Asktenants.co.uk is a website where tenants rate and review their landlord and rental property. Out of thousands of properties reviewed, 40% of the tenants have unresolved mould or damp in rented property. With this issue so widespread, we have researched on tenants’ rights about mould and damp.
This blog will focus on harmful effects and resolution of mould issues and tenants’ rights about and damp.
What are health effects of mould in the house?
Typical Health consequence from exposure to mould in the house are: Itchy eyes, Flu like symptoms, Achy joints, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Tingling lips, Skin irritation and rings, Nose and lung bleeds, Headache, Blurred vision, Vertigo.
One of the most dangerous mould issues found in the homes is called ‘black mould’. Its greenish-black gelatinous mould. It is usually slimy because of a wet layer on the top. However if a toxic black mould colony’s water source runs out it can appear dry and powdery.
Mould can impact anyone which is evident from this article on daily mail where actress Brittany Murphy’s death linked to fungus in LA mansion. The comments on this article where user’s share their story about mould will make you realize how big a mistake it is to ignore mould in house.
What do experts say about dealing with mould in the house?
Principal consultant, Jeff Charlton is recognized as one of the UKs leading experts in mould investigation and water damage holding extensive US and European accreditation. Jeff has been featured as a mould and water damage consultant in TV programs such as BBC news, Homes from Hell, Help my House is Falling Down. He currently runs mouldbusters.co.uk, he says –
Do not use bleach to deal with mould and damp:
Bleach is not a fungicide it is a registered cleaner only and bad one at that because it simply kills contamination. British Standards WHO and all international agencies recognize dead mould is 40 times more dangerous than live mould so killing mould is obviously bad if you don’t remove it. It should be remembered that British Standards also state mycelia and mould fragments are allergenic and possibly toxic. Studies have shown that bleach will not kill all mould species and that stress caused to the mould can increase toxicity.
Process to deal with mould in the house:
The first issue is to identify the why mould has grown and in all circumstances it will be because a moisture source is available. The following protocols should be followed a) Mould investigation b) Drying, Contamination assessment c) Mould removal d) Decontamination.
So an independent expert survey is critical to deal with serious mould and tackling mould yourself with cleaning products is not a good idea.
Tenant rights mould and damp:
We have done our research about tenants’ rights mould and damp. We found useful legal advice by LBC’s resident Barrister Daniel Barnett. Listen to legal advice shared on LBC radio here http://tinyurl.com/gvzykmh it’s the most important 5 minutes you will ever spend if you are a tenant dealing with mould. Here are the takeaways:
Tricky to blame the landlord
The issue of mould is generally a tricky situation because normally landlords are legally responsible for everything to do with the basic build of the house, including the walls, but the responsibility for damp and mould is slightly different.
When landlords are responsible for mould
Landlords are generally responsible for damp if it’s caused by leaky pipes, structural defects or a damp proof course going wrong or lack of damp proofing.
When tenants are responsible for mould
The tenant is responsible if it is caused by condensation because of lack of ventilation, like not opening windows or inadequate heating. However, speaking to our industry experts this is rarely a cause of a very serious, recurrent black mould.
Get an official assessment from damp expert
This is the key point. It’s always going to be very, very difficult to prove whether the mould was caused by inadequate heating or something else without getting an official assessment from a damp expert.
If it’s not obvious that the mould was caused by a leak or structural damage, then it’s most likely that the reason is due to the temperature not being adequately controlled by the tenant, consequently the cost of redecorating can be deducted from the tenant’s deposit.
Up to the tenant to prove innocence
Rightly or wrongly so, it’s up to the tenant to prove the cause of the mould, because on the face of it, if there isn’t an obvious leak or any another obvious cause, the most likely explanation is lack of ventilation. That’s the most common cause for mould. If the tenant obtains a written report from a damp expert, stating that the problem isn’t caused by heating or ventilation and it’s actually because of a structural defect, then the landlord will most likely be held responsible.
Hope you found the blog informative. We have invested our time into mould research as you told us in your reviews on Asktenants.co.uk how common this problem is. Some of you have also sent us letters from your GP on how mould in the rented house is impacting health of your children, having been a tenant who lived in a rented house full of mould we could relate to it. Please do keep rating your rental by signing up to our website. Your ratings keep us going!