Condensation and Mould- Who is Responsible?
Condensation is created when vapour in the air turns into a liquid. It forms on a cold surface when humid air is surrounding it e.g. on cold windows when the heating is on. Mould is the resulting fungal growth which appears when condensation is left to build up in a particular area. This is most commonly seen on the edges of window sills where condensation runs down and accumulates.
The reason why this is so difficult to explain is because it’s all invisible. Tenants often assume that the property has damp and that’s causing the issue rather than the fact that their lifestyle or the way they like to live is causing condensation which then turns into mould.
So this begs the question- what creates condensation?
- Excess moisture in the property. This can be caused by lots of things, the main culprits being:
- Bathrooms and drying laundry inside
- Cooking- Steam is created from boiling water on a hob or from kettle.
- Breathing- Surprisingly this creates an awful lot of condensation- the more people and animals living in a property, the more condensation that will be released.
- Lack of ventilation
- Opening windows helps to bring in drier air from outside and lets moist air escape
- Lack of extractor fans in bathrooms and kitchens or if a tenant turns off the isolator switches for these fans off.
- Turning the heating up without ventilating
- Warm air traps condensation more than cold. Tenants often think that by them having the house really warm it should dry the property when it potentially has the opposite effect. It is also made worse by heating one room and leaving others cold- this will produce condensation in the unheated rooms.
What do you do to prevent condensation and mould?
- Make sure you wipe down any surfaces with condensation forming on a regular basis.
- Use an anti- mould product which you can buy from supermarkets and DIY shops.
- Open windows and trickle vents to allow condensation to escape.
- Dry laundry outside as much as possible. If you have to dry inside then make sure a window is left open.
- Do not over-fill cupboards or rooms- too much stuff means air cannot circulate
- Make sure you open curtains and blinds daily- keeping them shut will trap condensation behind them.
- Always use extractor fans- yes they can be noisy but get if it bothers you that much get into the habit of flicking it on before your shower/bath and then off again after 5-10 minutes of finishing.
Ultimately if it can be proved that tenants have created condensation and not ventilated adequately then they will be responsible for any damage or cleaning needed during at the end of the tenancy.