Damp and Mould
Damp in your home is caused by excess moisture. Your home could be affected by any of the two common types of damp:
- Condensation - this is the most common form of damp in rented properties. It appears when excess moisture in the air comes into contract with a cold surface, such as a cold wall or window. Condensation is made worse by inadequate ventilation, heating or insulation and tends to be worse in winter. Everyday activities such as cooking, cleaning and bathing add moisture to the air inside our homes, which leads to condensation and the growth of mould.
- Penetrating damp - this is caused by water coming through external walls or the roof. It can occur when there is an internal leak or plumbing problem.
In rare instances rising damp can occur, when moisture beneath the building is soaked up into the bricks or concrete, but advice should always be sought from a surveyor accredited by Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) before undertaking treatment for this issue as rising damp is often misdiagnosed.
Damp can lead to mould growth on walls and furniture, mildew on clothes and other fabrics and the rotting of wooden window frames.
The growth of mould can appear as a cloud of little black dots and has an unpleasant smell.
Damp humid conditions can also provide an environment in which house dust mites can easily multiply. The presence of mould and dust mites can make existing respiratory conditions such as asthma and bronchitis worse.
The only lasting cure for severe mould is to get rid of the dampness.
If you are experiencing mould or damp issues it may be worth buying a low cost humidity meter (hygrometer) in order to track how humid the air in your home is. In addition to damp and mould issues, humid air also increases your heating costs, as you have to warm the water in the air as well.
For comfort and good health when the weather is cooler you should ideally keep humidity levels between 30-60%. Humidity levels rising above 70% for long periods of time will encourage mould growth. Keeping humidity under 50% helps to minimise dust mites. But a home can also be too dry; humidity levels below 30% can lead to dry skin and dry nasal passages, which can lead to respiratory illnesses.
East Herts provides aof actions you can take to reduce damp and mould in your property.
Make sure you have followed this guidance before you report the problem to us.
What are the tenant's responsibilities?
Appropriate action should be taken by the tenant to reduce damp and mould. Tenants are advised to follow the above checklist. Remember that the only lasting cure for severe mould is to get rid of dampness.
It is important to ensure that associated health risks are minimised, lasting damage is not caused to your accommodation and that there is no damage to your personal belongings.
What are the landlord's responsibilities?
If you rent and have taken the appropriate action outlined in the above checklist, then get in touch with your landlord or housing association. Make sure you follow up an initial phone call or email with a letter. Keeping a record can help if you need to make a complaint. There is a sample letter to help with this on the Shelter website.
If the damp or mould is caused by an underlying repair issue, your landlord should arrange for the works to be done in a reasonable time.
Tell your landlord about the damp problem and any:
repair issues in the property
damage to furniture and belongings
impact on your health
What are East Herts Councils responsibilities?
We can take action in certain cases if you have already contacted your landlord or housing association and they have not fixed the damp problem. Environmental health may inspect your home and assess the risk to your health under the Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS).
You can report damp and mould using our online Report Damp and Mould Form.