Landlords don’t have to foot the bill for damp homes

by Mark Alexander

14:36 PM, 26th November 2010
About 8 years ago

Landlords don’t have to foot the bill for damp homes

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Landlords don’t have to foot the bill for damp homes

Landlords can expect to see a jump in the number of complaints from tenants about damp in their homes over the next few months – but who is responsible for paying to put the problem right?

Many landlords are seen as a bottomless money pit by letting agents and tenants who are on the phone at the first sign of a problem in a rented home, but the law says that damp is not the landlords problem in many cases.

The landlord does have a responsibility to ‘keep the structure and exterior’ of a property in good repair under the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985.

But ‘keep’ means that the property must have deteriorated in a way that needs repair and because damp or condensation is evident, does not automatically mean a repair is required.

Give tenants advice to prevent condensation

The burden of proof comes from the case Southwark London Borough Council v McIntosh which found the tenant must show damp either arises from a defect in the property that the landlord has not repaired or the damp has led to damage that the landlord should repair.

Most tenants ignore the fact that damp and condensation may arise from the way they use the home – like drying clothes indoors without ventilation that causes condensation that leads to damp. Here, the obligation is on the tenant to pay for any damage caused.

A practical way to avoid condensation issues is to provide ingoing tenants with a guide to heating and ventilating the property and pointing out bad practice like drying clothes on radiators. The guide should include a warning about responsibility for paying for any repairs as a result of failing to follow the guide.

A good idea is to hand over a copy and include acceptance of the guide as part of the signing of the tenancy agreement or inventory.

Damp problems are also actionable by local council environmental health officers who can go as far as issuing an enforcement order to close a property if repair and remediation work is not carried out.



Comments

10:52 AM, 17th December 2010
About 8 years ago

I have just returned from holiday to find my tenant has complained to MK Council about damp/mould in the property she has rented from me for over 12 years. I have received a long letter with a number of stipulations, giving me 14 days to sort this and that and 28 days to sort this, that and the other. In am angry and upset, as my tenant has always come to me with any problems, which I always deal with promptly. I am wondering how much power this lady has, who is quoting the Housing Act 2004 to me. One of the stipulations is that I install a GAS central heating system, when the property is "all electric" at present - a situation my tenant had told me she was happy with. The problem is actually caused by the way my tenant uses the property and I know this as my daughter lived in the property before her. Any advice please - I'm pretty desperate!!!!

Regards, Christina Tingle

11:17 AM, 17th December 2010
About 8 years ago

Hi Christina

I've been in a similar situation. Don't let emotion get the better of you. This is a business so stay professional. First, write to the Council, acknowledge their letter and say that you are investigating the problem and the potential solutions. Point out that their timescales are unrealistic and you don't want to be forced to serve a Section 21 notice on your tenant at this time of year.

Then arrange to have a chat with the tenant and have a look at the problem. Stay friendly. Offer advice on damp. If you Google the subject there are some excellent and very authoritive leaflets.

Offer to clean and redecorate the areas with damp. This will be cheaper than having to find a new tenant.

If the tenant is happy with everything that's agreed, advise the council.

If not, serve a section 21 notice and advise the council of the position. To get them off your back it is also advisable to get a suitably qualified person to give you a report explaining why the damp is occuring and their advice to prevent it.

Good look and thanks for commenting.

Regards

Mark Alexander

22:06 PM, 20th December 2010
About 8 years ago

i have such a situation at the moment where the tenant has left after 3.5 years of staying in the property and drying his cloths on hangers, on the curtain rails and radiators ,lack of ventilation ect ect he just will not come to any understanding with the issues ,after providing information as to the correcting the situation we now have to get the matter dealt with by the county court thats the way it goes sometimes you have to have your day in court just to fight your case and your rights .

19:35 PM, 12th January 2011
About 8 years ago

I have found that HG spray works like magic on the black left by condensation and I buy it in from Lakeland (also available on internet) and sell it to my tenants at cost to make them take responsibility for their actions but as their bad habits cause my property to deteriorate I have also invested in movement activated electric fans in the bathroom and kitchen which seems to have done the trick. hope this helps

20:29 PM, 12th January 2011
About 8 years ago

Hey Ruth

When you say you buy it from Lakeland do you mean Lakeland Florida? If so that's an amazing coincidence as we are a UK based company but I used to live in Lakeland Florida.

Regards

Mark


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