Damp is a common problem throughout the UK. It is very common in rented properties. There are different types of damp problems and sometimes the landlord isn’t responsible. But landlords do have to meet certain damp-proofing standards.
So, if you believe you have damp problems in your rented property, keep reading to find out how to recognise damp and what you can do about it.
Types of Damp and How to Recognise Them
Rising damp is what most people think of when they hear the word damp. In fact, rising damp is just one of several different types of damp. It is moisture left to rise vertically through construction walls or floors from wet ground below. Most homes have a damp-proof course, or DPC, to prevent rising damp. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. The landlord may be allowing damaged, incorrectly installed, or entirely absent DPC.
You can normally recognise rising damp by the tell-tale tide marks, sometimes reaching up to 1 metre above ground level. Wet staining may also be visible, as well as peeling wallpaper or even black mould. Because rising damp rarely rises above 1 metre, you will not usually find it above the ground floor level.
Your landlord will usually be responsible for putting this right.
Penetrating damp is where moisture passes through walls or floor. This type of damp may also occur though roofs and windows.
It’s caused when water soaks into porous surfaces, such as brickwork. And, it is often due to leaking or overflowing pipes and gutters. Other causes might be poorly installed cavity wall insulation getting saturated, or leaking overflow pipes or toilet cisterns. The result is that water will soak through walls and into the house, causing damp. You will find localised damp patches in different areas, rather than just one wall, and may be higher up.
Penetrating damp may affect any floor in a building, not just the ground floor. You may recognise penetrating damp by plaster damage, mould, or blotchy damp patches on walls.
Once again, putting this right is something expected of your landlord.
Damp Due to Leaks or Flooding
Leaks or flooding can cause damp problems. These leaks may be from the roof or windows. Flooding might be coming from blocked gutters or backed up drains. Sometimes hidden leaks such as burst drains or water mains under your house are the cause of the problem. A leaking bath or leak from the flat above you might also be the cause.
Often, the responsibility for these causes lies with landlord, and their maintenance of the rented property.
The cause of condensation damp is excess moisture in your home which condenses on a cool surface. This can become problematic in buildings prone to condensation. In that case, the moisture will settle in certain areas of a building such as windows or outside walls. Signs include dark or discoloured patches, damp feeling walls, floors, or ceilings, and excessive condensation on windows.
This is the most difficult type of damp to take up with your landlord. They will often say that the condensation is caused by the tenant, weather, or design of the property. But, in many cases we can still help you.
Landlord Responsibilities for Damp Problems
Often, your landlord will be responsible for dealing with damp problems in your rented property. Whether or not your lease states so, the law says that the landlord must keep the structure of your home in repair. This will include ensuring that the structure of the building is not rotten with damp.
However, if your property did not have a damp-proof course when you signed your lease, installing one to prevent damp may not be classed as repair. Then, your landlord could consider the installation an improvement to you property. As could the court.
If you are unsure about which case applies to you, feel free to get in touch. Contact us to check if you can get the damp sorted out and we’ll be happy to advise you.
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What You Can Do About Damp Problems
If you believe you have a damp problem, you must notify your landlord in writing. If you haven’t given your landlord a chance to put the damp right, you won’t have a case. Also, you should check that you are doing all that you can to minimise damp. That could be by opening windows, using extractor fans and not drying lots of washing indoors.
Notice should generally be 2-4 weeks. So, submit a dated complaint about the damp in writing and wait for a response. If your landlord takes no action after a month, then you should seek legal advice as you may be entitled to a claim against your landlord.
Chris Rudd Solicitors can advise you if you have a good claim. We offer 15 minutes of advice completely free and can then help you progress your no win no fee claim.
After we have all the information, we will start your claim by sending a letter of claim for housing disrepair. From there, we will handle the negotiations with your landlord. This will all be in accordance with the Housing Disrepair Protocol.
At Chris Rudd Solicitors we will do our best to ensure we settle your claim and that you get the repairs done. But if not, we will continue to advise you whether it would be worth while issuing a claim at court. Doing so could still force your landlord to do the repairs.