- June 13, 2013
- By Timothy Waitt
- 0 comments
My flat is damp. My house is mouldy. My landlord won’t fix anything!
Damp and mould is a horrible housing problem. It looks horrible, it is smelly, and it damages clothes and belongings. Black mould can also cause all sorts of breathing problems, including making asthma worse particularly for young children. Some properties are particularly prone to mould developing.
If you are unfortunate enough to find yourself renting a property suffering a severe damp and mould problem you have my sympathy. I have lived with it and it is nasty. You cannot get rid of the mould. However much you wipe the mould, it eventually comes back.
What can I do about the damp and mould you ask yourself?
Tell your landlord! Serious damp and mould is often due to a repair problem or a design issue. It could be rising damp which can rot skirting boards and then lead to black mould growth higher up the wall. Or there could be a leak, either in your flat or coming through from outside. Or the extractor fans are not working leading to very high humidity in the flat and resulting in condensation damp and mould.
If your landlord is reasonable chances are they will fix the problem within a few weeks or a month or so…or they might not. If they don’t then you can take legal action to make them do so. You can bring a court claim in the County Court and get repairs done and compensation. Anthony Gold Solicitors advises on these cases under Legal Aid and No-Win, No Fee agreements.
Sometimes a landlord will blame the problems on condensation. Condensation occurs when warm moist air hit something cold, causing moisture to condense out of the air. A good example is your ice cold beer (…or white wine, cider G&T, rum and Coke…etc) – the outside of the glass gets wet due to moisture in the air condenses on the cold beer glass. Fine in the pub. Not fine on your bedroom wall or ceiling. If it’s extreme it can result in water dripping from the ceiling and running down the walls.
Bad cases of condensation damp and mould are probably caused by bad design of the property. I acted in a recent case where the roof was totally un-insulated. It was so cold and the problem was so bad that water dripped in one of the rooms. See details of the case here.
Often landlords blame condensation on the tenant. Of course if the tenant never opens the windows, never uses the heating, dry lots of washing inside and boils a lot of water there will be condensation problems. But most tenants don’t live like this. Really bad damp and mould problems are often due to a repair issue (see above) or the design of the flat, not the tenant.
If the problem is due to a design problem and there is mould growth then your landlord probably has an obligation to solve the problem under the Environmental Protection Act 1990. If your landlord won’t do anything tell the Council’s Environmental Health Department. As long as you’re not a council tenant they must inspect if they are told the damp and mould is serious – photos help reinforce the point. They can make the landlord do the work or do it themselves. If they don’t act, Anthony Gold Solicitors can help.
If you are a council tenant, Environmental Health may not do anything – in which case you can take action yourself with Anthony Gold Solicitors help. You can make the landlord solve the problem and stop it happening again. The Magistrates court can also make your landlord pay compensation. Cases like this can be funded under Legal Aid or on a no win no fee agreement. These damp and mould cases are not straightforward and you need a specialist to help you advise.
Anthony Gold Solicitors have a lot of expertise of this work. We prosecuted Lambeth Council successfully for damp and mould in the Camberwell Green magistrates court (see the link above). We have forced landlord to carry out hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of repairs for damp, mould and other issues. We use excellent surveyors experienced in diagnosing these issues. We are recommended in the Legal 500 & Chambers & Partners for our work.