How to avoid mould - and a dispute between landlords and tenants

Tue 29 Nov 2016

As the long winter months get underway, many home owners, landlords and tenants up and down the country will begin to find themselves affected by a range of problems the cold weather can inflict on a property.

One of the most common is mould. It might not sound like a particularly serious issue, but for thousands of landlords and tenants in the UK it is a major headache.

Capable of growing anywhere from carpet to clothing, inside walls, on pipes and above ceilings, mould causes more disputes between landlords and tenants than any other issue.

Not only can it be extremely expensive and difficult to fix, it can damage the health of people living with it through the allergens, irritants and toxins it produces.

Allison Thompson, managing director of property specialist Leaders, comments: “Mould can seemingly appear out of nowhere and very quickly become a huge concern in many properties.

“We often see landlords and tenants pointing the finger at each other when mould appears, with the former suspecting its presence is the result of the lifestyle of the latter. However, tenants often believe their landlord should have done more to prevent it.

“The good news is, most cases of mould that we are alerted to are the result of high humidity rather than any faults with a building, and this can be easily addressed. The most effective approach to take in avoiding or tackling mould problems is to implement measures that reduce moisture within a home.”

Leaders has compiled five practical tips to help landlords and their tenants reduce the likelihood of their property being affected by mould.

• Identify problem areas in a property: While it is impossible to entirely mould-proof a property, you can strengthen its defences. Think about which areas are at most risk. For instance, does the bathroom flood or does condensation form around the bedroom window? Preventing mould in these places could be as simple as treating them with the right products or making minor repairs.

• Focus on ventilation: The growth of mould can be accelerated by some everyday activities. Cooking dinner, taking a shower or doing the laundry releases moisture into your home, so make sure you have effective ventilation systems in place to ensure it does not stick around. Tenants should be advised to keep bathroom and kitchen doors closed whilst washing and cooking to limit the spread of condensation, and not to hang washing indoors to dry.

• Divert water away from your property: If the terrain around your home does not naturally slope, allowing water to flow away, it could gather and eventually seep into your basement or walls. Find a way to drain or push it as far away as possible.

• Monitor humidity: Indoor humidity should be between 30 and 60 per cent. A good hardware store will sell a device that allows you to measure your exact level, and if you find it is too high you can take action in troublesome spots, such as areas where condensation builds.

• Dry wet areas: It is impossible for mould to grow without moisture, so it is crucial that you dry any area that becomes wet immediately. Whether your bath water has spilled on to the floor, a pipe has developed a leak or there has been heavy rainfall, aim to dry it as soon as you can.

Allison adds: “We know from more than thirty years’ experience of looking after rented property that these simple tips will help landlords and tenants avoid becoming embroiled in a dispute and, most importantly of all, keep properties free of mould and the damage it causes.”

For expert advice on renting, letting, selling or purchasing property please contact your local Leaders branch.