Is Damp and Mould Driving You Up The Wall?
If you have ongoing damp and mould problems in your rental property then you'll know that getting rid of it can seem to be almost impossible. The NHS states that “if you have damp and mould in your home you're more likely to have respiratory problems, respiratory infections, allergies or asthma” (source: https://www.nhs.uk/common-health-questions/lifestyle/can-damp-and-mould-affect-my-health/). This can be especially bad for children and older people who can find that their home is giving them breathing difficulties.
Types of damp
It is important to understand that there are two main types of ‘damp’ found in homes:
- Structural damp is caused by rising damp or penetrating damp and this is a building defect which must be fixed by the property owner
- Atmospheric damp comes from high levels of water in the air, leading to condensation and eventually mould growth
Getting rid of damp problems
The first step in resolving an ongoing damp problem is to understand clearly which type of problem is present and from there an action plan can be drawn up to get it fixed. Structural problems will most likely need major works undertaking to install a new damp proof course or to stop rainwater coming in from outside the building. Atmospheric problems tend to a need a holistic approach as often a combination of limited airflow in the home, poor heating, poor insulation and the way the property is used all can lead to condensation and mould problems.
Unfortunately in the rental sector it is all too common for landlords to blame the tenant’s lifestyle for all of the damp problems but this is most definitely not always the case. As an example if we imagine a family living in a first floor flat with no clothes drying facilities then it is unreasonable to blame the condensation and mould growth on clothes left drying on radiators. The flat should have adequate airflow to cope with water produced by a family – an average person will breathe and sweat out 1 litre of water per day and this all has to go somewhere!
The Homes (fitness for Human Habitation) Act which came into force for all rental properties in March 2020 puts the ball firmly in the landlords court. The landlord will need to demonstrate that appropriate steps have been taken to reduce the damp and that enough ventilation is provided.
When you are renting a home it can be really difficult to get professional and impartial damp and mould advice as your landlord will typically use their own contractors. If you try to get a company to investigate on your behalf they won’t be able to without the landlord’s permission (which may not be given!). To get around this problem Damp Genius has developed a Virtual Survey which is conducted entirely over WhatsApp – no access to the property is needed yet you get a trained damp specialist surveyor to look at the problem! All findings can be put into writing and we can even write a letter explaining the problems and solutions ready for you to send to your landlord.
Remember if you're struggling with damp and mould that it is always solvable and then benefits to you and your families health are worth the time and effort involved.
Article written by Tom Dear CSRT CSSW Qualified Damp Specialist https://dampgenius.co.uk