, gas & electricity’ and ‘heating and heating water’ need to be kept in working order. Issues with the structure such as rising damp, or water supply – leaks, would suggest it’s the Landlords responsibility.

However; mould is most commonly caused by excessive condensation, which could mean it’s simply due to not opening windows, as tenants you do have a responsibility to minimise adverse effects of excessive condensation. 

Let’s start at the beginning - What is Condensation? 

Warm air contains more moisture, when it comes into contact with air or surfaces at a lower temperature water is released to form condensation. 

Condensation is generally noticeable where it forms on non-absorbent surfaces such as windows or tiles, but it can form on any surface and it may not be noticed until mould forms. 

Building maintenance

Moisture can also be drawn from the structure of the building into the internal air. This will be the Landlords responsibly and no doubt prevention has already been considered. 

However, guttering and downpipes could become damaged or blocked causing an external wall to become soaking wet, or the surface finish to outside walls may have cracked resulting in rain penetration. 

If you do become aware of any issues that you think could be contributing to excessive condensation make sure you alert your Landlord or Managing Agent straight away.  

Condensation in property is mainly a winter problem

Particularly where warm moist air is generated in living areas and then penetrates to the colder parts of the building. Homes often remain unoccupied and unheated throughout the day, allowing the building to cool down. The moisture-producing activities are then concentrated into short periods (morning and evening) when the structure is relatively cold. 

Lifestyle considerations

Water vapour is produced in relatively large quantities from normal day to day activities, even just breathing, but in particular cooking and washing/drying clothes. Here are a few tips to help reduce excessive condensation.

• Use all of the radiators on a moderate heat, not just a few on maximum, reduce cold spots in the property and ensure it is pleasantly warm throughout.

• In modern homes, open the trickle vents at the top of double glazed windows.

• In older properties make sure the chimneys aren’t blocked.

• After a bath or shower, ventilate the room to the outside, not to the rest of the house – just opening the window and closing the door will help. If there isn’t a window then make sure the extractor fan in running, and close the door!

• Dry clothes outdoors if at all possible, or a cooler area of the property, it will take a little longer to dry but less condensation will occur.

• Whenever drying clothes, in whatever room, you must ventilate it, open the window a little. 

• On rainy days if at all possible, let wet coats and shoes dry in the hallway with the door closed.

• When cooking food and boiling the kettle etc. ensure that your kitchen door is kept closed.

• And ensure that you cover your pans with a lid to reduce moisture being created. 

• Also, make sure you are using an extractor hood or an extract fan if installed, these are designed to help reduce moisture created when cooking. Don’t turn it off as soon as you finish cooking, leave it on for 10-15 minutes to help to clear the humid air.

• Don’t overfill your wardrobes or kitchen cupboards. A lack of ventilation and air moisture trapped in warm overfilled cupboards can become a breeding ground for mould. You might notice a musty smell or clothes might have a damp feeling if the cupboard is overfilled.

• Make sure that your furniture is at least 50mm away from the surrounding walls so that air can circulate around the property. In bedrooms try to ensure that your wardrobes are placed against internal walls which will be less cold and less likely to cause damp and mould problems.

It is unlikely that your home can be completely condensation-free but it will be minimised by following these simple steps. 





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