How to know if there is structural damage to your home

If you rent your home, whether it’s with a private landlord, housing association or local council, any structural issues are legally the responsibility of the landlord to repair, and they have a duty of care to ensure that the home you live in is structurally safe. Whilst at the beginning of a tenancy there should be no obvious signs of structural damage, sometimes issues can develop over time and little things can start to show that something isn’t quite right. As a tenant, it’s your responsibility to report any problems you spot to your landlord as quickly as possible, so that repairs can be carried out.  This blog gives you some of the most common signs of structural damage to help you know what to look out for.

Cracks in walls or ceiling

Most houses have some small hairline cracks that don’t cause any issues, but if you notice new or large cracks, especially horizontal ones, appearing inside or outside the property, this can be a symptom of much more serious structural problems. You should report this to your landlord straight away.

Bowing or bulging walls

It’s not always obvious when facing front-on, but viewing walls side-on should show up any bulges or bowing in walls, usually external. This could be a sign that cavity wall ties need replacing, or that there are other structural issues at play. If any of your home’s walls show signs of this, or if windows or doors suddenly don’t seem to close as they used to, you need to report this to your landlord as soon as possible.

Damp

There are different kinds of damp, with different causes and remedies, and some are more serious than others.

Penetrating damp is where moisture is soaking through the walls or ceiling from outside, resulting in visible water marks indoors and often leading to the growth of damp and mould, flaking paint or peeling wallpaper, and a musty smell. This type of damp is usually a result of brickwork, guttering or window frames that require repair work, which is your landlord’s responsibility to arrange.

Condensation damp is caused by moisture in the air inside the home. When it hits the cooler walls or other areas, condensation can form and lead to mould and mildew growth. Avoiding this type of damp is the responsibility of the tenant, and it can usually be fended off by opening windows regularly to improve airflow through the property, not drying laundry indoors and using dehumidifiers if necessary.

Rising damp is when moisture is coming in through the ground around the foundations of the home. This is caused by a lack or failure of a damp proof membrane between the building and the surrounding land. It usually displays itself as ‘tide marks’ on the wall, from the bottom upwards. If you spot this type of damp in your home, you should inform your landlord immediately.

As well as the above signs of structural issues, your landlord has many other responsibilities when it comes to ensuring that tenants have a safe place to live. If you don’t think that you landlord is taking essential repairs seriously, you can contact CEL Solicitors for free initial advice on your options.