Damp 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 Tenant Law.
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