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Condensation and damp – a landlord’s problem?

From Robert Ulph on January 22, 2015

Landlords are often blamed by tenants when their rented property becomes damp, but this is not always as a result of the building fabric but to do with how the property is being used, heated and ventilated. This week’s column looks at the issue of damp, the cause of the problem and what preventative measures can be taken.

What is condensation?

When moisture, that is always present in the air, changes from water vapour to liquid, tiny droplets of water appear. This is most commonly seen indoors on mirrors when you shower. Condensation tends to be worse during winter, but can easily occur any time of year and, if not treated, becomes black mould which is known to contain spore growth that can cause respiratory illness.

What can you do?

I spoke to local damp proofing specialists Tony Flower & Associates who confirm that some of the best, simple ways to reduce or eliminate condensation are as follows:

  • Where condensation gathers, wipe down the windows and sills. This may have to be every day but will help with the problem if the next points are also followed to reduce the build-up of moisture.
  • Try to avoid drying clothes on radiators. The best option is to dry clothes outside where possible or to use a condensing tumble dryer. Using a launderette obviously removes this issue altogether.
  • Keep furniture away from problematic areas, especially North-facing walls, to help air circulate.
  • Use condensation traps, which can be bought cheaply from DIY stores and help remove moisture from the air.
  • Keep the bathroom door closed and open any windows to clear steam after a bath or shower. Use extractor fans, especially where there are no windows. Many times Mr Flower has visited affected homes, only to find that working extractor fans are not being used.

In areas where black mould has taken hold, treat quickly with a diluted bleach or fungicidal wash to remove. Don’t try to brush the mould away as this could cause further problems in other areas. Mr Flower recommends a professionally-installed pacifier vent as this can help with persistent problem areas and an extractor fan, if not already fitted, are both good ideas.

In conclusion

The above changes should help a great deal and can usually cure condensation issues or massively reduce the problem. The best advice is to try to produce less moisture in the home and we also recommend avoiding a cold home. Many issues are caused by not actually keeping the property warm enough, even rooms that are not being used.

Damage which occurs due to a tenant’s failure to reduce moisture, adequately ventilate and/or heat the property could mean they are liable for repair costs or could jeopardise the return of their full deposit. Remember condensation is often a problem with how the property is being used, heated and ventilated rather than the property itself.

Tony Flower & Associates can be contacted on 01394 331996

If you require any further advice please do not hesitate to email me