Damp and mould is always something to be aware and vigilant of, and this is particularly relevant as we leave the hot and humid days of summer and enter the brisk months of autumn and winter.
As a landlord, it’s important to not only be aware of what can cause damp and mould, but to also be aware of how to take precautionary measures to prevent it.
Both damp and mould are unpleasant for tenants to live with, and if your property is available for rent, it can also be an unsightly deterrent when showing prospective tenants around.
Should damp and mould occur, it’s vital to be able to deal with it quickly and promptly, and by keeping your tenants informed, you can help to prevent it completely.
Let’s find out what causes damp and mould, the tips you can use to reduce the likelihood of it occurring, and what you can do in the event that you do find damp or mould in your property.
The primary cause of damp and mould is condensation. Condensation occurs when warm moist air meets a cold surface such as an external wall or window.
Ordinary activities such as showering or cooking are most often the cause of condensation at home, and naturally it’s even more likely to occur in the cold winter months.
A lack of ventilation in the property will only exasperate the effects of condensation, which may eventually lead to undesired damp and mould.
There are also other causes of damp and mould to be aware of, such as:
- - Rising damp
- - Penetrating damp (rainfall)
- - Blocked guttering walls
- - External plumbing
In these cases, you should contact a RICS qualified surveyor.
However, for the purposes of providing advice on actions that you or your tenant can personally adhere to, we are going to focus on how you can efficiently halt damp and mould by eliminating condensation – the main contributor.
Stop mould in its tracks
If you attain the correct heating and ventilation balance, then damaging condensation can be avoided. The heating helps keep the property warm and the ventilation will enable excess moisture laden air to escape.
An essential heating tip is to set the heating thermostat for long periods on a lower temperature setting to regulate the temperature, or have it set to automatically switch on for shorter periods, totaling at least seven hours a day.
Rather than adjust the thermostat manually, allow the system to regulate itself for you. Additionally, ensure there are no cold spots in the property by turning all radiators on.
Encourage your tenants to improve ventilation by opening windows and trickle vents (vents within window frames). They can also combat moisture production by covering saucepans and drying clothes outside rather than on radiators.
Also, advise them to wipe away any condensation quickly after it’s spotted and keep windows open or at least ajar; especially during or after cooking or showering.
If there are any extractor fans, ensure that they are operational by applying a small square of tissue to the fan whilst turned on. If it sticks, the fan is functioning successfully.
Finally, when running a bath, turn on the cold tap first so that when the hot water hits, it produces far less steam.
For more helpful tips on keeping your property in good condition, read our article on how to deal with wear and tear
“What can I do if mould has already occurred?”
If you have found damp and mould in your property then don’t worry, these things happen to the best of us. Luckily, you can treat existing mould growth by wiping down walls and windows with a recognised fungicidal wash. Make sure you follow the provided instructions precisely.
Then, you should dry clean any clothes affected by mildew and shampoo carpets. However, make sure that you’re careful because disturbing mould can sometimes increase the risk of respiratory problems.
Once you’ve applied mould treatment and you’re ready to redecorate, make sure you use a good quality fungicidal paint to help prevent mould reoccurring.
Finally, when redecorating, ensure that the walls of your property have been insulated. This insulation can come in the form of EWI (external wall installation), IWI (internal wall installation), cavity filling and double glazing.
We hope this article has proved useful in helping you establish the causes, precautionary methods and solutions associated with damp and mould in properties. These tips should hopefully serve you well over the coming winter period and beyond.
Winter can be a tough period for your property, so make sure to take a look at our “7 winter property problem tips for landlords” article