Damp and mould in rented homes

Find out when your landlord should deal with damp and what to do if they don’t.

What you can do about damp and mould in your home

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 properly ventilate and heat your home so that damp doesn't build up. This is sometimes called 'acting in a tenant like manner'.

Your landlord shouldn’t 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 cooking or showering
  • 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 more from the Money Advice Service about saving money on heating.

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

When moisture beneath a building is soaked up into the bricks or concrete it 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

If they don't respond to your first few messages you should persist in contacting them.

Some private landlords would rather evict their tenants than carry out repairs. Find out if you're protected from revenge eviction in this situation.

What your landlord should do

Your landlord must organise an inspection and carry out any repairs they are responsible for within a reasonable time.

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 doesn't have to provide alternative accommodation during repairs.

You might be able to claim compensation for disruption or damage to your things if repairs are not completed within a reasonable time.

Improvements 

If the damp isn't caused by an underlying repair issue, your landlord should still consider improvements to the heating, insulation or ventilation.

In many cases, your landlord won't have to improve the property but in some cases they must improve your home.

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

If your tenancy started on or after 20 March 2019, your landlord must make sure your home is fit to live in from the start of your tenancy until you leave.

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

If your tenancy started before this date, the council could still classify the mould as a hazard and instruct your landlord to deal with the issue.

If your landlord won’t do the repairs

Find out your next steps if your:

Continue to pay rent but you may be able to negotiate a rent reduction.  

If you want to move out

You need to end your tenancy properly if you decide to move out. If you don't, you could still have to pay 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 have stronger rights in your home than if you rent privately.


Last updated 05 Aug 2018 | © Shelter

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