Condensation and Mould 1st Dec 2016

A recent study by Help-Link has found that in Scotland, 21% of tenants are living in a house that is damp, and a tenth don’t have working heating. According to the same survey, once these issues were raised with the landlord, it took an average of 7 and half weeks to deal with the problem.

We have had a chilly start to winter already, and it is vital that you protect your property. Pipes should be checked for breaks, leaks and blockages and boilers should be serviced annually, along with the legally required annual gas safety check, and electrical safety checks. Heating problems should be dealt with immediately, to safeguard your property and provide an acceptable home for your tenants.

The Key Place provides tenants with the following advice on preventing condensation and mould, and will look for this during routine inspections. Taking all reasonable steps to keep the property heated and ventilated to stop the build-up of condensation and mould is a contractual requirement of the tenancy agreement.

This occurs when moisture in the air cools and tiny water droplets appear on surfaces. This usually happens during cold weather and appears on cold surfaces and places where there is little movement of air, such as in corners of rooms or near windows, or behind furniture. If left untreated, black mould will begin to grow. There are 3 main causes of condensation:

• Rooms are inadequately heated which creates lots of cold surfaces upon which condensation can form.
• Too much moisture is produced when cooking, washing, showering, clothes drying etc which results in moisture laden warm air which will lead to condensation forming in the coldest parts of the house.
• Inadequate ventilation in the rooms where the steam is produced, eg. bathrooms and kitchens. The steam has nowhere to escape to in the house, especially if there is sealed double glazing and no open chimney, so will condense on cold surfaces.

Through the daily routine of showers, baths, boiling kettles, cooking, drying clothes and breathing, 1 person will produce approximately 4 pints of water per day and ventilation is needed to remove this from the home.

How to prevent condensation:
By following the 10 simple steps below, tenants can considerably reduce condensation by producing less moisture and keeping the rental property well ventilated and heated.

• Maintain a minimum temperature (18 degrees C) in all rooms, especially bedrooms and bathrooms
• Minimise the amount of steam produced when cooking and washing by using the extractor fan, or opening a window if there is no fan. Confine steam to the room in which it is produced by keeping doors closed.
• Wipe down walls, fixtures, fittings, furnishings with mould remover, diluted bleach or sugar soap to clear condensation.
• Keep the bathroom door closed during and after showering or bathing. Use the extractor fan if there is one and/or open the window.
• Dry clothes outside or in a room with the window open and the door shut. Vent tumble driers outside if they are not condenser versions.
• Keep all rooms ventilated by slightly opening windows and keeping doors shut, particularly when the room is in use. Double glazed units often have trickle vents fitted which should be left open to help release moisture and prevent it spreading round the property.
• Airbricks or window vents must not be blocked.
• Close the bedroom door when going to bed and keep a small window ajar, or open the window and keep the door closed for a couple of hours after getting up to get rid of moisture produced overnight.
• Don’t place wardrobes or other large items of furniture directly against external walls. Trapped air can lead to a build-up of surface condensation and mould. Space should be left between the back of furniture and the wall to let air circulate. Wardrobe doors should be left open slightly. Floor mounted furniture can be put on blocks to let air circulate underneath.
• Open a window and shut the doors of any rooms affected by condensation.

Getting rid of mould:
If left untreated, condensation can cause mould to grow. This can be removed by washing affected surfaces with a fungicidal mould remover / diluted bleach / sugar soap. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions.

If tenants have allowed the build-up of condensation and mould through their actions, then they will be required to pay for any treatment and to put right any damage. It is essential that landlords have a detailed inventory in order to evidence the condition of the property at the start of the tenancy, compared to the condition of the property at check out.

If mould is appearing as a result of a structural fault, then it is essential landlords take action. The Key Place will advise our fully managed landlords if this is the case, and can arrange works on your behalf as required.