One of the most common complaints we deal with as a letting agent is usually about mould (from damp and condensation, if you want to be clever). So, let’s dispel some of the myths and pass to you our advice.
Firstly, depending on who you are talking too, mould is often attributed as the fault of some other party. So for example, a landlord will quickly blame a tenant for mould growth, and vice versa a tenant will pin the blame directly and solely on the landlord or agent for letting a house with a “mould problem”. It really isn’t usually that well clear cut.
Mould growth can be caused for many reasons, and it is something we’ve discussed in previous blogs and in our tenant guides. So in brief:-
- if you’re living in an old house, which many in Aberystwyth are, you’re likely to get some form of mould or damp/condensation.
- there are different types of mould, the one you need to worry about is generally very very black mould, as this will affect your breathing and health. Read more about the types of mould here.
- Generally, mould growth comes from damp or condensation within a house, so keeping these at bay will help keep that mould growth low.
- What increases condensation in a house? No ventilation and basically living there like that. So imagine you keep your windows closed all year, but through that year you’re cooking, drying clothes, bathing, heating is going on and off. This causes the air to become very moist (humid). When the air is full of moisture, it will become attracted to colder surfaces and condense. You might notice this every now and again when cooking with a lot of steamed food, your cupboards or windows might condense. What you haven’t ever noticed is that this is also happening to your walls, behind wardrobes, on colder walls and in corners. Over time, it’ll go from being wet condensation to damp walls, and then mould growth. A tell tale sign of this sort of mould growth is when mould grows in triangles from corners. So you have to keep your house ventilated – annoying in the winter but stops mould. We have a tenant who lives in a basement flat that has had many problems with damp over the years, however this tenant leaves 3 of 6 windows open an inch, 365 days a year. No problems with condensation or damp since they moved in 3 years ago.
- A common issue we also see is tenants not using their heating to save on bills. This means the walls of the house grow cold, especially in the wintery months. Because they’re cold, and even by just breathing in the house, you’re causing condensation. You’ll probably be amazed if you turn your heating on, the damp will go away before it becomes a bigger issue.
- From a property owner point of view, if you own a house with damp issues, it might be worth looking at the heating type. It’s imperative that you offer a heating solution that tenants can use when they aren’t at home – so avoid electric convection heating where tenants are only safe to use it when they are home. We’d recommend gas central heating as the ideal, and a great way of keeping properties warm and dry during those damp, grim months.
So we’ve got plenty of tips, but sometimes, the fault is just with the house. There might be structural problems that haven’t occurred before – a loose tile on the roof which is now letting water in very slowly so it’s not “a leak” but forms damp and mould. Don’t panic!
The best thing to do is contact your landlord or letting agent as soon as you notice a patch or mould growth. Someone should then come out and assess the situation, and offer advice. If a problem looks to be structural, we’d usually then instruct a builder to meet us at the property and investigate the issue further.
Of course if a problem is structural, or lacking of heating systems in the house, it’s rare than a letting agent would be able to authorise the works without the landlords say so. We would also advise informing the local authority and asking them to do an inspection of the house as well. Going to the council is also a great way to get confirmation on the type and causes of damp and mould, because they aren’t invested in the property.