What to do if you find damp in your rented home this winter

If you rent your home, you have certain responsibilities with regard to upkeep and your landlord also has a set of obligations that they must stick to when it comes to maintaining and repairing the property. When you move into your home at the start of the tenancy, it should be free from any kind of damp; however, as time goes on, sometimes damp can start to develop in a property and it’s important to know what to do if you find it in your rented home.

If your home has damp, it can not only be unsightly, smelly and inconvenient, it can also have health implications if you have to live with it for a while, especially for those with existing respiratory problems, the elderly or babies and young children. The type of damp that it is will dictate whether it is your responsibility or your landlord’s to resolve, as some damp can be related to structural issues and some can be caused by things that may be within the control of tenants.

Condensation damp and mould

This is the most common type of damp and is usually preventable by tenants taking a few measures to minimise moisture indoors. Condensation occurs when warm moisture from inside the home (from breathing, using hot water e.g. baths and showers, drying laundry indoors etc.) hits a cold surface, like a wall or window. If the moisture cannot escape then mould can start to grow, which is why this type of damp is often found on the inside of external walls and windows, or in bathrooms.

Tenants are expected to take steps to reduce the chances of this type of damp forming themselves, by regularly opening windows to help ventilate the home, shutting internal doors when showering or bathing, and drying laundry outside whenever possible. However, in some cases, there may be a deeper issue with the property, such as inadequate ventilation or windows that cannot be opened, which mean that the landlord might need to take action to make repairs or provide tenants with dehumidifiers to help solve the problem.

Penetrating damp

This is damp that appears on the inside of a home due to moisture penetrating from outside. This could be caused by a number of different things, including issues with the roof that means water is being allowed inside, broken guttering or external pipework causing water to run down a wall instead of inside a pipe, or worn brickwork and pointing allowing rainwater to soak through from outdoors. As this type of damp is the result of an issue with the building structure, it is the landlord’s responsibility to work out the root cause, fix it and make good any decoration that has been ruined by the damp, or replace any of the tenants’ personal belongings that have been damaged because of it.

Rising damp

This is damp that is drawn into the property from the ground around it, because a damp-proof course has not been done or has failed. It’s usually easy to tell if damp in your home is rising damp because it starts at the bottom of the property and leaves ‘tide marks’ on the walls as the moisture rises.  Again, as this type of damp is related to a structural problem, it is always the responsibility of the landlord to fix the problem and arrange for any necessary redecoration.

Click here for more tips on diagnosing the type of damp that has appeared in your home.

What to do when you find damp

As soon as you spot damp in your rented home, you should contact your landlord straight away to report it and take pictures of the problem. Taking pictures at this point is important because it will help to show if the problem is getting worse over time, and if there is a date stamp on the image, this can also be useful information to have for later, especially if your landlord doesn’t fix the problem within a reasonable amount of time.

What if my landlord isn’t fixing the damp in my home?

Under law, your landlord has a ‘reasonable’ amount of time to make repairs to your home after the problem has been reported. With an issue such as damp, which is often worse in the winter and can have health implications for tenants if left unresolved, your landlord should make it a priority.

If you don’t feel that your landlord has taken your damp problem seriously, or they have not made attempts to repair the issue within a reasonable amount of time, you may be eligible to make a claim against them. A successful claim would mean that the landlord is ordered by a court to carry out the necessary repairs and works, and you may also receive compensation if you, or another member of the household have suffered, been injured or made ill by the disrepair, or if any of your personal belongings have been damaged by it.

For more information about making a claim against your landlord for not fixing the damp in your rented home, or any other disrepair issue, contact CEL Solicitors for a free claim assessment, on 0809 281 2660.