Mould ... just the word makes me want to frown! As a letting agent, we deal with a whole rang...
... just the word makes me want to frown!
As a letting agent, we deal with a whole range of mildew/mould issues. From the nightmare of Rising Damp, to slight blackening of bath sealant. It is a bone of contention for tenants and landlords alike.
The main causes of mould in property are:
• Water leaks from windows, roof, downspouts,
guttering, internal plumbing
and flooding. (Property issue, Landlord responsibility to repair/maintain). Most often these look like the drip marks they are, water will always travel to the easiest route - then the weakest.
• Penetrating damp through walls. (Property issue, Landlord responsibility to
repair/maintain) Most often looks like a dark stain in an odd area of walls, or, if left, looks like bubbled up plaster.
• Rising damp – usually caused by non-existent or defective damp proof
courses. (Property issue, Landlord responsibility to repair/maintain) Most often found under windows, in 'tidal line' style markings above skirting boards,
• Wet or damp basements/cellars (Property issue, Landlord responsibility to repair/maintain) Most often the easiest to understand - the rest of the property is fine - basement is wet.
• Condensation from high relative humidity in air (Lifestyle issue, Tenant responsibility to maintain/change habits) Most often found behind wardrobes or large furniture items - where stagnant air cannot circulate.
• Too much water vapour or steam being generated through cooking, washing, bathing, showering and clothes drying which is allowed to travel throughout the house. (Lifestyle issue, Tenant responsibility to maintain/change habits) Most often seen on ceilings over shower/bath, or on window sills and frames.
• Inadequate ventilation (Lifestyle issue, Tenant responsibility to maintain/change habits) Most often found as detailed above in Bathrooms and Kitchens but also in far corners of bedrooms (furthest away from heating sources).
• Inadequate heating (Lifestyle issue, Tenant responsibility to maintain/change habits)
• Inadequate cleaning and drying after major water leaks and bursts or floods. (Property issue, Landlord responsibility to repair/maintain) Most likely to look like the original issue has returned - but most likely just 'reappearing' through the patch-up job.
In the last ten years we have seen reports of mould issues increase ten fold but not in the Property Issue category - in the Tenant Lifestyle category. From our experience, this has shown a dramatic increase since Landlords have been expected to keep their rental property to a good lettable standard. Why? I hear you cry, Why would a landlord updating their property be a cause for mould? Well imagine the average built house, never having experienced condensation before, because there were hundreds of tiny areas where air could circulate freely. Then imagine a good Landlord coming along and making updates to the property - Double Glazing for one; Do the new windows have trickle vents? Are the tenants really going to use the trickle vents? All updates to a property tend to include negatives that tenants do not want to use. An air vent gets a little draughty in November, the average tenant will think that this is costing them money in heating - so closes the air vent. Extractor fans in the bathroom - might be a little noisy in the middle of the night - so an average tenant might turn them off. Its raining for three days in a row - so a tenant might think drying their socks on the radiator is a perfectly sound decision.
For a homeowner - we are aware of the perils of these small decisions which could affect the property so dramatically. We know the absolute luxury of having a piping hot shower with the window closed is delightful - we also make the decision to open the window to the cold air is the better idea in the long run. When a homeowner sees condensation on window panes - they wipe it off and put the window on the latch. It is these small acts that mean most homeowners do not experience the little black spots on walls/ceilings.
When we meet a tenant at their new property, we go through a whole host of property tips to make for an easier tenancy. One of these is a 'Condensation Leaflet' an absolute must.
To discuss any issues raised in this article, please feel free to email firstname.lastname@example.org or call Lee/Emma on 01473 212323