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Damp in rented flat

(30 Posts)
bloodybutunbowed Sun 23-Mar-14 14:17:50

Could anyone advise please on how to cure prolific damp in a rented flat? My son has moved in to a place that has been converted from a shop's storeroom into a small bedsit/flat. There's no heating so he's using 2 electric heaters. It had slight signs of black mould when he went to view it but we thought that was because it had been empty for a while. It's drylined and we've recently found out that it was patched up after having been previously burnt out. Mould is appearing at an alarming rate, despite repeated bleaching: black mould on the walls, some kind of white fluffy mould on chairs and doors, green mould on the back wall of bookshelves. The landlord is not interested and there's 4.5 months left on the contract. Thanks for any advice!!

ooerrmissus Sun 23-Mar-14 14:28:30

Mould is usually because of damp. I would suggest opening windows daily, cooking with a lid on the pan do no steam, and not drying clothes in the flat if possible.

It also sounds as if ventilation bricks may have been covered up. These need to be uncovered to allow moisture to escape.

On the landlords side he is bring a twat. Black mould is seriously bad for health which means the flat is dangerous to live in. He needs to address it ASAP. He could look at the ventilation bricks mentioned, vents in the windows. Or a powered ventilation system- there is s company called envirovent which do them.

Call the citizens advice on Monday re tackling the landlord.

specialsubject Sun 23-Mar-14 14:31:49

to tell you what you may already know; if it is condensation it is your son's fault, if it is damp then it is the landlord's.

your son will generate moisture by breathing, as well as by showering, cooking and drying washing indoors. These things are dealt with by ventilation, proper heating, extractor fans and not drying washing indoors.

if he is doing all these things right here then it may well be damp, i.e. a building fault. If the landlord is ignoring him then next stop is the council for environmental health.

bloodybutunbowed Sun 23-Mar-14 14:39:14

Thank you for this. I think the mould problem predated my son moving in and there are no ventilation bricks anywhere that we can see. The major problem seems to be keeping the place warm, which is very difficult with just 2 electric heaters. I will certainly make sure my son follows all the advice you've given and we're going to borrow a dehumidifier too to see if that helps.

ThatBloodyWoman Sun 23-Mar-14 14:39:43

We have black mould from condensation so you need adequete heat and ventilation, no drying clothes inside, and good air circulation (don't have anything immediately next to exterior walls)

Best bet now would be to get a dehumidifier.

The landlord is not helping things at all by not having central heating.Makes life very difficult for the tenant to control condensation.

I would approach the landlord and ask them to supply a dehumidifier.

ThatBloodyWoman Sun 23-Mar-14 14:45:19

If the landlord is truly not interested I would take steps to protect your son's property from being ruined by mildew etc, and move on asap.

I would also involve environmental health and any letting agency involved.

Black mould is bad for you, bad for your stuff, and bad for their property.

We have to be able to breathe, wash and cook in our homes-and all these things create condensation..

specialsubject Sun 23-Mar-14 16:10:58

Condensation can be dealt with by ventilation, housework and heating. Damp needs building repairs.

just two heaters is not good - but if it was like that when viewed, that's no reason to break the lease.

I agree he should move on as soon as possible. Sounds a poor property.

PseudoBadger Sun 23-Mar-14 16:21:09

I wonder if it is actually habitable ('covered from a store room').
Are there openable windows? What's the natural light like? As an EHO myself, I suggest giving EH a call...

PseudoBadger Sun 23-Mar-14 16:21:40


Luciferbox Sun 23-Mar-14 16:27:39

We had black mould in a rented flat once and my DH developed a chest problem which I'm still convinced was related to the mould. Our landlord pretended to look into it but in reality did nothing. We moved out early. It was expensive but we knew the situation was not going to improve. In the end he found a new tenant so we only lost a months rent, rather than the 4 we should have.

specialsubject Sun 23-Mar-14 17:27:06

interesting thought, pseudobadger. Is there independent council tax for this place? Does it meet reasonable standards?

PseudoBadger Sun 23-Mar-14 19:18:31

Just as a first point - without heating the dwelling will likely have an Category 1 Excess Cold hazard under the a Housing Act 2004. Is there insulation to the room? How many rooms does the dwelling have? Is there hot water? Fire doors? Is it in a HMO?

EHOs will be interested in this dwelling.

bloodybutunbowed Sun 23-Mar-14 23:37:13

I feel very naive for not having thought about the points you've raised Pseudobadger. It's so long since I've had anything to do with rented property that it just didn't occur to me. The property is eligible for council tax but there's no fire escape and the hot water is a funny sort of tank under the kitchen sink that you have turn on when you want it. The bathroom sink only has cold water. We didn't notice that when we viewed - lesson learnt hmm

bloodybutunbowed Sun 23-Mar-14 23:41:00

Pseudobadger I'd be surprised if there was insulation. We didn't know till after taking the tenancy that it was a shop's storeroom that had been burnt out when a drug deal went wrong shockand it looks now as though the landlord bought it cheap, covered everything with plasterboard and let the property out. Suffice it to say that my son will be moving on at the end of the contract, but as we're only 6 weeks in and his stuff is all busily going mouldy it's a case of damage limitation at the moment hmm

fortyplus Sun 23-Mar-14 23:42:13

Helpful guide to preventing condensation smile

PseudoBadger Mon 24-Mar-14 07:15:33

Ok Bloody. So, let's make sure it's safe for your son.
This hot water tank thing - is it heated by electric or gas?
Who is/how many in the rest of the property? Is it part commercial, if so what type of unit? What floor is it on?
What is the fire escape route like? Is it shared/kept clear/unlocked?

PseudoBadger Mon 24-Mar-14 07:27:24

Re the surface condensation/damp, the Dacorum document linked by forty plus is good.
However, the construction of the room (likely to be drylining straight on to solid walls) is likely to make this a losing battle i'm afraid.
From this document:

"There is an increased risk of interstitial condensation occurring in certain types of construction, including: Insulated internal ‘dry lining’ of solid walls. This consists of insulation between battens fixed to the walls and lined internally with plasterboard, or of thermal board fixed directly to the walls on battens or plaster ‘dabs’. Warm moist air that penetrates behind the lining board will meet the cold inner surface of the external wall, resulting in condensation and potentially rotting or corroding the battens."

bloodybutunbowed Tue 25-Mar-14 22:11:32

Just to update, thanks to advice from Pseudobadger and others an EHO is going to contact the landlord to ask him to install heating of some kind! No one has been out to view the property, but I think I will ask as there are other tenants who might be affected by damp/cold. I'm very grateful for all your advice, thank you.

bloodybutunbowed Tue 25-Mar-14 22:37:39

Forgot to add - the EHO warned that the landlord may evict my son if he's asked to fit heaters, which was a bit alarming. Although he wouldn't be able to have another tenant until the work was done. She is going to chase up the letting agent too, so that sounds positive.

smile Hope that's not too much info but I hate threads where the OP never came back and told anyone what happened!

PigletJohn Tue 25-Mar-14 23:09:42

how, and when, is it ventilated?

Hillingdon should be aware that modern drylining and insulation slabs are almost invariably, and should invariably, be done with foil-faced boards and taped joints that are impermeable to water vapour, in order to prevent condensation on or in the cold wall.

bloodybutunbowed Tue 25-Mar-14 23:56:41

Pigletjohn there is a window in the main bed/sitting room but only the top part of it opens because the main window seems to be jammed. The kitchen has a big window but the only small bit of it that opens would have to be got at with a ladder it's so high up, which is not very practical day to day. The bathroom has a very small window and an extractor fan.

I can't really comment on foil backed boards etc since I'm beginning to realise that I'm hopelessly out of my depth hmm and this flat was probably not a good idea. You'd think though that a letting agent would not be allowed to market a flat that is not up to legal standards (just to go back to the heating for a minute).

PigletJohn Wed 26-Mar-14 00:00:15

are these windows sometimes opened?

when does the extractor fan run?

PigletJohn Wed 26-Mar-14 00:08:34

you see, I'm willing to wager that if the windows were partly opened at weekends, and were opened for half an hour a day morning and evening, the humidity in the flat would drop, and mould growth would stop.

PseudoBadger Wed 26-Mar-14 00:13:34

Thanks for coming back OP - I'm glad EH are involved.

I agree Piglet, but I think the damp and mould is merely the tip of the iceberg in this case. I'd still love to know what floor this Bedsit is on OP?

specialsubject Wed 26-Mar-14 09:59:12

being evicted legally does not mean out on the streets that minute. Getting out of this contract early seems a good thing!

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