Mould in rented accommodation

When you move into a rented house, both you and your landlord will sign a legal agreement that the property will be maintained to a safe living standard by both parties involved.

Mould in your home can not only create an unpleasant and unsightly living environment, but it can also put both yours and your family’s health at risk. If you are living with mould in your house, whether you, or your landlord, is responsible for it can often be a confusing area:

When Is My Landlord Responsible for Dealing with Mould in My Home?

  • If the property is not water-tight and this causes mould. For example: cracked window frames, cracked exterior walls and broken roof tiles.
  • Plumbing issues which result in mould. For example: leaking or ‘sweaty’ pipes, loose fittings etc.

When Is the Tenant Responsible for Dealing with Mould?

  • Inadequately ventilating rooms can lead to mould. For example: steam from hot baths or drying wet clothes indoors can lead to mould issues. Try to always open windows and doors after taking a bath, and dry clothes outdoors where possible.
  • Inadequately heating the home. Over the colder months, a lack of heating can cause condensation which can cause mould to form and grow.

If you believe that you landlord is at fault, it is important that you report any concerns as soon as possible, as landlord obligations clearly state that it is their legal duty to keep the property up to the required standard of living.

How mould can affect your health

Mould in your home can be damaging to both yours, and your family’s, health and wellbeing. Inhaling mould fragments can inflame the airways, causing nasal congestion and can put you more at risk of respiratory problems.

Living with mould can also affect your overall immune system; particularly in young children and vulnerable adults.

Symptoms of exposure to mould may include:

  • Wheezing and excessive coughing
  • Chest tightness and throat irritation
  • Excessive sneezing and a runny nose
  • Asthma attacks.

Is your landlord not fixing issues with damp?

At CEL Solicitors we believe that everyone deserves to live in a safe and well-maintained home, so if your landlord isn’t acting against mould problems, you may be within your rights to claim compensation.

To find out your rights as a tenant contact our expert team of friendly solicitors today on 0808 281 2660 or 0203 893 2499; or email info@celsolicitors.co.uk.

Common questions and advice about mould issues

What is mould?

When it comes to buildings, mould is a type of fungus that forms when moisture stagnates on walls or ceilings and allows black mould and mildew to grow. The ideal conditions for this type of fungus to form and grow are warm and moist rooms, which is why mould is often found in kitchens and bathrooms, but it can also grow in other rooms of the house in some circumstances. Sometimes, you can tell that mould is about to appear before you see any evidence, because of the musty smell that usually accompanies it.

What causes mould on walls?

Mould on walls and ceilings is caused by excess moisture. Sometimes this can come from a leak inside or outside the property that is causing a damp problem, but often mould is caused by condensation inside the home. Once warm and moist air inside a room hits the wall and windows, which are cooler as they are connected to the outside, moisture can start to accumulate on the surface. Mould can form as a result if the moisture is not able to dry out, and with warmth, oxygen and a continuation of more air being quickly cooled when it hits the area, the mould can quickly grow and spread.

This type of problem can be caused or made worse by things such as not opening windows to let air circulate around the room, especially after cooking/bathing/showering, drying laundry inside the house, where the moisture from the clothes is released into the air and adds to the issue, or simply when a home does not have adequate ventilation or insulation in the first place.

Is mould dangerous?

Once mould has started to grow, it can release spores into the room, especially when touched or disturbed, which can not only cause the mould to spread to new areas, but can also cause an allergic reaction in people who breathe them in, or can irritate the skin if they come into contact.

This can result in people with existing respiratory conditions experiencing worsening symptoms, can cause asthma attacks, skin rashes, runny eyes or nose, sneezing fits and similar issues. Long-term exposure to high levels of mould can cause serious health problems for the people living there, and those especially at risk are babies, young children, the elderly or those with existing health problems.

How to clean or remove mould

Unless the root cause of the problem is discovered and rectified, the mould will soon return. So it’s important to do this before removing the visible mould and cleaning the area.

Once you know what caused the mould and have taken steps to ensure that it won’t reoccur, you can usually clean and remove small amounts of mould yourself. An intensive or widespread problem may require professional expert help from mould specialists.

There are specialist mould and mildew sprays available, or you can mix one part bleach to four parts water to make your own cleaning solution. You should always wear gloves, safety goggles and a dust mask when cleaning mould so that any spores released do not come into contact with the skin and are not inhaled.

You can use a damp cloth to scrub the area, drying with a soft cloth afterwards.

How to get rid of a mould smell

Once the mould or mildew that is causing the smell has been dealt with and the area cleaned, the smell may still remain in the room to a lesser extent. There are a number of things you can do to help this smell to dissipate as quickly as possible.

  • Open all possible windows in the room and get the air circulating. A fan may also help with this if the window alone isn’t doing enough
  • Wash any fabrics in the room, including curtains, bedding, clothing etc.
  • Surface clean any upholstered furniture and wipe any hard furniture with an anti-fungal solution to ensure no mould spores remain
  • Vacuum the floor thoroughly and use a carpet washer if possible to ensure a really deep clean
  • Use bicarbonate of soda in small bowls or containers around the room to help absorb unwanted odours.

How to stop mould from coming back

The right way to tackle the problem will depend on the specific cause of the mould in the first place.

If the issue is a leak internally or damp coming through from the outside, once the mould has been cleaned and the leak or damp fixed then the problem shouldn’t return.

If the problem was caused by excess condensation within the home, there are several steps you can take:

  • Open windows regularly to allow air to circulate in all rooms
  • Use dehumidifiers
  • Spread out shower curtains to dry after use to minimise the chances of mould or mildew growing on them. If the shower is screened, wipe the screen dry after use.
  • Use an extractor fan when cooking or taking baths/showers if fitted in the kitchen/bathroom
  • Don’t dry your laundry indoors whenever possible, and ensure appliances such as tumble dryer are properly vented, with the warm, damp air being sent directly outside. For condenser dryers, the room must be well ventilated to use.

If your landlord is not dealing with a serious mould issue that you have reported to them, you might be eligible to make a claim for compensation. Contact CEL Solicitors on 0808 281 2660 or 0203 893 2499; or email info@celsolicitors.co.uk, to find out more.