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Tenants legal help – condensation and damp

damp houseDamp can be a big problem in rented property. It is unpleasant and can cause health problems. What should you do about it?

Probably the most important thing is to try to find out the cause of the problem. There are three main culprits:

  • A structural defect, such as a lack of damp-proof course, or poor ventilation. Here the landlord may be held responsible under the Housing Health and Safety Rating System.
  • Damage to the structure or exterior of the property, for example to the walls or roof. Here your landlord will be responsible for putting the property into repair under his statutory repairing covenants in section 11 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985.
  • You! Dampness can also come from condensation caused by tenants drying clothes indoors and not heating the rooms properly. In which case it will be you who are responsible for the condensation and damp.

It is important that you find out what the cause is. If, for example it is caused by you, then you need to be careful, as you may be held liable for any damage caused.

If the damp is due to the landlords failure to comply with his repairing covenants, then you may be able to bring proceedings in the county court for an injunction to get the work done and compensation. This is complex work though (for example you will need to comply with a pre action protocol first), so you will need a solicitor. Many will be prepared to act on a no win no fee basis.

However if the cause is a structural defect, this is not covered by the landlords repairing covenants. The only course of action open to you is to get your Local Authority to carry out an inspection under the Housing Health and Safety Rating System. If they consider the problem to be serious they can serve an improvement notice on your landlord ordering him to carry out remedial works.

See more help for tenants on Landlord Law.

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26 Responses to Tenants legal help – condensation and damp

  1. I was recently a tenant in a horrendous damp, mouldy flat. My clothes, books, furniture retc. were ruined and I became ill. My neighbour in the adjoining property died of respiratory problems (black mould poisoning?) I moved out and lost my deposit. I took the landlord to court for compensation and for not registering my deposit. However, the judge just dismissed the case saying there was nothing in the lease to say that the landlord was responsible for repairs or for damp etc. and re. the deposit he said the landlord had just forgotten!

  2. Sorry to hear that Joni. I sounds as if the Judge dismissed your case incorrectly – not all of them understand landlord and tenant law. You do not need to have any clause in the tenancy agreement, the landlords obligations are set out in s11 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985. The Judge should have known that.

    If you can, I suggest you appeal the decision. You may be able to find a firm of solicitors willing to act on a no win no fee basis – try my referral service:

    Or if you want to apply for our deposit claim service the solicitors who do that may be willing to help with an appeal on that and on your other case:

  3. Thank you very much Tessa,but I have already tried your referral service and been told that I am out of time as it is now more than two weeks. I was not advised by the court that I had the right to appeal, nor that there is a time restriction. Joni

  4. I am a landlord and have a tenant who is complaining of condensation in the bedroom. I have never had a problem in this flat before. The flat has a good working central heating system and I have stressed to them that they need to have adequate heating in the room, but they tell me they cant afford to put their heating on. They were putting the bed against the wall which also caused damp on the wall. Is there anything else i can do or get them to do to rid this problem.
    They do keep the electric fire on all day that heats just the kitchen lounge. Would it cost much more to run the central heating. It has 2 bedrooms.

  5. It sounds to me as if the problem you want to get rid of is your tenants.

    Tell them that they need to heat the house properly as previous tenants did, who had no problems.

    You could also add that if there is any structural or other damage caused to the property as a result of their failure to look after it, you will hold them financially responsible.

  6. I have contacted my landlord on numerous occasions now and been promised that repairs to the house would be seen to but nothing has been done. When I moved in insurance companies were coming round to measure up the fron door as it had been crow barred by the previous tenant, the bathroom tiles are loose on the bathroom wall and so water is leaking into my lounge, these were noticed when i moved in 3 years ago and nothing has been done. Also over a year ago now my gas fire was ripped out by the landlord as it was leaking carbon monoxide this was just before the snow period .. it is now coming into another snow period i have a 1 year old and a 7 year old and i still have no fire just a big black hole in the wall. My landlord claims my tiny heater in the lounge is sufficient enough despite us having to sit in blankets and layers of clothes due the radiator only being just over a metre wide my lounge is 15 foot by 13 foot easily and one wall is just a huge french door. ?? I have tried phoning emailing and writing to my landlord i have copies of my emails and the phone calls are registered on my bill but i have just been completely ignored is there anything i can do?? … I am now practically having to move out of my home as it making my whole family ill!!

  7. Have a word with the Housing Officer at your Local Authority and see if they can get someone out to do an inspection.

    • I already spoke to them and they said i needed to speak to the landlord in which i have tried … so I contacted them again and they said they had tried to contact the landlord and the landlord had told them things were in the process of being fixed but this still hasnt happened

  8. They may be trying to fob you off because they are so busy and have limited staff to deal with things. This is going to happen more and more with all the cuts to LA budgets.

    Get in touch with your local Councillor – you can find out who they are by contacting the Local Authority switchboar – and ask them to help. That is what they are there for.

    You could also consider making a formal complaint saying that the LA is not dealing with your case properly. The LA should have leaflets telling you how to make a complaint.

    The Housing Officer / EHO needs to get out there and do an inspection.

    • Thank you I will contact them today … I am moving house because of all of this but not until next year and so I still need adequate living arrangements in the mean time.

  9. Hi i have been living in my house for 2 months and have noticed in the last month i have had quite a lot of mould and damp. I am 27 weeks pregnant and am having problems with my chest. I have contacted my landlord several times and she keeps saying she’s sending somebody out but i have heard nothing from her. I am on a 6 month contract so cannot move until march 2011 but need this sorting for my babies health. What can i do?

  10. we have been in a rented 1st floor flat (previously a shop converted into residences, we have the old shopkeepers flat) in the winter of our first year we had a terrible condensation problem/mould. the backs of furniture went mouldy and i had to replace them. we contacted the landlord and he said heating and ventilation were the issue. we duly heated and ventilated to little avail. we pressed the landlord for cavity wall insulation on the outside of the flat, allowing heat to remain in the flat and alleviate the problem, he “looked into it”.

    eventually we were provided with a dehumidifier which we accepted the cost of running. this winter (our 2nd) the mould has returned, despite repeated bleaching with mould killer. we even found a mushroom growing in the bathroom after a few days away.

    our landlord seemed concerned and “got a damp guy in” this person said the wall would benefit from insulation, but if we had a dehumidifier why wasn’t it running? (we were out at the time!) we have since found damp has penetrated our bed’s headboard.

    we are looking to buy a house and only have a few months left before it is built, is it worth staying put and trying to claim compensation from landlord or do we cut our losses and place our furniture that is still good in storage (we have received an offer to stay with family until our house is built)?

    reaching the end of our tethers really, any advice would be welcomed.

  11. hi tessa. my girlfriend is having damp problems in her flat since she moved in 18 months ago.she rents off a letting agent and has always paid the is a one bed flat but she has never been in her bedroom due to black mould asergillus.the agent paid for a new bed and now she has it in the lounge.the agent had all the work done in dec 09 but it came back in may-june 2010.emh are involed but the agent just keeps fobbing her off.she has had her heating on 24-7 and is ventilated and the agent said he would help with the heating costs.there is no timer on the boiler and the kitchen cupboards have no backs on after telling the agent several she has ventolin from the doctors. her clothes some of, have been damaged and furniture.because she is on benifits the agent has asked to see if she can get free wall insulation.and she still pays her rent for a one bed, yet she is in a bedsit.the stress this has caused her,with worry and health she asked me to help. she has every document since she has moved in.she wants compensating, but how. any advice would be so helpful. thats just a summary of what has happened. thanks archie

  12. hi,

    i am currently renting a flat and i have discovered the shower recess has been leaking water into the wall and the beed room that joins that wall. i have contacted the real estate agent and the plumber has been around to look. but i am wondering is this considered an emergency repair? and if the house is unfit for use should the land lord be finding somewhere else for me to stay until the repairs can be done? also should i be worried about the chances of mould being there and making me or my son ill?


  13. I don’t think the need for repairs for a damaged shower head would make the entire house unfit, necessitating alternative accommodation. After all, presumably there is nothing wrong with the rest of the house.

    Please note though that I am not a surveyor so cannot comment on the details of disrepair claims.

  14. Hi. I am currently renting a ground floor flat. Over the last few weeks we have had a damp problem in the bedroom, which we are unable to use as it smells awful and there is mould on the walls. The landlord put it down to a leaky seal on the bath, however this has now been fixed and the mould keeps coming back, even after running a dehumidifier to dry the room. We have lost a mattress, bed and quite a lot of clothes and shoes due to the mould. The landlord is refusing to compensate us properly for this and even said he could charge us for the damage despite the fact we reported the problem straight away. Many other flats in the same block have the same problem (same room). Any advice on what to do would be much appreciated?

  15. You need to find out the reason for the mould and damp. Then you will know what your rights are. However we cannot advise what your rights are until the cause is known.

  16. Hello,

    I am living in a student house with 4 other girls.

    We have had problems with damp since last winter. However it keeps getting blamed on condensation. We got sent a bog-standard letter from the housing agents, which tells us to ventilate, heat the house etc. However as our heating has no thermostat to control the temperature we can merely switch it on or off. We cannot increase the temperature.
    We also got told to ventilate the shower room. It has a broken extractor fan which we have told the housing agents about numberous time. The ceiling in the shower room is now covered in mould.
    In my bedroom there is a damp wall where the neighbours shower leaked. The shower is fixed now however the landlord has left the wall damp and rotting for over a year.

    We are worried we will not get our deposits back as the landlord will try and charge us for the damage caused however we open windows when possible and take the precautions we can.

    I feel like it is a losing never-ending battle!

  17. @Louise First – get the local authority environmental health dept to do an inspection. They can order your landlord to carry out repairs to bring the property up to standard.

    Second – your deposit should be protected with a scheme which will have a free arbitration scheme you can use if you want to object to any deductions made from your deposit.

    It does sound as if the conditions you are having to put up with are unacceptable. You may have a claim for compensation.

  18. Hi , I am looking for some advise please. I have 3 wks ago mooved out of a property that was rendored unsafe to live in by enviromental health. I live with my husband , and my 8 yr old daughter, We were given a new house and after 1 week green mould spots started to appear on the kitchen walls , and in the bbys bedroom. My daughter started complaining of a ear ache and cryin in pain I took her the doctors who said she had an severe ear infection an gave her 3 lots of medication to take 3 times a day for a week. I have reported this to the landlord who sent out a specialist who confirmed that every wall in the hoiuse was off the rador for damp ! Since this i have been given 4 dehumidifiers !! my daughter again has been back to the hospital over her ears and this week was given another 3 lots of medication to take. What are my rights in this situation ? I have been told that there was a herrendous leak in this property before we mooved in were the boiler burst. The damp specialist said we are not helping by living here , but the landlord said we may not be rehoused.In the property now there is now this orange fungus growing and foamning on the walls with the green mould , I have looked on the internet and it said it is not safe to use the dehumidifer if the green mould is already present is this true ?

    Any help would be great Thanks

  19. I would suggest you try to find a solicitor who can advise you on taking a claim against your landlord for the disrepair and also perhaps for compensation for personal injury. This is one firm which can help

    It may also be worth speaking to your Local Authority to see if they could assist with rehousing, in view of your daughters condition. It is worth a try.

  20. I’ve recently moved out of our property because of severe mould which has also grown on our clothes and furniture. Am I a able to bill my landlord for the cleaning of these items?
    Thanks, Amy

  21. @Amy That would depend on why the mould was there in the first place. Have a read of the blog post. Sometimes condenstation and mould is the tenants fault.

    If it was not your fault then probably yes.



About the post author:

Tessa Shepperson

Tessa is a lawyer and specialises in creating products and services which help landlords and letting agents learn and understand landlord & tenant law. For example, she runs the Landlord Law website (now in its 14th year) and is a director of Easy Law Training Ltd and Your Law Store. Tessa also sits on the Property Redress Scheme Council. When not working she enjoys reading, cooking and messing around on the computer. You can also find her on Google

The Landlord Law Blog from Tessa Shepperson

Tessa is an English lawyer specialising in residential landlord and tenant law.

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