Cases of damp are common in the private rented sector. But for the information of tenants and landlords, how do you spot it, and how should it be dealt with?
The findings of a report commissioned by the TDS Charitable Foundation, an organisation which works to raise standards within the private rented sector by providing landlords and tenants with information regarding their rights and responsibilities, reveal that damp is a major issue in the private rented sector.
This report, released last year, precipitated a push to get landlords to make sure their rental properties are free of damp, mould and condensation, which blights many properties in the sector. Indeed, the report found that 38% of tenants in the survey had experienced damp, while 41% had experienced mould. It is part of the TDS Charitable Foundation's ongoing efforts to make both landlords and tenants aware of how to identify, deal with, and prevent damp and mould.
In this article, we're going to focus on damp: how to identify it, and how to deal with it.
What is damp?
Damp is the build-up of moisture. It occurs when there is too much moisture and it has nowhere to go. If there is a sudden increase in the amount of moisture entering a building, often this might be a room like the bathroom, kitchen or laundry room, then evidence of damp can occur quite quickly.
In addition to condensation and poor ventilation, damp can be caused by drips from poor plumbing, leaking gutters, missing roof tiles, broken downpipes, a damaged damp-proof course, or even surrounding vegetation, among other causes.
How can damp be identified?
Is there black mould growth on the walls, ceilings or skirting boards? Does the atmosphere feel cold? Are there signs of water or condensation on the window sills? Damp patches on the walls generally indicate there is a problem with damp. Or it might be that paintwork is discolouring or the wallpaper or plasterwork is peeling away? These are all ways to identify damp in a property.
How do you deal with damp?
If you suspect damp, call in a surveyor to investigate the extent of the problem. The issue will need to be dealt with at source – a DIY clean-up job on its own will not suffice, as the damp will reappear. Once the issue is dealt with properly, make sure measures are in place to minimise the risk of damp recurring. Areas affected by mould or damp will need to be dried out (you may need a dehumidifier) and cleaned or repainted/replastered.
Who is responsible for dealing with damp?
It is always in the landlord's best interests to resolve any issues with damp. But damp has many causes. If a surveyor reveals that damp was caused by structural damage to the rental property, then it is the landlord's responsibility to deal with it. However, if damp is caused by condensation, which is an environmental problem, and is generally caused by the way the tenant or tenants use the property, some might argue it is partly the tenant's responsibility to deal with it. But the landlord is always responsible for making sure the home is inhabitable and safe to live in.
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