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Damp and mould in private rented homes

Advice on this page is for private tenants.

Read this instead if you have damp in a council or housing association home.

Deal with damp in your private rented home

Tell your landlord about damp and mould

You can use our letter template.

Keep a record of all conversations, emails and messages.

Government guidance says that landlords should take damp and mould seriously.

Let your landlord inspect your home

Your landlord must try to find out what's causing the problem.

You should give your landlord access to your home.

They can contact you to agree a suitable date and time to visit.

If your landlord cannot identify the cause of the problem, they should ask a damp surveyor. You do not have to pay for this.

How fast your landlord must act depends on:

  • how serious the problem is

  • if anyone who lives with you is vulnerable

Your landlord should get back to you urgently if your health is at risk.

Some landlords take steps to evict tenants who ask for repairs.

This is called revenge eviction. Sometimes you can stop this.

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Damp and mould your landlord must fix

Your landlord must fix problems that cause damp, such as a:

  • structural problem

  • faulty installation

Your landlord must also fix damp and mould if it makes your home unfit to live in.

Other things your landlord must fix include:

  • leaking internal pipes

  • not enough ventilation

  • broken boilers and heating systems

  • cracked walls or rotten window frames

  • leaking roofs, missing roof tiles or faulty guttering

Your landlord is also responsible for extractor fans they've installed.

Your landlord should check if damp and mould return at least 6 weeks after the repairs.

They should also fix any damage caused by the damp. For example, redecorate or replace damaged plaster or carpets.

Signs of problems with the structure

Damp patches on external walls can be a sign of penetrating damp.

Penetrating damp is when water gets into the property from outside. For example, through gaps and cracks in the brickwork.

Your landlord may have to replace the old mortar to fix the problem.

Improvements to deal with damp and mould

Improvements are different to repairs.

Landlords do not usually have to make improvements.

But your landlord may have to if repairs do not fix the problem.

For example, if damp makes your home unfit to live in, your landlord may have to insulate the walls or roof.

Video: Look for the causes of damp

Video transcript

If you have a damp problem in your rented home, look for the cause.

Penetrating damp can be caused by:

  • a leaky roof

  • faulty guttering

  • cracks in external walls

  • internal leaks

  • plumbing problems

Rising damp is when groundwater soaks up into the bricks or concrete of the building. It can affect basements and ground floor rooms.

Tell your landlord immediately if you spot penetrating or rising damp.

It will usually be their responsibility to fix the problem and make good any damage.

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

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Condensation problems

Condensation is the most common cause of mould.

It happens when moisture in the air meets a cold surface, like a window or an external wall.

Your landlord should not tell you:

  • to paint over mould that keeps coming back

  • that the problems are just condensation without checking

  • to stop doing everyday things such as cooking or showering

Steps you can take

It can help if you:

  • open windows regularly

  • cover pans when you cook

  • dry clothes outdoors or in a dryer

  • close internal doors when you cook or shower

  • use extractor fans in the kitchen and bathroom

  • leave a gap between furniture and external walls

  • wipe condensation from window sills each morning

You can use the UK Centre for Moisture in Buildings online tool to check what else you could do to keep moisture low in your home.

Condensation is often worse in cold properties.

You could get help with bills if you are struggling with rising energy costs.

If you keep getting condensation

Tell your landlord if you've taken these steps but still have damp and mould.

Your landlord should:

  • check why the property cannot cope with everyday living

  • fix the underlying problem, such as not enough insulation or ventilation

The government guidance has a ventilation checklist for landlords. You can show it to your landlord or agent.

Your landlord should not make unreasonable demands

They should not ban you from drying clothes indoors if your homes has no outside space. They could help with a solution. For example, getting a dryer or a dehumidifier.

Tell your landlord if you're worried about your energy bills.

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Ask environmental health for help

You can ask your council for an environmental health inspection if the problem is serious.

The council can order your landlord to fix damp and mould.

It could give you a defence against revenge eviction if environmental health take steps to force your landlord to deal with damp and mould.

But they are likely to give your landlord time to fix things without taking formal action first.

You should be able to find environmental health contact details on your council's website. 

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Complain about your letting agent

You can complain about your letting agent if they did something wrong, including:

  • ignored your complaints

  • told you to fix damp and mould yourself

  • refused to tell the landlord about the problem

Ask the agent for a copy of their complaints policy if you cannot find it online.

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Claiming compensation

You can do this if damp and mould have:

  • damaged your belongings

  • caused you health problems

  • made all or parts of your home unfit to live in

  • cost you money, for example because you have to run a dehumidifier all the time

You have to have evidence of the problems.

You usually have at least 3 years to start a claim, so you could wait until after you move out.

Find out more about legal action for disrepair and bad conditions.

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Moving out

You may feel that the problems are so serious that you cannot live in your home any more.

Do not move out unless you have somewhere permanent to live.

Your landlord could keep your deposit or start a money claim for rent if you do not end your tenancy correctly.

Find out how to end a:

If your landlord asks you to move out

Your landlord might tell you that you need to move out while the problem is fixed. Find out more about moving out temporarily.

If they want you to move out permanently, they must follow the correct legal process.

Ask the council for help before you move out

Very serious damp and mould could mean that you should get:

Ask the council for help before moving out. They might say you've made yourself homeless and refuse long term help if you move out first.

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Last updated: 2 October 2023

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