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is this unreasonable to ask a tenant to do this.

(93 Posts)
MrsBucketxx Tue 22-Jan-13 08:48:16

Our last tenant didn't air the house leaving us with a big bill from a damp specialist to fix the damp caused by not opening windows etc.

The house is now vacant while we fix this, we want to put a clause in the next tenancy agreement to make sure the house is aired,

Is this being unreasonable , would it bother you when renting.

I dont want another massive job on my hands.

As cosmosim says most tenancy agreements now have a condensation damage clause. Tenants are far more likely to open windows if they realise they are responsible for the financial costs of not doing so.

BrittaPerry, I rent out a flat, there is no way it could cope with the water generated from washing on the radiators, showers, and cooking if windows are not opened. It is only a small space - a large house does of course have a greater capacity for water. There are extractor fans, trickle vents, and air bricks, but I have had tenants in the past seal all of these with parcel tape. I lived in the flat for 10 years myself and never had a problem with condensation, so I think it is fair to make tenants liable where it is caused by their lifestyle. Obviously damp due to structural problems is a different matter.

LindaMcCartneySausage Tue 22-Jan-13 10:15:05

Sounds like the house is not performing property. If it is an old house, but the windows (presumably double glazed UPVC?) are only 5 years old, it sounds like there is a ventilation issue, rather than a damp issue and it's caused by your alterations.

The replacement windows are probably sealing it tight shut, when once it breathed. Did the house have a damp issue before the windows were fitted? While it's not unreasonable for your tenants to avoid causing damp, if there is a problem with ventilation in winter, that is for the landlord to address. Power showed, washing drying inside, general living all causes water vapour to build up. If it can't escape, then it's going to cause damp and mould. It's not much fun keeping the windows open when it's 0c outside.

Extractor fans, ventilation bricks should be fitted and the tumble drier properly ventilated to the outside, rather than condensing.

You can add a clause to the tenancy agreement that the house should be aired, but to protect your property, I would make the alterations.

ISeeSmallPeople Tue 22-Jan-13 10:15:17

Use the ARLA standard AST. It contains this clause already.

Warn tenants that there's has been a problem, that you've spent a lot of time & money sorting it out, but that they should ventilate & keep an eye on corners, windows etc. Leaving a bit of room behind furniture for air to circulate is important. Keep trickle vents open. Run a dehumidifier if necessary, particularly in the room where they dry clothes.

Airing doesn't take long. It's not a question of keeping windows open for hours. Open 2 windows at different ends of the flat, make a cup of tea or find some other way of spending 5 minutes, close. That's it.

Give them a copy of this

And while you're at it a copy othe Thames Water guide of what not to put down the loo, including 'flushable' wipes smile

we have a clause that says we have to keep windows wiped down of condensation to avoid mould growing, which i assume has been a problem in the past. i would have done this anyway, but if they want to have it in the contract i don't object

however, we do have a job keeping damp to a minimum as there is no extractor fan in either the kitchen or bathroom hmm. the kitchen cupboards can be especially bad with condensation as there is no radiator in the kitchen and three external walls

i make sure that the house is properly aired, especially when i have to dry washing indoors (no tumble dryer and no space for one), but given the lack of extractor fans i would be VERY unhappy with any damp damage being charged to us

but it sounds as though you are making an effort to install everything necessary anyway

LittleChimneyDroppings Tue 22-Jan-13 10:16:55

Completely reasonable to have that in the contract. I always put that in.

MrsBucketxx Tue 22-Jan-13 10:28:08

The windows where put in when I lived thete abd there wasn't an issue at all.

Ill have a look at the arla thing, thanks

RCheshire Tue 22-Jan-13 10:50:07

Our current rented place is awful for damp in the bathrooms, despite an (insufficient) extractor in each room. We use the dryer primarily, and have the windows open whenever showering (excluding the last couple of weeks) but it is still a mould-fest.
However, the owner does nothing to address it despite frequent inspections.
Mind you he spends nothing on maintaining the house full-stop. It's a bit tragic watching it gradually go to waste. And yes, he's yet another 'accidental landlord' who couldn't sell the place and begrudges spending on maintenance.

RCheshire Tue 22-Jan-13 10:51:16

By, the way, I wasn't implying that you (the OP) are reluctant to spend on maintenance, but rather that's it's common amongst accidental landlords.

Cosmosim Tue 22-Jan-13 11:22:18

The problem with accidental landlord is that having lived in the property, they are more reluctant when tenants start a list of complaints when there was no issue before - like damp. One of my friends lived in her flat for 2 years. Never had any damp / mould. Rented it out and 1 month in, new tenants are complaining of the mould growing everywhere. Friend points out they need to ventilate more. Nope, they don't want to open their windows and let heat out. Also don't want to buy dehumidifier and insist friend's place must have rising damp and she needs to sort it now. shock

SolomanDaisy Tue 22-Jan-13 11:24:25

This is more like an AIBU set of replies! If anyone posts in here about a damp problem with a house they own, they're told it's a lifestyle problem and they need to make changes like using extractor fans, not drying clothes on radiators etc.! But if someone else owns it, it's not a lifestyle problem apparently. I think it's totally reasonable.

MrsBucketxx Tue 22-Jan-13 11:33:03

I'm a bit upset really, the tenant never said anything, then out of the blue. I'm leaving its damp, didn't get chance even to sort it,

Its ended up we are having a damp, system installed replastered, extractors fitted, and fitting a new bathroom (nothing to do with damp)

The tenant is adamant its our fault.

CashmereHoodlum Tue 22-Jan-13 11:47:11

Could you buy a dehumidifier, add it onto the inventory and insert a clause that it must be used? When I lived in a place with bad condensation the dehumidifier was the only thing that worked. It wasn't a matter of keeping it aired by opening the windows. It wasn't a lifestyle thing as I live in a similar house now and don't have the same problem.

Cosmosim Tue 22-Jan-13 11:47:40

How has tenant proved it's not condensation? As he's insisting it's your fault. Most damp is either condensation or blocked gutters resulting in penetrating damp (which can also be caused by leaky pipes etc). Last type is rising damp which is easy to rule out as mould only grows to certain height, then gravity takes over (and you get tide mark on a wall). If there wasn't anything leaking /rising - then it is condensation. I hate it when common sense flies out the door when some people rent hmm

GreenEggsAndNichts Tue 22-Jan-13 12:18:46

I've taken a short poll of a few friends who are in rental properties. Not one of them airs their house regularly. Two of them were surprised at the idea that they'd have to. They've owned or lived in newer houses almost exclusively, and the idea that they'd have to open windows regularly during the winter time had never occurred to them.

Which I'm glad of, because it had never occurred to me. I took the poll (of English people) because I'm not from this country, have always lived in newish build homes, and this has never been an issue.

So yes, if you expect people to have to open windows throughout the winter, you need to tell them. Don't just bury it in their letting agreement either, because we all know how closely people read those (some do, some don't). Get the extractors put in, get the dehumidifier and tell them they need to use it regularly, because it is in an issue in that house.

I currently rent, have rented a couple of properties in this country (have now purchased a house, thankfully) and have had any number of experiences with poor ventilation and ancient, inefficient boilers. I lived in a Victorian terrace where we'd have to ventilate daily, then heat the place back up again at our expense with the old-fashioned boiler provided. It wasn't nice, and we moved on quickly.

There are two sides to every story, I wouldn't tell you you are being U, but that yes if you expect people to do something in particular, you need to be very clear about that when they move in.

ILikeBirds Tue 22-Jan-13 12:24:54

I think people's ideas of acceptable compromises differ.

I've lived in 4 different houses (1930s to modern), dry all my clothes on radiators, never had an extractor fan in a bathroom and have never had a problem with damp. If I now moved somewhere and had a damp problem that to me seems like a problem with the house as my lifestyle hasn't changed. In my mind houses should be able to cope with normal day to day living. Others clearly feel that constantly having to take measures to mitigate against damp is acceptable.

ethelb Tue 22-Jan-13 12:25:36

OP, it sounds like you were reasonable and the tenent was int he wrong. However, I think that what you really need is a clause that states they have to tell you about a problem occuring or they will be charged. That is fairly standard in my tenency agreements and hasn't been abused by either party in my experience.

wonkylegs Tue 22-Jan-13 12:42:08

A lot of houses that are 120 yrs old have airbricks this is because they usually have a ventilated sub floor with solid wall rather than a solid concrete floor with a cavity wall. I would suggest if you don't have them that it would be worth checking if you should have them, modern 'improvements' often disturb natural ventilation that was part of the design of older houses and these systems no longer work when they are 'improved' by people who although well meaning don't understand how these systems work.
Did you get your damp assessed by an independent damp specialist or just by a company that sells damp treatments? If it was the latter I would be careful about their advice as many give incorrect or incomplete advice.

MrsBucketxx Tue 22-Jan-13 13:40:16

A surveyor and a damp company suggested by the first.

MrsBucketxx Tue 22-Jan-13 13:43:56

Cosmo, I really didn't want to upset her too much, she said it was making her ill, which leaves us liable.

She thinks that any damp is our issue to hers, thays why I want to add this clause.

BrittaPerry Tue 22-Jan-13 15:02:24

If you expect a tenant to always use a dryer, I hope you reduce the rent to cover the cost of running it. We have two children who are not fully toilet trained - if we even had a dryer (we had one that broke under the strain of washable nappies) we would not be able to afford to run it for everything. If we had that kind of money we would buy a house, not rent...

Corygal Tue 22-Jan-13 15:06:54

YABU - why are you letting a damp house? It's not wildly healthy. You are liable, too - sort the damp out.

Even with a law that favours property owners over property dwellers, the law takes a much dimmer view of unsanitary housing than it does of tenant's deposits. Constantly taking action to make the property habitable is not acceptable to be honest.

Talk to your local council - they may give you a grant.

MirandaWest Tue 22-Jan-13 15:12:06

I'm a tenant and I'm pretty sure there's a clause in the contract about keeping the house aired. I often have windows open so hopefully am OK. Tbh I'm sure if I were doing something wrong it would have been picked up in the regular inspections.

ISeeSmallPeople Tue 22-Jan-13 15:15:52

Have you read the thread Corygal, she has had lots of work done most of which probably wasn't necessary?

I have a property that has never suffered from damp or condensation, in the last 35 years I've owned it. Last tenants in for just under 2 years, and every window frame was mouldy, marks on walls from running water off skylight, curtains living all marked. Why? She never opened the windows, & had the heating on far too low. It's nothing major, but I'm surprised at how she failed to notice. Every time I was there the water was running down the widow panes & I felt cold.

UnexpectedItemInShaggingArea Tue 22-Jan-13 15:18:18

I've had this problem as a landlord and TBH you can rarely rely on tenants to air houses properly. If a house is inherently prone to damp because of how it is constructed it's probably not suitable for renting.

But the measures you have taken may have resolved this.

ISeeSmallPeople Tue 22-Jan-13 15:18:24

This is the standard clause in my asts - To take all reasonable precautions to prevent condensation by keeping the Property adequately ventilated and heated and to wipe down any surfaces affected by condensation to prevent mould growth.

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