Damp and mould in rented homes

Shelter adviser Jayne explains how to spot damp problems that your landlord should fix. [Video length: 00:33]

When your landlord should take action

Your landlord should fix your damp or mould issue if it's either:

  • caused by a repair problem

  • affecting your health and safety

Your responsibilities

You are expected to ventilate and heat your home properly so that damp doesn't build up.

Your landlord should not make unreasonable demands. For example, asking you to dry your clothes outside when you don’t have access to an outdoor space.

Ventilation and controlling moisture

Everyday activities like cooking, showering and drying clothes create moisture in your home which can lead to condensation.

It can help if you:

  • cover pans when cooking

  • use extractor fans in kitchens and bathrooms

  • close internal doors when you cook or shower

  • leave a gap between furniture and external walls

  • dry clothes outdoors or use a vented tumble dryer

  • open bedroom windows for 5-10 minutes when you get up

Heating your home

Try to keep your home properly heated. It usually helps to have a low background temperature of at least 15 degrees in all rooms.

Find out how to save money on gas and electric bills from Money Helper.

What’s causing the damp and mould?

Mould is caused by damp conditions. Sometimes it's easy to spot the cause of damp. 

Your landlord might need a damp expert if they don't know what's causing the problem.

A damp expert can help identify the cause and recommend how to fix it. 

If your landlord won't use a damp expert and the problem is unresolved, it may be worth paying for a report yourself.

Condensation

Condensation is the most common form of damp in rented properties.

It appears when excess moisture in the air comes into contact with a cold surface, such as a window or a cold wall. It can lead to mould growth and tends to be worse in winter.

It can be caused by a tenant not ventilating or heating their home properly. 

It can also be caused by poor insulation, or faulty heating and ventilation systems that are the responsibility of the landlord. 

Penetrating damp

Penetrating damp is caused by water coming through external walls or the roof. It can also happen when there is an internal leak or plumbing problem.

Because penetrating damp is caused by repair issues it is your landlord’s responsibility to deal with it.

Rising damp

Groundwater soaking up into the bricks or concrete is known as rising damp.

Rising damp is hard to deal with. Some buildings, for example older properties, are more vulnerable to rising damp. Sometimes it can be caused by a repair issue.

If it's a repair issue such as a broken damp proof course your landlord should fix it.

If it's a problem with the building itself your landlord may be instructed to carry out works if the council thinks the damp is a hazard. 

Report the problem to your landlord

Tell your landlord about the damp problem and any:

  • repairs needed

  • impact on your health

  • damage to furniture and belongings

What to do if your private landlord won't deal with repairs or bad conditions.

Complain to the council if a private landlord does not respond to your messages.

Some private landlords take steps to evict tenants who report damp problems or repairs.

Find out if you're protected from this type of revenge eviction

What your landlord should do

Your landlord must:

Repairs

Common examples of problems your landlord must fix include:

  • leaking internal pipes

  • broken heating systems

  • missing roof tiles or faulty guttering

  • cracked walls or rotten window frames

Your landlord should also replace any damaged plaster, skirting boards or flooring and redecorate if needed once the problem is fixed.

Your landlord does not have to provide alternative accommodation during repairs.

You can sometimes claim compensation through a court if repairs are not completed.

Improvements 

Your landlord may have to carry out improvements if repairs don't fix an underlying problem.

For example, if rising damp is an ongoing problem that needs repeated repairs, they may have to install a damp proof course.

If the damp is not caused by a repair issue, your landlord should still consider improvements to the heating, insulation or ventilation.

What they should do depends on how bad the problem is. 

Some landlords provide dehumidifiers rather than make expensive improvements. 

Make sure your home is fit to live in

Your home must be fit to live in from the start of your tenancy until you leave.

A home could be unfit if the mould is so bad that you cannot use some rooms or it's seriously affecting your health.

The council could order your landlord to deal with the mould as a health hazard - even if your tenancy isn't covered by the rules on unfit homes.

Your landlord must carry out and pay for improvements if the council give them an improvement notice because there's a risk to your health.

If you want to move out

You need to end your tenancy properly if you decide to move out. Or you could still be responsible for rent after you leave

If you're a private assured shorthold tenant, find out how to end a:

It's rarely a good idea to end your tenancy if you're a council or housing association tenant.

You usually have strong rights in your home.

How to complain if your council or housing association landlord does not fix a problem


Last updated: 11 January 2022

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