Mould is a major cause of concern for landlords and tenants alike. Unsurprisingly, it’s also at the heart of many protracted legal battles between landlords and tenants across the United Kingdom.
For landlords, with every new season arrives different challenges in the form of damp management and mould related troubles. Before we can get to the root of the problem, both tenants and landlords jump the gun and start the blame game in an attempt to absolve themselves of wrongdoing.
The difference between right and wrong gets more and more blurred as both parties accuse each other of being responsible for the mould.
What’s interesting is that most disputes can be avoided if both parties tried to understand the various underlying causes of mould and possible solutions to the problems.
After all, the only way to fix an issue is if you get it properly diagnosed first.
Mould growth is not just a case of temporary inconvenience. When left unattended, it could disrupt the life of tenants and land property owner in legal troubles for negligence.
So, what are the causes of mould?
What should be your position as a landlord in the situation?
Do you have any rights?
Are you acting in accordance with tenant laws?
Should you be solely responsible for fixing the mould in property?
Well, don’t worry, our property experts here at Snippie have combined some useful information landlords can use while dealing with the issues of mould management.
Some major causes of mould you should be aware of
Mould related issues arise mostly because of the accumulation of condensation.
It’s a phenomenon that hits properties when the warm moisture from places like the kitchen and shower room comes into contact with cold surfaces.
Once the heat turns into moisture, it remains stagnant in the air. Things get a whole lot worse in modern homes too.
While innovative proofing technologies used in modern homes do a great job in keeping the rooms warm, they are infamous for preventing the moisture from ever leaving the property.
Over a period of time, excess moisture starts building up and settles in different areas of your property.
If left untackled, even the latent manifestation of condensation in places such as windows and bathroom can easily lead to the development of mould.
Among the other catalysts of a mould infestation in property is drying clothes.
Every time you put a bunch of clothes out to dry, you’re looking at over one litre of water waiting to evaporate into thin air. That’s a lot!
Overcrowded properties are another prime contributing factor.
Depending on the humidity in a space, the average human is expected to discharge a fairly large amount of fluid into the atmosphere on a daily basis.
So, you can imagine the amount of mould that an overcrowded space can potentially create.
Keep it in mind that mould can also result from external factors outside your property.
Issues like leaky pipes, damaged tiles and guttering can go a long in creating or worsening the damp situation in and around your property.
Just a spell of rain and you will find yourself looking at some damp area that refuses to dry out.
“If the mould is growing due to some structural flaw in the property, then the landlord is expected to take care of it and solve the issue on their own.”
Most of the time, the grey area in identifying the causes of mould makes it even harder to decide whom to attribute responsibility for fixing in the issue.
Much to the relief of landlords, the advent of damp proof course has, by and large, reduced the incidence of rising damp.
An effectively damp proofed property is immune to rising damp.
For instance, if the mould is growing due to some structural flaw in the property, then the landlord is expected to take care of it and solve the issue on their own.
The bottom line is that even if you manage to talk your tenant into changing their lifestyle, you won’t be able to do away with the mould issues once and for all.
On the other hand, as a landlord, you can always take measures to ventilate your property effectively and reduce the possibility of condensation cropping up.
Remember, every time you passively wait around to respond to events, you may be undermining the value of your property.
What are the major risks involved?
You can’t overestimate the hazardous impact mould could have on your tenant’s lifestyle and health at large.
There’s actually more to it than meets the eye.
It’s notorious for releasing small spores that linger in the atmosphere, causing asthma and other respiratory conditions.
The Housing Health and Safety Rating System strictly advises landlords to safeguard property against the onslaught of mould. If left unaddressed, the issue can also affect the lifespan of the property.
“The sooner you think about mould as not just an excrescence on your property, but rather as a problem that requires an immediate solution, the better”.
If you expose your walls to persistent moisture, your repair costs will go through the roof.
By the time the mould has started affecting the foundations of your property, you have probably reached a point of no return.
But don’t worry.
There is a way around the problem for landlords. The Landlord and Tenant Act of 1985 stresses that it’s mandatory for landlords to build a property conducive to the safe dwelling of tenants.
How to go about fixing mould
Before the mould troubles get out of hand, you can spot them at the very outset and take preventive measures.
Taking the following steps would help you tackle the mould-related issues head-on.
Using extractor fans in the most damp-prone zones like bathroom and kitchen will help you keep the rooms moisture-free.
It’s highly recommended that you get your tenants to use a tumble dryer. Have you considered using vented windows?
Installing modern vented windows will facilitate the airflow in the room while offering the right amount of warmth for the inhabitants.
You should never pull up furniture uncomfortably close to the interior walls, as it could increase the chances of mould build-up. Make sure to place them neatly with the right amount of space between them.
Depending on the size of the mould problem you’re managing, you may want to look into ventilating your property more effectively.
Get good quality dehumidifiers to suck water content out of the fabric materials in your property.
If the mould has made its way into your property from the outside, then you should do everything necessary to diagnose and resolve the root cause of the problem.
Make sure that the maintenance of the damp proof and roof is in the right order and that there’s no damage in them.
Turning a blind eye to your responsibilities
As a landlord, fewer things can be more nightmarish than the task of managing the mould in your property.
At the same time, tenants are too frightened to talk to landlords about mould for fear of being blamed for it.
Most of them, simply fear that the news of mould related problems will be greeted with an eviction notice.
Of course, landlords are expected to deal with the repairs and other issues, but there’s very little they can do when the tenants keep them in the dark about the problems.
It’s absolutely essential that tenants understand the details of the tenancy agreement, and that they know how to go about reporting the issues they face during their tenancy.
As per the landlord-tenant law, upon receiving a report from the tenant, a landlord is supposed to respond within 14 days with a detailed written account of how they plan on offering a solution to the problem. In the event of the landlord’s failure to follow it up, the tenant is entitled to file a formal complaint at the local council.
Any attempt on a landlord’s part to evict a tenant following the former’s failure to address the reported issue will have legal ramifications.
“Yes, that’s right, your negligence in fixing mould issue in the property within a prescribed time-frame can even land you in jail”.
If you can’t keep your property free from mould and other hazardous issues, it’s well within the right of your tenant to report you to the authorities who can then force you into taking the necessary measures.
This is why it’s important as a landlord to make sure that your property complies with safety and quality standards.
In essence, unless you want to spend the rest of your life as a landlord paying off the tenant compensation, you should act responsibly and build a property that is fully fit for tenant occupancy.
You may even have to spend more money than usual from your pocket, but it’s important to seek expert help to tackle mould problems.
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