Nationwide mould and damp concerns in PRS

Nationwide mould and damp concerns in PRS

0:01 AM, 1st December 2023, About 3 months ago 10

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Mould and damp have become an issue for people across the country, according to a new survey.

According to energy experts Uswitch, 63% of people who’ve experienced mould in housing were tenants in privately rented or local authority housing.

According to the report, 38% of people believe that UK properties are not suitably built to prevent mould.

Both landlords and tenants need to tackle mould head-on

The news comes after Sadiq Khan announced a clampdown on landlords who let out mouldy homes in London.

The survey reveals, 67% believe that mould is the landlord’s responsibility when found in rented accommodation.

Ben Galizzi, Uswitch energy expert, said action to prevent mould in a property should be taken by both the landlord and the tenant.

He said: “Whether you’re a tenant or homeowner, tackling mould can be an ongoing issue if the root cause isn’t rectified. But with so many properties being poorly insulated, and energy costs rising, keeping mould at bay is a difficult task.

“Reasonable steps should be taken by both landlords and tenants to make sure mould is tackled head-on. This could mean that tenant habits need to change within the home, whilst larger projects to fix the building are worked on by the landlord.”

However, according to government figures only an average of 3.6% of private rented sector (PRS) properties were estimated to have dangerous types of mould and damp.

That’s in stark contrast to the popular belief by tenant activist groups and the media that most PRS homes are riddled with mould.

Housing Ombudsman see uptick in complaints

In the last two years, 69% of people have put the heating on less due to energy costs.

Of these people, more than half (54%) believe that mould has become more of a problem in their homes because of this.

Of the top ten local authorities that were complained about relating to mould or damp, nine were in London.

Haringey received an estimated 46.6 complaints per 10,000 housing units making it the most complained about local authority to the Housing Ombudsman.

A number of local authorities have seen a significant uptick in complaints to the Housing Ombudsman. Kirklees saw a notable surge, with only four complaints in the financial year 2021/22 escalating by 400% to reach 20 complaints in 2022/23.

Southend-on-sea, Manchester and Harlow also had increases of 250% or higher.

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Michael Booth

10:45 AM, 2nd December 2023, About 3 months ago

Regular inspections and Tennant adherence to simple lifestyle behaviour eg stop blocking vents off keep rooms free from damp wet clothing , keep house properly vented

Dickie Withers

14:25 PM, 2nd December 2023, About 3 months ago

I have mold in my house I don't have a LL to complain to I suppose I could complain to the mortgage company but they won't give a #hit . The wife will insist on hanging washing on the radiators and closing the window in the bathroom. Salavy this is Britain always been a damp country in winter.

Old Mrs Landlord

16:10 PM, 2nd December 2023, About 3 months ago

If Government figures state only 3.6% of PRS properties have dangerous types of mould and damp, and the worst-affected borough received only 46.7 complaints per 10.000 housing units in a period when almost 70% of people are putting their heating on less, where do Shelter get their accusation that more than 25% of private rentals are a health hazard because of damp and mould? They can't both be right.

Riccardo Agostino

16:36 PM, 2nd December 2023, About 3 months ago

Reply to the comment left by Dickie Withers at 02/12/2023 - 14:25
Have the weather and seasons changed dramatically over the past year, or has the considerable increase in electricity and gas bills forced the tenants to minimize heating and ventilation?


17:00 PM, 2nd December 2023, About 3 months ago

There are two main causes of damp and mold. One is penetrating and the other is surface.

If it's penetrating then maintenance and improvements need to be done to stop water getting in. It could be from outside, up through the ground or leaks etc. leaking pipes, roofs, blocked or faulty gutters sort of thing. This is the worst kind but it can and needs to be fixed to prevent the building from gradually deteriorating.

If it's surface then it's due to condensation, water droplets in the air condensing on cold surfaces. Remove the droplets by airing or mechanical ventilation and insulate walls, ceilings and floors can be possible but insulation is not always cost effective. If it's on windows then better double, triple glazing can be done but as above not necessarily cost effective.

You can sort out all the above but still have condensation, which if not kept under control can and will cause damp and mold.

Energy experts like those mentioned in the article and Sadiq Khan need to understand this. It IS and can be caused by lifestyle. They can't "clampdown on landlords" if it's this type because a landlord doesn't have control over a tenants lifestyle and cleanliness. They also need to understand that there has to be a cost, benefit element to it. It has to be looked at logically.

Maintenance required for penetrating, get it done, no doubt in my mind about this.

Improvements in insulation and heating to keep surfaces warmer can be done within reason. But no one in there right mind is going to spend more than they can recoup in rent or capital gains, they'd just sell the property instead. Unless it's your own home that you intend to live in for your own enjoyment.


I haven't put my heating on much so far this winter because at the moment I'm skint, asset rich (ish) but very cash poor. I've haven't had much condensation in over 20yrs here but I've started to get it on my windows, which is causing black mold around the edges. I'm even getting a bit of mold in places like behind my sofa and in-between the sofa cushions. But I dry my windows off a couple of times a week and clean the black mold every few weeks. I clean the mold from behind the sofa and on the cushions using an absorbent cloth and make sure everything is totally dry before replacing. I also warm the house up and open windows (not at the same time lol) for a good airing, min of once a week.

If I didn't do this, even my fully insulated home with modern quality double glazing would get damp and mold. It's part of life, like cleaning your toilet 😂.

Basic science lesson for Sadiq Khan:

We all breath out water droplets, cook and have a shower. Water droplets get into the air, if we don't remove the water droplets by airing/wiping/dehumidifiering (probabl not a word) and heat the cold surfaces, then the droplets in the air condense on any surface that's colder than the air.

Even in the 20years before my current hardship I still had to clean black mold from around my window pane's every once in a while. I think Sadiq Khan's wife or cleaner must do it because in this country we have a lot of rain that causes water in the air. It's a fact of life it's a damp country.

In my experience as a landlord I've found that younger tenants, who don't have a lot of life experience and do a lot of preening (spend an inordinately long time in the shower).or tenants who are have only recently moved here from a warmer climate, tend to cause damp even in my very modern, well insulated flat. Luckily they haven't stayed too long so I give it a good clean when they move out.

Sadiq Khan may want to 'clamp down on landlords' but there has to be a common sense approach and tenants taking some responsibility.

Us landlords today live in fear that if a tenant gets swayed by the anti landlord culture it's easy for them to cause damp and mold by deliberately creating steam over a a few weeks especially in hermetically sealed modern properties. Block vents, it's easy. We live in fear😨.

I've been lucky and mostly had great tenants 😀

Riccardo Agostino

17:06 PM, 2nd December 2023, About 3 months ago

Reply to the comment left by Zen at 02/12/2023 - 17:00
Thabnk you very much for this


13:54 PM, 15th December 2023, About 2 months ago

We have installed background ventilation fans (2) in each property, which are on very quietly all the time, but fire up as needed, like when showering and high humidity in the property. For example in a basement flat we have not had an issue, or any sign of damp nor mould in over 5 years. Our moisture content readings in the flat are monitored and acceptable.

Riccardo Agostino

14:15 PM, 15th December 2023, About 2 months ago

Excellent; what is the cost (including installation) for two background ventilation fans in a property? Many thanks

Reluctant Landlord

14:24 PM, 15th December 2023, About 2 months ago

Reply to the comment left by Robert at 15/12/2023 - 13:54
perfectly good idea except when the tenant does not maintain credit on the elec meter...

The issue is inherently a lack of both ventilation AND heating though. A fine balance of both as well as not causing additional moisture in the property like leaving wet washing about (irrespective if radiators on or not)
All down to tenant use if, like Zen says, its not damp coming from issues with the structure of the building itself.


14:56 PM, 15th December 2023, About 2 months ago

We used Envirovent (not an employee or related). It is condensation we are addressing.
Three bedroom flat, a family of 4 persons. On advice we installed two ventilation fans, one for the bathroom, and another does the whole flat (sits in the ceiling corner of the kitchen venting outside and draws from the hallway)- it's a bigger unit.. They are on all the time - trickle. I was impressed how quiet they are in the background. As needed - showers - they wind up the power.
Total cost, plus VAT and Installation was £936. That may sound high, but not compared to what's coming on this issue. Envirovent measured moisture levels throughout the flat beforehand. We were on the edge and just above the required levels. Measured again a year later we are below.
Another flat, basement, we were renovating completely so we put in a spider system in the ceiling space, which connects to the bathroom, utility and WC, then exhausts outside. No sign of any condensation issue over 5 years.
In another we have recently replaced two basic bathroom exhaust fans for ventilation. There was no existing condensation issue but the walls and room are drier.

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