Diagnosing damp problems in your rented property

Damp is one of the most common types of issues that renters encounter, and the type of damp that it is will determine who is responsible for dealing with it and what needs to be done to resolve the problem. Damp, and the mould that often follows, isn’t just unsightly, but can also be a health hazard, especially to the very young, elderly, or anyone with an existing respiratory condition or allergies. If the root cause of a damp problem isn’t repaired, the issues will get worse and can cause substantial damage both to the property and to belongings over time. Therefore, it’s vital to determine what is causing the damp so that it can be fixed as quickly as possible, for the benefit of everyone.


One common issue that many households encounter, especially during the colder months of the year, is condensation mould. This type of damp occurs when moisture in the air comes into contact with a cold surface; often a window or wall. If the moisture has nowhere to go because it’s in a poorly ventilated area, it will become a breeding ground for mould, usually appearing as dark dots on walls or around windows.

Condensation can be caused by everyday activities, such as cooking, showering and drying clothes. It is the responsibility of the tenant to take reasonable steps to stop their normal activities from causing condensation to form. It is the landlord’s responsibility to ensure that disrepair in the home isn’t causing the condensation e.g. a heating system is broken or windows do not open.

Some of the steps that tenants can take to help reduce moisture in the air are:

  • Opening windows for a few minutes every morning
  • Using an extractor fan in bathrooms and kitchens
  • Leaving a gap for air to circulate between furniture and external walls
  • Closing internal doors when cooking
  • Drying clothes outside when possible, or using a vented tumble dryer

Penetrating damp

Penetrating damp is usually caused by water seeping through walls or the roof, although it can also occur if there is a plumbing problem or an internal leak somewhere. It often shows as damp patches higher up on walls or in the top corner of rooms. It can be caused by things like faulty or broken guttering and drainage pipes, or damage to the roof, causing excess water to flow repeatedly across a wall or an exterior part of the house that is not designed for it.

In a rented home, landlords are responsible for ensuring that repairs are made whatever is causing the penetrating damp problem. They may need to call in experts to diagnose where exactly the problem is.

Rising damp

Rising damp is just how it sounds, when moisture from the ground around and underneath a home soaks into the building and causes damp and mould to grow on the walls. It can usually be diagnosed by tell-tale ‘tide marks’ on the walls of a basement or ground floor, where the damp is rising up.

The landlord of a rented home is responsible for repairing the damage caused by the damp and the property may require a damp proof course installing to prevent the problem from reoccurring.

If you live in a rented home that is showing signs of damp and your landlord does not seem to be taking your complaints seriously, you may be able to make a claim against them to ensure the necessary repairs are carried out. In some cases, additional compensation can also be claimed, especially if anyone in your household has suffered illness or injury because of the damp or mould. Contact CEL Solicitors for a free claim assessment and to discuss your options, on 0808 273 0900 or 0203 925 4551.