The effects of damp and mould are a common tenancy issue that can easily result in a deposit dispute. However, resolving issues at the right time can help avoid frustration at the end of the tenancy. That’s why we encourage landlords to talk openly with their tenants throughout the tenancy and take a common sense approach to the subject instead of broaching it at the end — and risk falling into a dispute.
To help make it easier for you to avoid damp and mould disputes, we’ve created four key guidelines that you can use with your tenants to manage problems together:
1. Regularly remind your tenants to immediately report if the home has damp or mould
This will give you the chance to remedy or improve the situation and improve tenants’ comfort in the property. A delay in fixing the problem may lead to greater costs.
2. Dispassionately discuss the causes of damp and mould
Be reasonable about how the change in condition of the property was caused. You may require tenants to change behaviour but be prepared to listen to their side of the story and understand their viewpoint.
3. An information leaflet might not be appropriate
We’ve seen cases where landlords or agents who noticed evidence of damp during an inspection and simply handed the tenant a leaflet on ventilation, heating and avoiding condensation without first checking the cause. Always investigate to ensure any underlying cause is identified
4. Act if the issue is your responsibility
While some damp and mould problems can be solved by tenants’ adapting different behaviour, for example, improving ventilation to rooms with tumble driers, landlords should recognise when the issue needs their involvement to resolve, such as structural improvements to the property.
5. Look for the signs of damp at your mid-tenancy inspections
Whilst it’s important to encourage your tenants to report issues, not all tenants can be relied upon. Use your mid-tenancy inspections to look for the signs of damp, such as high levels of condensation on windows or tell-tale black marks on walls and window sills.
Matt Trevett, Managing Director at The DPS, says: “The circumstances that lead to damp or mould developing can vary: if the problem is structural, the onus may be on the landlord to find a solution but, if the issue is caused by tenant behaviour, the tenant(s) may need to change their approach.
“We’d always encourage tenants and landlords to discuss how best to address damp, mould or any other issue in order to find a solution together rather than waiting until after renters move out.”