Many tenants in rental properties live in damp conditions that fall below the government's Decent Homes Standard, often without any prospect of improvement or repair. If you find yourself in this situation, you will want to know what you can do about it. And what should your landlord be doing?

It doesn’t need to be this way. Landlords can treat most cases of damp in rental properties quickly and cheaply.

The article provides advice for tenants and landlords, and includes easy tips on preventing mould growth. Our aim is to decrease the number of rental properties suffering from damp problems and allow tenants to enjoy better living conditions.

 Plaster damage on interior wall


How to look for damp before you rent a property   

Damp can be a problem in any home and one that can lead to numerous issues. Often the problems aren’t found until it’s too late. However, there are red flags that you should be looking for when finding a property to rent.

Five things to look for when checking for damp in a rental property:

  • Discolouration on walls, peeling paint or wallpaper on the walls
  • Black mould on window seals – particularly in the bedroom and bathroom
  • Black mould on the ceiling in the corners of rooms
  • Excess condensation – streaming windows, mirrors
  • Musty or damp smell
  • Smell of fresh paint (this can be evidence of someone painting over visible mould)

Read our full guide on how to check for damp in properties before you rent.


What to do if you notice damp when you are renting

If you spot damp or unusual levels of condensation, these could be early signs of more serious problems to come. It is important that these issues are raised with your landlord as soon as possible in order to tackle the problem early on. The implications of not treating mould and damp quickly can have a serious impact on the health of you and your loved ones. Mould and damp can lead to, or exacerbate, respiratory problems, especially in children.

Working out the root cause is crucial. By reporting and documenting the damp, you will assist the landlord in quickly and efficiently fixing the problem.

How to document damp

Keep a record of:

  • Where the damp is
  • Is it affected by different weather conditions?
  • Does it get worse when you take a bath or shower? Use a washing machine etc.?
  • In the cases of condensation, when is it worst?
  • The temperature of your home
  • Take photos

Mould on interior walls

Who is responsible for damp in a rented property?

When is it the landlord’s responsibility when it comes to damp and mould?

If damp is caused by an underlying repair issue, it is your landlord’s responsibility to arrange for the repairs to be done within a reasonable time. Once the problem is fixed, the property should then be redecorated.

Common underlying faults that require repair include:

  • Leaking pipes
  • Cracks in the walls
  • Rotten or inadequate window frames
  • Missing roof tiles
  • Faulty guttering
  • Faulty damp proof course

Your landlord is also responsible for issues that have caused condensation problems, such as inadequate heating, ventilation or home insulation.

When is it the tenant’s responsibility?

It is your responsibility as a tenant to reduce the chance of mould in rental property. If your actions have caused excess condensation which have led to damp or mould, you landlord may be reluctant to help you fix the issue. Such actions include drying clothes inside and on radiators, not opening windows and allowing the temperature to dramatically fluctuate.


Taking action on damp

Many homes will be affected by damp at some point but there are ways that you can reduce, if not stop, the risk.

What can you do as a tenant to prevent damp and mould?

Maintain a constant temperature  

British Standards state that a minimum standard of heating should be capable of efficiently maintaining the room at a minimum temperature of 18°C in bedrooms and 21°C in living rooms, when the temperature outside is minus 1°C.

Although it is the landlord’s responsibility to ensure that the house can be heated efficiently, it is your responsibility as a tenant to ensure that this is maintained on a day-to-day basis. To reduce condensation, ensure that the temperature remains constant and doesn’t drop rapidly at night; this can lead to damp walls and streaming windows.

Reduce condensation through good ventilation

It is essential that your property is well ventilated. Opening windows after a bath/shower is a great way of getting fresh air to circulate within the property. If you are drying washing, keep the windows open so moisture can escape

For more easy-to-follow tips on reducing condensation and therefore damp, check out our guide here.

Mould on interior walls 

What should your landlord do to prevent mould and damp?

Your landlord is legally responsible to treat damp problems. It is best to focus on preventative methods and install equipment that will stop an issue developing.

Improve ventilation 

Condensation control can be achieved using various methods, from a simple dehumidifier to high-performing ventilation systems that can be installed to ventilate the whole property. A sophisticated positive ventilation system like the Nuaire Drimaster ECO or Kair Heat Recovery Unit are designed to combat condensation and associated health risks.

For maximum ventilation, the system should be installed in a central position in the property. It works by replacing stagnant air with fresh air. This will significantly reduce moisture in the air and eliminate surface condensation - the main cause of mould growth.

Insulation & windows

As of the 1st April 2018 it is a requirement for any properties rented out in the private rented sector to have a minimum energy performance rating of E on an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC). Improving a property’s insulation can help landlords comply with Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards. They should ensure that the roof, walls and floor have quality insulation.

Although there are no window regulations for rented properties, replacing single-glazed with double-glazed windows is a quick and efficient way of meeting the minimum energy rating.

Damp defence

Use Anti-Mould Wash to remove any black mould, fungi, mildew and algae from already effected surfaces. You can use Anti-Mould Paint to prevent the mould from coming back, even in areas of persistent condensation.

For more affordable, preventative methods to reduce damp and condensation in your rental properties, check out our guide on reducing damp.

Getting rid of damp in bathrooms

This is a common one in rental properties, but its effects on the well-being of occupants and their health must not be underestimated. We have already put together a comprehensive article on getting rid of mould in the bathroom, but a few important points would be to remember to upgrade or improve ventilation and consider using Anti Mould Paint to avoid future issues. 

Mould in the bathroom in corner of room


Permagard – Damp and condensation experts

As you can see, as a landlord it’s vital to control damp in your properties. It need not be prohibitively expensive – there are many affordable and easy solutions you can implement to make your houses a safer and more enjoyable space all round.

Here at Permagard we have many years of experience working for people in need of damp proofing.

 Feel free to contact us today to find out more about how we can help you in your quest for damp free rental accommodation! 


Related articles:

Landlord’s Guide to Damp

How to Get Rid of Damp Guide

Getting Rid of Mould in the Bathroom