Landlords who ignore tenant complaints about damp and mould, could face hefty fines of up to £5,000, according to landlord insurance provider Letrisks.
Condensation and mould in residential property is mainly a winter problem in the UK, particularly where warm moist air is generated in areas like kitchens and bathrooms and then penetrates to colder parts of the building.
When this air cools, some of the moisture appears as small droplets of water, most noticeable on windows, or where there is little movement of air. If not dealt with, the damp can lead to mould growth on walls or tenants’ possessions. Problems associated with damp and mould are exacerbated by poor building maintenance and lack of ventilation.
Mould spores can also be a health risk and cause problems such as infections, asthma, allergies and sinusitis. Moulds produce allergens, irritants, and in some cases, toxins that may cause reactions in humans.
Michael Portman, managing director of Letrisks, points to a recent case involving Lambeth Council.
“A Lambeth Council tenant moved into her flat during 2009 and at that time it was damp and mouldy. She told the council, but they denied responsibility and said it was condensation. A year later the damp and mould was considerably worse, so the tenant sued the council. The condensation was in fact a leak through the bathroom ceiling from the flat above, also owned and managed by Lambeth. In 2012, the tenant was paid compensation and repairs were carried out.
“Unfortunately, by this stage, the tenant’s five-year-old son had developed asthma. A personal injury claim was started on his behalf, which is still ongoing. The damp problem continued and the council was fined £1,335 which shows how seriously the court viewed the offence.”
Letrisks says that the best way to ensure the control of mould in buildings is to carry out good building maintenance and check there is adequate ventilation.
Landlords and/or agents should check for leaks that may be causing damp, inside and outside the property. Bathrooms and kitchens should also be well ventilated by installing extractor fans and ensuring that there windows that can be easily opened.