Tag Archives: Damp

Dehumidifiers may reduce energy costs as well as solve damp issues Latest Articles, UK Property Forum for Buy to Let Landlords

For landlords with tenants who do all the wrong things and cause condensation and damp problems this can be a nightmare because tenants often argue that de-humidifiers increase their fuel bills, even if landlords offer to provide one. Here is a counter argument which you may care to use if you have this problem this winter.

Not only is wet air more expensive than dry air to heat, but also high humidity makes a house feel colder than it actually is, so people set thermostat levels higher than they need to. A dehumidifier removes this humidity, and so can help cut energy bills. Dehumidifiers may reduce energy costs as well as solve damp issues

It is also worth noting that damp also exacerbates health problems, and this is even more of an issue in winter. As condensation builds in windows due to damp air, the growth of mould is more common.  Mould and damp can worsen asthma, irritate eyes, nose and throat, and cause sinus congestion, headaches, common colds and tonsillitis – all illnesses experienced more around the winter season.

So, as energy companies increase prices this winter, more and more households are turning to dehumidifiers to combat rising energy bills and stay healthy.


Housing Bubble fears – genuine or an overreaction? Latest Articles, Property News

There has been a great deal of commentary in the press the last couple of days raising fears of a housing bubble.

Rightmove increased its forecast for the year from 4% to 6% leading to headlines calling for government to do something about concerns of a debt fuelled crisis in the housing market.

Yes prices are rising, but we are seeing sustained recovery for the first time since the credit crisis outside the economic microcosm of London?

It is this recovery for most of the country, in areas where prices have fallen or been static for a long time and not just one area, that has surely seen the forecast rise recently.

Rightmove report asking prices in London are up 8.2% on a year ago with:

West Midlands up 6.8%

South East  up 5.6%

Wales up 3.8 %

East Anglia up 0.8%

The North 0%

Yorkshire and Humberside fell 1.3%.

Overall in the UK asking prices are 4.5% higher than this time last year and have increased on average by £16,000 so far in 2013.

So the questionare:-

  • are we right to be worried?
  • what factors are involved
  • and can we do anything about it?

First of all we need to consider what is really causing prices to rise. Is it demand lead where we are all earning more money, unemployment is down and mortgages are easier to obtain?

Alternatively is it the lack of supply in new housing that is putting the upward pressure on prices?

In terms of industry sector contribution to GDP (Gross Domestic product – the output of the economy) it is the building industry that suffered the worst during the recession and is taking the longest to recover.

In terms of scale, the supply side of new housing has suffered more than any recovery in the economy recently, so it may be this which is the biggest factor for the country as a whole. However, in London there have been many reports that foreign money, especially from Arab states and China, is being invested into the London housing market and could be an external factor fuelling demand lead increases that we can’t control.

At some point limiting factors such as purchasers income and the size of deposits required will come into play with income multipliers and maximum LTVs only able to sustain a certain level of house prices before demand slows back down. This is where regulation of lending could dampen an over heating market putting in place restrictions on lending criteria.

One of the biggest and most immediate fears of property investors is the Bank of England increasing the Bank Base Rate to curb any house price inflation. This is now less likely as the BofE are no longer just targeting inflation levels, but also have the wider remit of encouraging the growth of GDP. Therefore it is less likely that they would consider harming the recovery by increasing interest rates, and more likely that they would look to use regulation of lending to control this specific inflationary pressure.

The Bank of England’s Financial Policy Committee will meet tomorrow, when it will reportedly discuss the issue of a housing bubble and what action it could take.

I certainly see no evidence that we need to panic yet, but it would be very interesting to get readers thoughts on this subject.Housing Bubble


Key Property (UK) Ltd fined £47k for damp unlicensed HMO Buy to Let News, Cautionary Tales, Landlord News, Latest Articles, Letting, Lettings & Management, Property Investment News, Property Maintenance, Property Market News, Property News

A letting agent who rented out a damp, dangerous and dilapidated property received a hefty fine following a successful council prosecution. Key Property fined £74k for damp and unlicenced HMO

Key Property (UK) Ltd of 47 Bell Road, Hounslow, who trade under the name Key Solutions and Key Lettings, were fined £42,500, on top of costs and compensation worth £5,040, at Feltham Magistrates Court after being found guilty of 15 housing offences.

The offences related to a property on Cromwell Street, Hounslow, which the council investigated following complaints from tenants in July last year.

Officers inspecting the property found seven tenants living at the property, in five separate bedrooms, which included the front and rear living rooms.

They discovered a significant number of defects relating to excess cold, damp and mould, electrical hazards, problems with sanitation and drainage, security, fire safety, structural hazards and hygiene.

A boiler that had been turned off by the manufacturer due to its unsafe installation had been switched back on.

It was also discovered that the property was a house in multiple occupation (HMO) and required a license to be let out to tenants. Having a license would mean the property was being managed well, and was suitable for occupation.

Cllr Steve Curran, cabinet member for housing, planning and regeneration at the council said:

“The fact the fine for failing to have an HMO license is one of the largest in the country shows the seriousness of the offences.

“I’m pleased magistrates have thrown the book at this criminal letting agent, as the conditions the tenants were living in – no fire alarms, dangerous gas and electrics, and some of the worst damp and mould our officers have ever seen – were, frankly, appalling.

“They took more than £24,000 in rent from these tenants and left them to live in squalor.

“They tried to avoid their legal responsibilities, but thanks to the hard work of our housing team, we were able to successfully prosecute them.”

Key Property were found guilty of 15 housing offences at Feltham Magistrates Court on Wednesday, 4 September.

The offences, fines and costs awarded were:

  • Managing an unlicensed HMO: £15,000 fine
  • Supplying false information: £5,000 fine
  • 3 offences relating to management of the property: £22,500 fine
  • Compensation to tenants: £600
  • Victim surcharge: £120
  • Council’s legal costs: £4,320

The director of Key Property (UK) Ltd is Mrs Adibah Uddin, and the company secretary is Mr Iftikhar Uddin


Retaliatory eviction – possibility of civil litigation? Latest Articles, UK Property Forum for Buy to Let Landlords

We’re a professional couple with a limited company which provides a technology solution to the NHS. It suits our circumstances to rent at this moment in time. Retaliatory eviction

We had a 4-year rental of a lovely apartment until last Summer, when the owner decided to downsize and move back into the property. It was a good relationship, we had treated the property as if it had been our own investment and we parted as friends – with our deposit paid back in full.

After much searching we found a 3-bed town house which appeared to offer us everything we needed. The letting agent was a member of NAEA/ARLA and appeared to be respectable. There were some agreed remedial works to be dealt with and we were given assurances that these would be attended to in due course. We moved into the property in late August 2012.

Sadly, by the beginning of November, it was apparent that the property had some significant problems. There was extensive water penetration upstairs and a rising damp problem to the ground floor. The letting agent was informed immediately, with photographic evidence and a request for urgent assistance. We moved our furniture from the 3rd bedroom.

A ‘trades-person’ appeared in due course, with a notepad and pencil but with no damp meter. A report was promised, but was not forthcoming. The letting agent promised to send another contractor. This one only worked weekends and couldn’t agree a time to call; that visit never took place.

I called the landlords contractor to arrange the remedial work to be completed – missing doors, exposed wires, etc. He visited early November, measured up, made notes, promised to return – but failed.

We spent the most horrendous Christmas and New Year in the house. There was serious damp penetration, black mould which was constantly being removed. Slugs were climbing the walls. The house was very cold and the more that we heated it – the worse the damp became. We telephoned, wrote, sent photographs, yet the letting agent did nothing; there were plenty of replies – unbelievably stating that they were attempting to do everything as quickly as possible. We initially resigned ourselves to getting out of the house at the end of our AST.

In early-February, I wrote the strongest letter to letting agent with photos. A survey was made by Peter Cox, a pretty damning report which agreed with our complaint – serious damp and rain penetration. I wrote again, asking for compensation and a reduction in rent. This was refused. The letting agent had said that the landlord was absent; it transpired this wasn’t the case.

We tracked the landlord down and demanded a meeting. The landlord appeared, agreed with us in full and said that it was the first he knew of the problem. He agreed that we should be compensated and that this was the letting agents responsibility. Our landlord sat in our home, apologising and promised us both that this would be resolved. He remarked how clean we kept the property. The next day he had changed his mind and said that our grievance was with the letting agent. The following day – the EHO (Environmental Health Officer) inspected. That week, the missing doors and exposed electrics were attended to. We sent 2 requests to the letting agent, for the landlords address – these were refused.

A week later we received a section 21 notice to quit. The landlords address was given as c/o a family member in the South – presumably to thwart a legal action by us.

It turned out that the landlord had known of the problems. He’d applied for a grant for roof insulation, in my name – without my knowledge – and prior to our first meeting. It transpired that the letting agents were not members of ARLA or NAEA and we contacted both organisations and Rightmove to get these false affiliations removed. The letting agent claimed an oversight.

We spoke with our MP who has written to the CEO of the local authority, in order to push the EHO. The EHO wrote to the letting agent and the landlord but there was no response. We then began to receive threats from the letting agent to enter the property to inspect and allow viewings; we made a formal complaint to the Police and this is logged with a fast-track number in the event that they continue. We threatened to change the locks and the letting agent replied that this was not necessary.

We defended the section 21 notice on the grounds of incorrect dates and continued to pay the rent. We were not going to be forced out and subjected to costs or inconvenience due to their incompetence. The weather had improved and the house was drying out for the summer and we would tough it out now – having gone through the worst. We have since redecorated all damp affected walls as it is unnecessary to be reminded every day.

Our MP has pushed for resolution; this has mustered a stronger letter from the EHO. There has been no response other than a second section 21 notice. The dates are once again incorrect. The letting agent has put our deposit into a DPS but did not provide the Deposit Protection Certificate or prescribed information until we requested it after five months of tenancy. The prescribed information appears to be incomplete. I doubt that any s21 is valid until deposit is returned and the landlord might be liable for 3x under the Localism Act? Our claim should also be for a reduction in rent back-dated to 11/2012 and should provide compensation for immense stress and upset – particularly to my wife – for the repeated inconvenience, small damage, etc.

We’ve spoken with experts in Landlord/Tenant issues, they’ve seen our file which is very complete and have passed it onto Barristers to evaluate. We have a strong case apparently, but would incur costs of circa £7k to seek compensation/enforcement of duty to repair; we’ve been told that there is little likelihood of being awarded costs – if successful. That’s an expensive ‘point of principle’ for us.

It seems a dreadful situation. We actually like the house and the worst of the problems could be so easily resolved. We must now consider vacating the property before the bad weather sets in again – to remain longer would weaken any case against the landlord and the letting agent. The landlord is inexperienced and his conduct and concern for our welfare has been quite despicable. The promises that he made to my wife and I were instantly forgotten and we would like to do whatever might be done, so that he is taught the lesson.

Please accept our apologies for the long post, is there anything that we could do, other than what the landlord and letting agent expects – that being to vacate and walk away? I feel that someone needs to make a stand here, to create some solid case law if necessary – to protect others faced with similar problems in the future.

Thanks in advance

Roy and Tania


Party Wall Damp Ingress Latest Articles, UK Property Forum for Buy to Let Landlords

I own a 1900’s end terraced house that had some damp / water ingress via the defective chimney stack on the gable end, the chimney stack has been removed as the water was travelling down the gable wall and showing as damp on the internal wall and chimney breast (its a solid wall, not cavity), this should fix the problem after some drying out time.Party Wall Damp Ingress

The problem is whilst the roofer was on the roof they noticed the neighbouring chimney stack situated over the party wall was also defective, not dangerous but defective flashings and defective flaunching so water was also leaking in, this is travelling down the party wall and presenting itself as damp on my internal party wall causing bad damp patches, staining and wall paper to peel off.

I have on 5 occasions called round to the neighbouring house and no one has answered although they have been in, lights on and windows open etc, they clearly avoid opening the door, no reason why, ive never met them or spoken to them or had any reason to as I have just bought the house. I checked land registry to get owners name and hand delivered a letter just asking they call me about the chimney, I even offered to pay for the work, quoted £80.00, they have still not contacted me after 2 weeks, I realise the house may be let and tenants may not be bothered.

The roofer refused to fix it on site without permission from the owner.

what can I do next to prevent further water ingress ? I dont want to cause any hassle but its annoying and needs fixing.

Thanks for your anticipated advices……

Oliver


Dont panic, woodworm wont make your house fall down Latest Articles

woodworm wont make your house fall downHave you ever wondered why old wood worm holes are often visible in floor boards  yet there is no history of treatment? Probably not but I will tell you anyway. Woodworm (of which there are many forms from common furniture to the dreaded deathwatch beetle) eventually dies off when the wood dries and provided the building is appropriately maintained, there is no reason why any widespread infestation should recur.  Of course, areas that are potentially in contact with dampness could remain at risk and these can be addressed by eliminating the source of moisture. In some instances it is impossible to do so entirely, for example where timbers are embedded into the walls. Continue reading Dont panic, woodworm wont make your house fall down


Landlords: how to counter tenants’ complaints about damp Latest Articles

Complaint about dampHow often have you had a tenant complain about damp patches or mould? You may even have had builders or specialists in to fix the problem, only to find that the come back again.

Unless you have worked out exactly what is causing the dampness and mould  in the first place, than all a builder can really do is mask the problem for a few weeks or months – it will come back. Yet damp problems can often be resolved completely by taking very simple steps, without the need to pay for major works –often just opening a window will suffice, if you’ve been able to trace the problem to condensation.
Continue reading Landlords: how to counter tenants’ complaints about damp


Robert Desbruslais of AskASurveyor Brighton GOOD Landlords Campaign Sponsors

The GOOD Landlords CampaignRobert Desbruslais of AskASurveyor Brighton

I am neither of the above, however I do want to support The GOOD Landlords Campaign and welcome the opportunity to network with members

www.askasurveyor.co.uk is a unique online service for anyone with concerns about property defects, conflicting advice from builders, “specialists” suggesting expensive damp or timber treatments, mortgage valuation problems or concerns about workmanship.

For £40, a fraction of the usual cost, you can ask a fully qualified chartered surveyor, registered with the RICS, your question and upload any pictures or files to help clarify the matter. You and the surveyor will then enter a private correspondence until your question has been satisfactorily answered. If for any reason we can’t resolve the issue, you will be refunded. Practical, independent advice you can’t afford NOT to have.

Continue reading Robert Desbruslais of AskASurveyor Brighton


Is he a landlord? Landlord News, Latest Articles, Property News, UK Property Forum for Buy to Let Landlords

Is he a landlord?My partner’s ex-wife & their son reside in the ex-marital home, courtesy of the divorce agreement. She is required to maintain it & keep it in the (good) condition it was in when he vacated in 2006. This situation will remain until 2016.

Anecdotally, we know that the property is not being maintained, internally or externally, and we have just discovered that the gas boiler broke down & has not been used for at least a year. They keep warm with halogen heaters (we have been told) but we have no knowledge of how the water is heated, if at all.

My partner is not allowed any access to the property, unless by invitation, to check the situation but is concerned that he could be viewed as ‘landlord’ and be liable for things like gas safety. His ex-wife will not ‘invite’ him inside but from the doorstep we can smell damp when the front door is opened.

For info, the property has a small o/s interest only mortgage. Ex-wife supplies a certificate of buildings insurance annually. Mortgage is is my partner’s sole name.

Thank you

Sharon Jones


Agent’s breach or tenant’s breach? Please HELP!! Landlord News, Latest Articles, Property News, UK Property Forum for Buy to Let Landlords

Who is to blame?Our tenants moved in with pets (ferret, cat and a dog) even though we had advised our letting agents that we would not allow tenants to keep pets.

We discovered our tenants little zoo when we arrived a month after they moved in to fix a problem with their kitchen taps. We Immediately informed the agent, who said they did not know about their pets. They duly sent them a letter to inform them they were in breach of tenancy agreement and liable for any damage.

We requested for a top up deposit to cover for any possible adverse damage to the property. However, after months and months of chasing to no avail, their excuse was unless we sort our the damp issues in the house (we found that it was because they left the air vent closed with not adequate ventilation, forming moulds around the house), they will not be willing to pay the top up deposit. Continue reading Agent’s breach or tenant’s breach? Please HELP!!


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