This month: what’s to be done about damp in a rented property?

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A local expert from Citizen’s Advice provides timely tips on consumer issues.

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Q: “As the weather has turned colder, I’ve noticed mould and damp in our flat. It’s mainly in our bedroom, including some black mould on the carpet. I’ve been chasing our letting agents, who say they’ll speak to our landlord. I’m really worried about how this might affect our health. Our tenancy agreement isn’t up for eight months. Is there anything else I can do?”

A: “It’s good that you’ve already raised the issue with your letting agency. Unfortunately, it isn’t always easy to work out the cause of mould or damp, which can make it difficult to establish who is responsible, unless there’s an obvious cause, like a leaking roof. There is information on our website that may help you work out what type of damp you have, who is responsible for fixing the problem and what you can do. Check your tenancy agreement for mentions of repairs and damp, and contact Citizens Advice on anything you’re unsure about. A landlord will have to act in relation to damp if it makes the property unsafe for someone to live in or if it is making the tenant or a member of their family ill.
The landlord will be responsible if the damp is related to property maintenance or to repairs they should have carried out, for example if gutters are broken or pipes are leaking. If the damp has damaged items for which the landlord is responsible for, such as carpets and window frames, they’ll likely have to cover the cost of repairs.

Making it worse
One of the most common causes of damp is condensation. To prevent this, it’s important to keep homes well-heated and well-ventilated, but for a lot of people this will be trickier to do given the colder weather and higher heating costs. You may be eligible for help to insulate and heat your home, and should visit our website to find out more. We also have advice on things that can make damp worse and may prevent the landlord taking responsibility for repairs. These include drying clothes on heaters or blocking air vents.
If your landlord is responsible for the damp in your property but doesn’t act, there are steps you can take, such as reporting them to the local authority. If you’re in social housing, you might also be able to use the landlord’s formal complaints procedure. There is more information about this on our website. If it reaches the point where you want to get out of a fixed-term tenancy agreement early, do speak to an adviser first, as there might be better ways to approach the issue. Contact your local Citizens Advice or you can call our Adviceline on 0800 144 8848 for personalised support.”

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