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Tenants can sue landlords for damp homes under new laws

Tenants now have the right to sue their landlords for cold or damp homes under new laws that have come into force today.

If a landlord does not carry out necessary repairs or maintenance, the tenant will be able to take them to court where a judge can issue an injunction forcing the work to be carried out, under the government’s new Homes (Fitness for Human Habitations) Act 2018.

With changes applicable in England only, landlords must ensure their properties meet the law’s habitable standards. Failure to do so means they may face the possibility of being taken to court by their own renters.


Around 5.8 million renters in the UK experience damp and condensation issues, and 2 million believe they have developed an illness as a result of their living conditions, according to new research by Rentokil Property Care.

The study found that despite one third of tenants - 33% - contacting their landlord to help them rectify these issues, in more than half - 51% - of those cases, no help was given.

The investigation revealed that while many landlords do assist occupants, it takes an average of 84 days to rectify the problem.

Rentokil Property Care says that less than one in five - 17% - of tenants in England are aware that they can force through changes to their homes and ensure they are fit for habitation via the Homes Act from today.

The study of renters found that 44% of rented properties had no extractor fan in the bathroom, and a further 31% said the bathroom had no window either. It is these sorts of issues that can have a direct impact on the growth of mould and proliferation of damp.

But tenants must take responsibility for their living environment, according to Nicholas Donnithorne, UK technical manager at Rentokil Property Care.

He said: “An average family of four can produce up to 24 pints [14 litres] of water vapour in just 24 hours, and all that moisture has to go somewhere. When the air cools, condensation forms on cold surfaces at what is known as the ‘Dew Point’.”

The research by Rentokil Property Care revealed that 20% of UK renters do not use the trickle vents in their double glazing, and over one third - 36% - of tenants admitted to wearing more clothes instead of turning the central heating on, so that they save money.

Letting fresh air in and heating a property properly is crucial when thinking about the prevention of mould growth on cold wall surfaces and stopping damp from becoming a problem.  

Drying clothes in unsuitable areas may also be impacting the experience renters have with condensation, damp and mould. Results have indicated that around 30% of tenants regularly dry their clothes on radiators, with 11% admitting they do this all the time.

Some 12% of renters also dry their clothes in the bathroom, an area where a lot of moisture already exists. If ventilation is not present, the water vapour released from the drying clothes can condense on cold surfaces and lead to mould growth.

Donnithorne added: “It’s important the homes people live in have adequate ventilation and heating facilities that enable the occupiers to take control of the amount of moisture they produce. Occupants must also better understand that their behaviour may be affecting the formation of condensation and damp.

“Simple lifestyle changes such as drying clothes outside or leaving the window ajar could go a long way in helping to reduce issues and prevent mould growth.”

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    Mop up after baths or showers. Don't dry clothes inside and keep properties well heated and ventilated - hey presto - no damp or mould!

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    Simple rules, the odd thing is I have never ever had damp or mould in my house I live in or any of the previous 20 properties I have lived in But some how a tenant gets the damp and mould,, on my 3 monthly Inspections( council never ever carry out regular inspections) I find a window open in the bathroom. If I turn up unexpected the window is closed!? Strange odd and weird that! Keep windows open dont put cloths over radiators, keep extractor turn on in bathrooms and kitchens. In this I stance always but always deduct from Deposit on Move Out to sort out Mould and damp issues because its Always the tenants fault.

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    Have you noticed when you go to a private home like one of your friends or family - 90% no mould. It always seems to be a rented house that has the problem. That is because mould is fussy where it lives & seems to be spiteful in choosing the houses it lives in.
    The environment has to be right for mould to form and breed. Mould seems to favour dss at home all day with children.
    It’s grossly unfair and I’ve never been able to find out why this happens

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    It's a science, only the council and antisocial tenants know why Damp and Mould is selective, they wont share it, strange people.


    Absolutely, and the council and housing associations are not subject to the same rules as private landlords.
    The worst offenders where we are based is the local housing association and the Rent Smart Wales regulations don't apply to them.

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    I have a detached house built around 1880 solid brick walls, i used to let it to art students, every winter were they moaning about damp, for the last 5 yrs it has been let to a lady in her 50s, rough around the edges, and certainly the sort of lady you would want to argue with, now when ever i walk or drive past in the day time, which i do regularly' the upstairs windows are open, guess what ? NO DAMP OR MOLD ISSUES FOR THE PAST 5 YRS !

  • Bill Wood

    I had a gentleman in one of my 3 bed semis. I had to evict him through rent arrears, and when I went in to the house, one of the bedrooms had window frames covered in mould.
    I am not the squeamish type, I love unblocking drains, but I couldn't stay in the room more than a few minutes. I employed a professional cleaner, and two days hard work and she cleaned it up.
    The existing tenants have been there for 8 years now, have two children, and the place is lovely, a delight to visit, and of couse no mould at all!

  • PossessionFriendUK PossessionFriend

    Proving mould is the Tenants Fault is going to be difficult, to say the least, as all have testified to above.
    Put basically, there are 2 million potential cases for this new labour sponsored, legal-Aid solicitor drafted, Pro-tenant piece of legislation ( that if Local Authorities were held to account by the MHCLG, there wouldn't be a need for the legislation )
    Cheaper for Govt to outsource the responsibility from Local Govt, onto the Civil law, - where ' judges will decide if a property is unfit for habitation.'

    I ask Landlords with experience of court Possession procedures, if they're reassured by leaving this to a judges decision - given the way Landlords are treated. ?

    What's going to motivate Tenants to seek Ambulance-chasing Solicitors, is when they receive Possession proceedings Notices Sec 21, whilst we still have it, or Sec 8.
    Then, the legislation will become a 'Super-Disrepair' claim and will be known as the tenants equivalent to Retaliatory eviction -
    Retaliatory DEFENCE ( at Tax-payers expense )

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    Damp mainly happens when landlords are slow to act on leaks and make cheap repairs or rent old properties that are unfit to live in.
    This law was needed because there are more bad than good landlords out there...
    A reputable damp specialist can tell you when damp is occurring because of human behaviour or underlying issues with the property.

    • 09 October 2020 02:30 AM

    Absolute rubbish you talk.
    Most LL are good LL.

    About 2% are bad.

    It is the fault of tenants who refuse to live properly in a property.

    In short they fail to heat; ventilate and reside in the property properly.

    It is tenants that cause the majority of property problems.

    So your contentions are completely incorrect.


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