Damp & Mould - Landlord found Guilty, fined for damp and mould and ordered to get rid of it and stop it coming back...ever!

Recently a tenant successfully prosecuted her landlord the London Borough of Lambeth for failing to deal with serious damp and mould. This is their third criminal conviction for this and private landlords can also be convicted.

The tenant lived in a small block of flats and her flat was uninsulated with draughty single glazed windows. Damp and mould developed.

Her flat stank of damp and mould and she had to burn incense sticks to try and mask the smell. Her clothes and possessions went mouldy and were contaminated by the damp.

Fortunately the damp and mould did not cause any serious health problems.

Although the Council were told about the problems they did nothing and she also asked her Councillor for help but the Council still did nothing

An Environmental Health Consultant was instructed and he reported that the premises were prejudicial to health.

A formal notice was delivered to the Council on 17th January 2014, demanding that they deal with the problems but nothing was done.

Given the long history of the Council ignoring the case, a Criminal prosecution in Camberwell Green Magistrates Court was commenced on 11th February 2014.

The London Borough of Lambeth pleaded guilty to the criminal offence at the first hearing in April 2014 and the case was adjourned to 28 April 2014 for sentencing.

On 28th April 2014 London Borough of Lambeth were convicted and fined £250 for failing to deal with the damp and mould. They were ordered to pay the tenant £750 compensation plus costs.

Most importantly they were ordered to complete works to get rid of the damp and mould and stop it coming back, ever. This includes double glazing and upgraded insulation, leaving the flat much more energy efficient.

Tenants can prosecute their landlords in the criminal courts for serious damp and mould. Although this case was brought against a social landlord, Lambeth Council, the procedure can be used against private landlords too.

All Landlords should take the issue of mould and damp very seriously.

Poor ventilation in bathrooms and kitchens is a major cause of mould in property as is the tenants drying their clothes inside over or near to heaters. There should also be mechanical ventilation in the form of an extract fan in a bathroom and kitchen and in a bathroom these should have a timer allowing them to continue running after the light is switched off. If the moisture is not extracted it will spread to other rooms causing mould around windows and behind furniture where it is dark and cold. An ideal environment for mould growth.

We also recommend that landlords install a washer/dryer and not just a washer to reduce the amount of drying of clothes near heaters inside a flat.

Admittedly we cannot make a landlord install mechanical ventilation and it might not stop mould completely but could reduce it significantly. The tenants of course also need to share some of the responsibility.