Structural survey was OK but tenants report damp after just two weeks

by Readers Question

11:48 AM, 15th February 2015
About 4 years ago

Structural survey was OK but tenants report damp after just two weeks

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Structural survey was OK but tenants report damp after just two weeks

I recently posted the ‘Newbie‘ thread so I haven’t been a landlords for very long.

I bought a mid-terrace in December 2014 which, before I bought it, I had a full buildings survey done as I wanted to try, as best I could, to highlight any major things wrong with the property in order to minimise my risk of costly expenses as soon as I’m starting out. Structural survey was OK but tenants report damp after just two weeks

I have today been contacted by my agent, with 3 pictures of damp walls just two weeks after my first tenants moved in. I did not see any damp or wet walls in the period of viewing the property around July right through to before they moved in, so like many of your articles suggest, I’m hoping it is the tenants not ventilating the property properly.

I did take in everything you said about a rainy day fund and I’m currently working on about 9% of debt in terms of liquidity so its not like this is going to ruin me. However, as this is my first property, the prospects of having to spend  ‘£1,000’s on damp proofing’ comes to mind, hence I’m worrying a little.

I read your reply to one damp article in regards to asking the surveyor to view the property again. If I ring them up and explain the issue, do they have to go our and recheck or can they so no unless you pay ‘X amount? I’m worried I’ll ring up and they’ll fob me off, and as I’m not 100% on the matter I’ll just take it as red.

Hope you can help.

Thanks

David Wigley



Comments

Mark Alexander

12:02 PM, 15th February 2015
About 4 years ago

Hi David

I think you should go back to both your conveyancing solicitor and your structural surveyor and politely ask them for some advice.

Have you been to have a look at the property yourself yet? Can you see any obvious causes of condensation, e.g. washing on radiators, windows not open etc.?

Where is the damp forming and is it really damp or condensation?

I think the best way to play this at the moment is to ask polite questions of your professional advisers and see what they have to say.

If I were you, I'd also invite Envirovent to come in and provide a free survey. They provide a money back guarantee to solve the problem. If it does turn out to be an issue with the property as opposed to the tenants lifestyle then you may have recourse to the professional indemnity policy of your surveyor.

The most important thing at this point is that you show your tenant that you are being pro-active. If you don't, you may find that you have environmental health all over you. That's the last thing you want. If your tenant is unhappy they may even stop paying rent and begin making claims against you too. Given that the issue is so early into the tenancy that would also be very bad news as it could be a nightmare to get them out for 6 months, even if it is their lifestyle causing the problems.

If both your surveyor and a company like Envirovent concur that the issues are a result of your tenants lifestyle then at least you will have a strong defence if the problem escalates.

This is really bad luck for your first property but you are where you are and you must deal with it in order to nip the issue in the bud ASAP, regardless of who is at fault. In six months time you will either be very glad you did or very sad you didn't.

Did you purchase professional referencing and a rent guarantee and legal fees insurance when letting your property?
.

All BankersAreBarstewards Smith

13:22 PM, 15th February 2015
About 4 years ago

Find out which rooms the damp is in and if it is on outside walls.... it could be a failure of water goods - fairly cheap to repair. Don't let the agent fob you off... insist on you personally going to do an internal inspection - with or without them

Steven Nicks

22:44 PM, 15th February 2015
About 4 years ago

Hi, i'm not sure if this helps but I've heard that these guys are good if that's the route you need to take? timberwise.co.uk Hope all goes well!

Paul Thomas

14:14 PM, 16th February 2015
About 4 years ago

Belt and braces first before you worry yourself.

Every time I have had damp in houses after new tenants have moved in, it's because they don't open windows, dry clothes on the radiators and have no concept of venting a house.

Talk to them, see where and how they dry clothes. Do they sleep with the windows shut - do they have trickle vents on the windows - are they open ?

Paul

david wigley

14:52 PM, 16th February 2015
About 4 years ago

Thanks for all the advice, really appreciate it.

I have contacted my surveyor and I am waiting for an email back.

I have also been in contact with Envirovent (thanks Mark) and told them the situation and there going to visit the property and assess the affected area.

I totally agree with what your saying about looking like your being pro-active so iv made sure my agent know's that iv contacted both of the above and that I am keen to get this sorted ASAP.

I haven't visited the property myself as I don't really want to meet the tenants face to face that's why I wanted to use an agent as I don't want a hands on approach (maybe that's me being stupid).

I didn't purchase rent guarantee but I'm sure I have legal fee's covered with my insurance. My policy document states
'Legal costs in respect of an alleged
breach of statutory duty under Health
and Safety, Consumer Protection or Food
Safety legislation'

Hopefully it doesn't come to that if i sort the problem quickly.

Thanks again for your help everyone. I am open to all advice and help.

I'm also thinking of joining a Landlords Association, do you recommend the NLA or go for my more local EMPO (Derbyshire).

Thanks

Pat A

15:01 PM, 16th February 2015
About 4 years ago

The cheapest thing to do first is get your self a little machine that measures humidity in the atmosphere. A lot of landlords use these and measure the humidity in the flat in front of the tenant before the tenant moves in and gets them to sign they have seen the meter reading . The ideal reading is 50 or below, any higher than that and you will have damp on the walls and eventually black mold. Its up to the tenant to cure if its caused by un vented tumble drying or steaming cooking etc . They have to change their life style and a de humidifier works well . All the info is on you tube

Mandy Thomson

15:04 PM, 16th February 2015
About 4 years ago

Unfortunately, I've had experience of damp and condensation issues. They seem to co-exist - I personally believe that damp promotes condensation, by forming more water vapour in the air, leading to this being dropped onto interior surfaces from the air in colder conditions (i.e. a low dew point). Of course if this condensation remains on interior surfaces, mould grows.

However, if moisture is coming through the brickwork from outside, salts in the brickwork normally kill mould, so if a wall is merely wet, without mould, this usually indicates damp, not condensation.

I've recently had a PIV filter fitted by Envirovent, and it's bringing down the condensation, however that same property is also suffering a penetrating damp issue, that hasn't yet been put right as the builder isn't sure what's causing it.

Mandy Thomson

15:10 PM, 16th February 2015
About 4 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "patty atkins" at "16/02/2015 - 15:01":

Thanks, Patty - that's a really useful tip and I wasn't aware that such devices were so easily available, though unfortunately, the issues I've described in my comment definitely aren't caused by my tenants' lifestyle.

Joe Bloggs

15:37 PM, 16th February 2015
About 4 years ago

hi patty

interesting idea, but not a whole lot of use as even the best tenant will increase humidity levels compared to an empty house. i suppose though it could be used to argue that there was no rising/penetrating/plumbing leaks when they moved in, but of course these things could happen subsequently.

i periodically inspect and then email advice to my tenants on what they are doing wrong. if they then complain of mould i ask them to clean it off and redecorate, based on my previous warning/advice. sometimes they do this! but if they dont they will find it difficult to sue or withhold rent. ultimately it will come out the deposit if its not remedied and this is spelt out at an early stage.

of course if its not condensation, then its down to me (but it virtually always is).

Pat A

15:37 PM, 16th February 2015
About 4 years ago

HI Mandy ,

This advice was given to me by another landlord.
I did have a tenant who moved into a previously dry property and within weeks was complaining about mold on walls . I lent her a de humidifier and advised her to vent her tumble dryer, Since then she has redecorated and no problems. I give all my new tenants leaflets on mold prevention, how hi humidity causes mold and how to control it with a de humidifier.
They use the de humidifier to dry clothes and don't need a tumble dryer. Its cheaper to run than a tumble dryer ,Dry air makes your home warmer as well

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