Key Issue - Dealing with mould in your rented home
As well as significant damage to the property, mould can pose a serious health risk to renters. That's why landlords and their tenants need to work together to minimise the chances of mould developing and quickly eradicate any that does materialise.
How does mould develop?
Mould is generally caused by damp and condensation in a property, both of which are caused by humidity and excess moisture. This can be caused by a range of common factors, including:
- water getting inside through the roof
- cracks in the walls
- damaged or blocked gutters and drains
- poor insulation
- damaged or unsealed windows
- rising damp
- poor ventilation
- plumbing issues
On top of this, mould can be caused or exacerbated by the lifestyles of people living in the property. The main drivers of this are usually a lack of ventilation when cooking or taking showers and drying clothes inside. A poorly ventilated property creates the perfect environment for mould to thrive.
If tenants don't manage the ventilation of their rental property and it suffers from one or more of the issues outlined above, then the chances of mould developing and spreading are vastly increased.
What do tenants and landlords need to look out for?
If you spot damp or unusual levels of condensation, these could be early signs that mould is going to develop.
If mould has already started to grow, then there will be visible signs. On top of this, you may notice unusual odours or people spending a lot of time in the property may have more problems with allergies or breathing.
How can tenants prevent or remove mould?
When any mould develops, the first thing tenants should do is let their landlord or letting agent know about it as soon as possible. As with most property problems, the longer mould is ignored, the worse it will get.
It's likely that your landlord will be keen to identify the cause of mould, but this is something tenants should think about as well because it could help them to prevent or minimise the chances of future problems.
If the mould is not too serious, then it can be removed through cleaning, but it’s important that the cause of the mould is identified to prevent it happening again. You'll need some mould removing detergent or a suitable bleach mixture and will need to make sure the area is thoroughly scrubbed. If you don't remove the mould properly it will just come back.
When cleaning mould, you must make sure that you wear protective clothing and gloves, as well as disposing of any items - cleaning or otherwise - which come into contact with the infected area.
To prevent mould developing in the future, tenants’ general upkeep of the property and its ventilation - as well as vigilance for the early signs of mould - will help towards preventing damp and condensation issues.
What should landlords do if mould develops in their property?
When damp and mould problems arise, communication with your tenant is essential. Tackling the problem early and working out the cause is crucial. Then deciding what can be done by both parties to prevent mould developing in the future, could also prove invaluable to both the health of your tenants and your investment
The first step is to identify the cause of the mould to prevent any recurrence once its cleaned. If you’re particularly concerned about who is responsible for a mould problem, then you can get a professional to come in and assess what is causing it . If it is a particularly serious structural problem, then it could be expensive and potentially complicated to rectify.
When removing mould, it’s important - to make sure it is completely eradicated, otherwise it will return and the problem will remain. Alongside improving ventilation and installing dehumidifiers, in some cases anti-mould ormildew paint can be effective in stopping mould from reoccurring in a particular spot.
If you’re particularly concerned, set more regular inspections / or if the property is managed property get the managing agent to do so etc. regular maintenance or installation of automated extractor fans for bathrooms and kitchens
What are the implications of mould damage?
Being a landlord obviously comes with important responsibilities for the tenants who occupy your properties. Most importantly, damp and mould can pose a health risk - particularly for people with existing respiratory problems or allergies. Mould can cause infections and exacerbate asthma or allergies. It also produces irritants and in some cases toxins which can be dangerous to humans.
Damp and mould could cause long-standing damage to a property, so it's important to take any instances of it seriously and deal with it immediately. What's more, evidence of mould could uncover a more serious structural problem with the property or something fundamentally wrong with the plumbing or drainage system.