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Diary of a Dundee Property Dachshund

We generally inspect at the three month point of the tenancy and then if everything is going smoothly we switch to six or even nine months depending on the level of confidence we have in the specific tenant and of course any specific instructions.

The tenants should be expecting me as we text them in advance so there are no surprises. We generally inspect at the three month point of the tenancy and then if everything is going smoothly we switch to six or even nine months depending on the level of confidence we have in the specific tenant and of course any specific instructions we may have had from the landlord.

If we have good tenants with a track record of looking after the property then we see no need to intrude on their privacy any more than we have to, after all it may be our landlords’ property but it’s the tenants home.

The tenants probably won’t be in as most work or at University and they know I’m not going to go rifling through their underwear drawer, mainly because it wouldn’t fit.

The first one goes very smoothly, it’s a first floor, one bed flat in one of Dundees pervasive Victorian/Edwardian tenement blocks, this tenant is great, the place is always immaculate and I leave a thank you note saying so.

The next couple are OK a have some minor cleanliness issues, particularly with the HMO but nothing a bit of elbow grease or a touch of the ‘Mrs Doubtfires’ with the hoover (other brands of vacuum cleaner are available) wouldn’t cure and I will contact the tenants to explain that to them. 

We had a tenant once who when it came to her check out and we noted that the carpet didn’t look like it had been hovered she looked at us askance and said ‘but why would I hoover the carpet, I’ve only been here six months’.

The last one is the three bedroom house which is OK in terms in general (lovely family) but we have an on-going issue with condensation and the tenant is to put it mildly, in denial about it.

As usual the general cleanliness is absolutely fine, may be a little untidy (not something that concerns me). That said we seem to have an on-going and increasingly serious mildew/condensation problem in both the bathroom and also one of the spare bedrooms that is being used for storage…. A lot of storage.

Ah condensation, the bane of most letting agents lives, the never ending arguments with tenants (or some charity/pressure group who often wouldn’t know damp if they were stood in a puddle of their own making) who call us and say the property has ‘damp’ and demanding that we do something about it immediately.  However, after some questions to get a description of the issue and/or possibly a visit it subsequently transpires that its not damp but condensation.

What is the difference I hear you cry (and you’re not alone), well in its simplest form, damp normally refers to rising or penetrating damp and is usually a structural issue with the property and this would be an issue that it was the landlords responsibility to fix.

Condensation is completely different; it is normally due to relative humidity or damp in the air and very rarely to physical issues with the property.  A couple of common examples would be after a shower when the windows/walls are covered in water droplets or if the windows are running with water when you wake up in the morning.  This can be exacerbated by the weather/seasons and if there is too much storage in the property e.g. furniture, boxes etc against walls preventing air flow.

But the real difference is that true damp is normally related to the property whereas condensation and its resulting black mould/mildew is…. (Please don’t hate me for saying this, I’m a really, really cute Dachshund)………. A LIFESTYLE ISSUE.  In other words you, your pets and what you do in the property are by far the biggest cause.

This isn’t just our opinion its also what local authorities will tell you, bottom line is if you are not heating and/or ventilating the property sufficiently or appropriately then you will get condensation, no if’s no but’s.  I know this not only because of lots of experience with rental property but also because I (and my pet humans) recently bought a new house and we got mildew.  You can imagine we were not happy and were going to call the builder when I suddenly realised that the rooms that were affected didn’t have the window air vents open.  We wiped the mildew off and started ventilating properly; wonder of wonders, some six months later and the mildew has not returned anywhere, simples.

Just think about how much water is generated each day by simple things, your breathing (no jokes, honestly Google it you will be surprised), washing, cooking possibly drying clothes, pets etc) and it all has to go somewhere. our homes are increasingly sealed, double glazing, draft excluders, UVPC doors, cavity insulation etc all of which is great for keeping your heating bill down but also really restricts airflow, which is why you have to ventilate.

We have had tenants who are adamant that they open the windows after a shower, wipe down the walls in the bathroom, open the vents on the windows and put the heating on when needed, yet the condensation and mildew continue to grow.  The fundamental problem with this theory is that is normally either not true or they are exaggerating how much they are doing it.  Also because it’s an issue that is generally the responsibility of the tenant then they will be held liable for any repairs/redecoration that may be required as a result.

The really, really good news is that it can, in almost all cases, be stopped.  Ventilate the property, open window vents and windows (obviously how much is subject to the weather etc), leave internal doors open to let air circulate, if you have fans/extractors in the bathroom or kitchen make sure they work (if not contact your agent) and don’t switch them off, heat your rooms appropriately and don’t overly clutter rooms (I know this can be subjective).

If you’re not sure about any of this then ask your letting agent for advice (we give out a written guide to all new tenants), if they are any good they will be happy to discuss this or even visit the property to show you what they are talking about, this is one of those things where prevention is always better than cure.   I’m not having a go at tenants here, as I said it has happened to me.  But in this case the agents and landlords job is to educate and inform, but ultimately the solution is in the tenants hands and you really don’t want an annoyed little Dachshund chewing on your slippers. 

Love,  Miss Toots X



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