Tackling damp and mould

Your Responsibilities

Every day activities in your home can create moisture, and lead to condensation, and a build-up of damp and mould on walls. You are expected to adequately ventilate your home to prevent the build-up of condensation.

Ways to prevent the build-up of condensation:

  • Cover pans when cooking
  • Use extractor fans in kitchens and bathrooms
  • Close internal doors when cooking and showering
  • Dry clothes outdoors or use a tumble dryer
  • If you have to dry washing indoors, dry in the bathroom with the doors closed and the extractor fan on
  • Open bedroom windows for 5-10 minutes when you get up
  • Open a window after you have had a bath or shower
  • Keep a small window ajar or a trickle vent open when using a room. Do not leave windows wide open for hours in winter as this will allow cold air in from the outside – leaving them open no more than 1 – 2 cm is enough for background ventilation. Use the lockable ventilation position on your window if this is available.
  • Ventilate kitchens and bathrooms when in use by opening windows wider. You could talk to your landlord about fitting humidistat controlled fans in these rooms that come on automatically when air becomes too moist
  • Use a cooker hood that vents to the outside. Re-circulating hoods simply move moisture back into the kitchen
  • Ventilate cupboards and wardrobes. Cut a ventilation slot in the back of each shelf or in the back of wardrobes (remember to ask for your landlord’s permission where necessary).
  • Leave a gap between large pieces of furniture and walls. Where possible, place wardrobes and furniture against internal walls. Do not overfill them as this prevents good air circulation
  • Ask if any new windows to be fitted could have trickle vents
  • Do not block permanent ventilation points as these are there to help to ventilate your home
  • Do not completely block chimneys – fit an air brick with a louvered grill.

You must also keep the property warm – you will not beat condensation unless your home is ventilated, and you keep it warm.

What to do if you notice damp and mould:

You should inform your landlord immediately. You should do this in writing and keep a record for yourself. 

Once condensation happens, it will keep getting worse unless you take steps to control it.

It cannot be cured overnight. Along with the above advice, you will need to:

  • Control mould growth – this can be done be wiping affected surfaces with a fungicidal wash that has a Health and Safety Executive ‘approval number’. Follow the manufacturers’ instructions carefully. Dry-clean mildewed clothes and shampoo carpets. Do not brush mould as this can release spores into the air;
  • Remove excess moisture from your home – wipe water off windows and surfaces as it forms, and then wring the cloth out over the sink. Alternatively, you can use a dehumidifier. You will need to be patient, as this process can take a lot of effort and time
  • Keep the property warm and ventilated – you will not beat condensation unless your home is kept warm and you ventilate
  • Once the moisture and mould are under control, you can consider painting the worst walls with a mould resistant paint. Do not overlay with normal emulsion paint or wallpaper, and always ensure you discuss this with your landlord first.

Your landlord’s responsibilities

  1. Arrange for someone to visit the property and inspect the problem
  2. Carry out any necessary repairs in a reasonable time. For example, they are responsible for fix leaking pipes, broken heating systems, replacing missing roof tiles, and repairing cracked walls and rotten window frames. They should also ensure any damage caused to walls, skirting boards or floors, is addressed, and redecorate the affected areas as necessary.
  3. If the damp and mould isn’t caused by a repair issue, your landlord should still consider improvements to the heating, insulation and ventilation.