As we head towards winter, condensation and mould caused in residential property can become a bone of contention between landlords & tenants.
In the UK, condensation and mould are a common problem. Rental properties are particularly vulnerable, as many of them are older properties with inadequate heating and ventilation. The problem can vary in severity from a small patch of mould or discoloured wallpaper behind a cupboard in the corner of a room to serious amounts of mould growth across walls, inside wardrobes and on furnishings, carpets and in basements.
Condensation in residential property is caused by warm, moist air generated in areas like kitchens and bathrooms penetrating colder parts of the building. When the air becomes cold, it is unable to hold the extra moisture produced by everyday activities, so some of this moisture appears as small droplets of water – most noticeable on windows or on places where there is little movement of air. If not properly dealt with, this extra ‘dampness’ can lead to mould growth on walls, furniture, window frames and even on clothes.
Condensation can lead to mould, a serious problem for both landlords and tenants because of the health risks associated with mould spores. Mould growth caused by building defects in the rental property are clearly the landlord’s responsibility. It is sometimes caused by inadequacies in the building, but very often the main cause of mould growth is the lifestyle of the occupants – the tenants.
The average tenant will produce condensation through cooking, washing, internal drying, etc. Landlords and agents need to be aware of the potential problems which excessive condensation and mould growth can cause and should take steps to minimise the risks.
We’ve put together some advice that landlords & agents should give tenants to try and keep condensation to a minimum:
- Dry all windows, windowsills, and any other surfaces that have become wet. Ensure you wring out the cloth thoroughly, do not dry on the radiator!
- Try to keep the interior temperature of the property at a reasonably constant level
- If possible, always hang your washing outside. If this is not possible, hang it in the bathroom with the door closed and window slightly open for ventilation. Do not dry washing on radiators as this will add to moisture already in the air.
- Ensure that all extractor fans are working efficiently. Noisy extractors will encourage tenants leave turned off. (If an extractor cannot hold a postcard to the vent when switched on it is not efficient enough.)
- If you use a tumble dryer, ensure it is well ventilated to the outside, or that it is the new condensing type.
- Try to ventilate your kitchen when in use, either by opening a window slightly or using the extractor fan. Try to ventilate both kitchens and bathrooms for at least twenty minutes after use.
- If your property is prone to condensation then daily use of a de-humidifier unit can be very beneficial. These come in all shapes and sizes, cost very little to run and draw out the excess moisture from the air, helping to keep the condensation under control.