It is that time of year again when landlords and letting agents start receiving numerous telephone calls from tenants complaining about condensation and mould problems in their properties, which can become a contentious issue if it is not clear who is responsible for dealing with what is often become a common problem in rented homes as we head towards winter.
Condensation in residential property, caused by warm, moist air generated in areas like kitchens and bathrooms penetrating colder parts of the building, can vary in severity from a small patch of mould or discoloured wallpaper behind a cupboard in the corner of a room to serious amounts of mould growth across walls, inside wardrobes and on furnishings, carpets and in basements.
“Condensation can lead to mould, a serious problem for both landlords and tenants because of the health risks associated with mould spores,” said Jax Kneppers, founder and CEO of Imfuna.
“Mould growth that is caused by building defects in the rental property is clearly the landlord’s responsibility. It is sometimes caused by inadequacies in the building, but very often the main cause of mould growth is the lifestyle of the occupants – the tenants,” he added.
Kneppers says that landlords and agents need to be aware of the potential problems which excessive condensation and mould growth can cause and should take steps to minimise the risks, which is why you or your agent should make regular inspections of the property and check for condensation and mould.
Howard Lester, director of Balgores Property Group, commented: “It is vital that landlords keep the property properly maintained and advise tenants on how they can reduce the levels of condensation. This being said it is ultimately the responsibility of the tenant to ensure the property is well aired to avoid condensation occurring and causing damage.
“Mould fungi has been identified as the source of many health problems, including infections, asthma, allergies and sinusitis. Moulds produce allergens, irritants and, in some cases, toxins that may cause reactions in humans, as well as causing damage to the property.”
Imfuna has put together some advice that you may care to share with your tenants:
+ Dry all windows, windowsills, and any other surfaces that have become wet. Ensure you wring out the cloth thoroughly, do not dry on the radiator!
+ Try to keep the interior temperature of the property at a reasonably constant level.
+ If possible, always hang your washing outside. If this is not possible, hang it in the bathroom with the door closed and window slightly open for ventilation. Do not dry washing on radiators as this will add to moisture already in the air.
+ Ensure that all extractor fans are working efficiently. Noisy extractors will encourage tenants leave turned off. (If an extractor cannot hold a postcard to the vent when switched on it is not efficient enough).
+ If you use a tumble dryer, ensure it is well ventilated to the outside, or that it is the new condensing type.
+ Try to ventilate your kitchen when in use, either by opening a window slightly or using the extractor fan. Try to ventilate both kitchens and bathrooms for at least twenty minutes after use.
+ If your property is prone to condensation then daily use of a de-humidifier unit can be very beneficial. These come in all shapes and sizes, cost very little to run and draw out the excess moisture from the air, helping to keep the condensation under control.