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Who is liable for mould damage (tenant or landlord)?

Who should pay to repair cosmetic and structural damage from mould in your rented property?

lanlordman

The responsibility of mould damage is a common issue in rented accommodation across the UK and is a problem that can have many contributing factors. As a result, it can be hard to pin-point who is liable for mould treatment and future prevention. It can be a contentious subject to approach your landlord with, so what is the best way to go about finding a solution?

This article focuses on Condensation Related Mould as it is the main grey area in terms of who’s responsible. Find out where you and your landlords responsibilities lay and what you may be able to do to help alleviate the problem.

First things first, you need to find out the cause of the damp in your home.

Read our article on the causes of mould and work out what type of mould you have here: How to check where your damp and mould is coming from. The three main causes of mould growth are condensation related mould, rising damp and penetrating damp.

If you suspect that condensation may be the cause of mould in your home, you need to make sure your lifestyle isn’t contributing to the problem. It may be hard to prove your landlords liability if you are contributing to the problem yourself. Some common examples include; not venting steam when cooking and bathing, as well as drying wet clothes indoors where there is inadequate ventilation. You should be using an extractor fan in the kitchen and bathroom, and where possible, it helps to open a window too. Your property may also have ventilation in the form of airbricks for example, make sure any vent systems in walls,windows or extractors aren’t blocked up, the steam needs to escape. You can also wipe down windows and walls to prevent mould growth in problem areas. For more information read Top Tips to Prevent Condensation Related Mould.

What is condensation related mould? 

Condensation related mould occurs where there are high levels of water vapour in a building which can’t escape due to inefficient ventilation, insulation or heating. Water vapour cools and condenses on cold surfaces creating damp. This creates the ideal conditions for mould to grow. Condensation related mould can grow in any area of your home but is most likely to occur in rooms with higher levels of steam such as kitchens and bathrooms. It can also damage furniture and belongings.

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If you believe that your property has inadequate ventilation or that the installed ventilation measures are failing, check the details in your tenancy agreement for an express term. 

Keeping a copy of your tenancy agreement is very important! It means you can refer back to it to check in detail the agreement you have made with your landlord. If you don’t have one or need a new copy contact your landlord to request this. Once you have your tenancy agreement check to see if there is an express term in your tenancy agreement. An example of this would be the contract stating that your landlord is responsible for keeping your home ‘fit to live in’ and/or ‘in good condition’. There may be a breach of said contract if there is damp and/or mould growth. This could mean that your landlord is responsible for dealing with dampness.

If there are no express terms in your contract look for implied terms. 

If you can’t find an express term in your tenancy agreement check for an implied term as this could mean your landlord is still responsible. In most tenancy agreements there is a key implied term which states that the landlord is responsible for maintaining the property to an acceptable level of repair. This implied term means that damp and mould related to property ‘disrepair’ is likely to be the responsibility of the Landlord. An few examples of disrepair are:

  • The heating doesn’t work
  • There isn’t sufficient ventilation. This could be the windows don’t open or there is ineffective structural ventilation, such as blocked air bricks.
  • There may also be water vapour from other damp problems such as rising or penetrating damp.
  • Damage to things such as window frames and plasterwork caused by the presence of mould and damp is likely to fall under the landlords responsibility.

(A side note to keep in mind: your landlord is only responsible for repair after it has been brought to their attention.)

How do you approach the problem? 

Once you have determined whether or not you are the contributing to the damp and have checked your tenancy agreement the next step is to simply report the problem to your landlord. A good landlord will give you a timeframe in which they will be able to come an assess the issue. If no progress is made re-issue your request for support and ask for an update.

If the landlord has repeatedly made no effort to fix the problem what can you do?

Contact your local authority. If you are in a privately rented building, or part of a housing association, you can get in touch with your local authority’s Environmental Health department. If the mould in your building is harmful to your health or is considered a statutory nuisance, your local authority may be able to help apply pressure to your landlord. The dampness could be a risk to your health and safety and therefore a hazard under the Housing Health and Safety Rating System.

 

 

 

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