Damp in rental property - again(6 Posts)
I posted a while back about damp in the house we own, which is rented out (don't know how to link to the thread on my phone, sorry)
The tenant has been reporting issues with damp in the kitchen. We have installed a special automatic extractor fan that detects humidity and comes on automatically, we have provided tenant with a decent dehumidifier to help remove any residual damp from before the fan (when the old extractor probably wasn't working properly) and given advice on good ventilation. There us no obvious sign if any leaks etc.
The tenant is still complaining of damp in the kitchen cupboards. We suspect she isn't using the dehumidifier, and may not be following the ventilation advice, but there's no way to know for sure. She wants us to sort the damp out, but I don't know what more we could reasonably do. I feel like we are stuck at an impasse, and would really well one any suggestions on how we could resolve this issue...
Whereabouts is the damp?
We rented a property which was fine at first, then there was some heavy snow followed later by heavy rain and damp and mould appeared in one of the low level cupboards on the corner of the house. Outside was a flower bed and it looked as if the damp course had given up the ghost. Could it be something like that?
Are there any air bricks in the walls?
She's saying it is in the cupboards, and the kitchen generally. We had a new damp course done when we bought the house (approx 2 years ago) and the ground outside the kitchen is all paved, so I don't think the ground level can have raised. I assume it would be very unlikely for the damp course to have failed already?
I'm not sure about air bricks, I will get the tenant to check. I know there are vents in other rooms due to gas fires being fitted, but I can't remember if there are any in the kuchen.
Personally, your comment that the ground outside is all paved is one that rings alarm bells with me.
If your air bricks aren't working and this is inadvertently draining towards the kitchen, moisture will build up under the kitchen floor. It will then increase the moisture in the floor structure, which is above the dpc. On he assumption that the floor covering, being in a kitchen, is impermeable, the only way out for the moisture is to the edges and up the walls, which would then end up in the cupboards.
How old is the house?
It's a 1930s semi. Outside is brick drive, which is well below the height of the damp course.
I will check the air brick situation. Unfortunately we don't live close by so will have to ask the agents /tenant to look.
If it's not rising damp (damaged DPC thus water rising through brickwork, as bricks are porous and soak up water like a sponge!) which it won't be because you had your DPC done (unless there's damage somewhere) and it's not penetrating damp (cracks around windows, cracks in walls, poorly fitted doors and windows etc) then it can only be down to condensation.
The science bit - mould can only form on a damp surface, and a damp surface either happens due to a leak or due to air laden with moisture hitting a surface which is lower than the temperature of the air, i.e an outside wall.
How does moisture get into the air? Drying washing, showering, baths, cooking foods or boiling pans, breathing...all create moist air. How to prevent it? Improve insulation, improve heating (check your EPC, that will give some big clues) and VENTILATE. The number one cause of damp in rented properties is because tenants do not/cannot/will not open a window to let fresh air circulate around the property. They block up air bricks and keep windows firmly shut and the central heating on all day - recipe for rampant mould growth. Regular ventilation, adequate heating and taking care to put lids on pans when cooking, drying laundry in a well ventilated room or area and ventilating rooms after baths and showers will all alleviate mould growth.
Biggest reason they won't open the window? "because it's cold".
You've done your due diligence and made every effort to accommodate the tenant, but from here on in issue them with guidance on reducing mould and if your property comes back damaged then it will come out of their deposit unless they can show that they took adequate steps to ventilate the property and prevent mould growth - it's not just down to you, they live there and it wasn't mouldy before (we assume) so they must recognise that they have to make an effort to assist in reducing the problem.
As a footnote, do bear in mind that as of 2018 if your EPC is particularly bad (i'm sure it isn't, but just in case it is!) you will need to bring it up to standard or you will be barred from renting the property to tenants until it is up to scratch. See my article on this here - www.hawkandchadwick.co.uk/landlords-must-improve-draughty-properties/
You can access EPC's on the EPC Register website with the property postcode.
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