Damp Problems in Rented Property

21 December, 2020
What can you do about damp problems in rented property?

Damp is a common problem throughout the UK and is very common in rented properties. There are different types of damp problems, and the landlord is often responsible, but not always.

But landlords do have to meet certain damp-proofing standards. If not, then as a tenant you may be able to claim against your landlord for neglecting their responsibilities.

Types of Damp and How to Recognise Them

Rising Damp

Rising damp is what most people think of when they hear the word damp. It is moisture left to rise 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

Penetrating damp is where moisture passes through walls or floor. This type of damp may also occur though roofs and windows and can affect any floor in a building, not just the ground floor.

It’s caused when water soaks into porous surfaces, such as brickwork. And it is often due to leaking or overflowing pipes and gutters, or poorly installed cavity wall insulation getting saturated. 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 they may be higher up. Penetrating damp may be seen as 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 and 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.

Condensation Damp

Condensation damp is caused by 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.

Who is Responsible for Damp in a Rented Property?

Often, your landlord will be responsible for dealing with damp problems in your rented property. Condensation damp is the most common exception to this, but is dependent on your specific situation.

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.

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Can You Claim for Damp Problems?

If your landlord isn’t keeping your home fit to live, ignoring damp problems that they are responsible for, you could make a housing disrepair claim.

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 believe you have a damp problem, you must notify your landlord in writing and give them a chance you put things right. 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.

We generally recommend allowing 6 weeks notice for your landlord to fix the issues. 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 may be entitled to a claim against your landlord.

You can get an estimate of how much you could claim with our claim value calculator.

If you would like to make a claim for damp problems, or any other disrepair your landlord is ignoring, please call us on 01925 351 350. We may be able to help you make a no win no fee claim to get repairs done and get you compensation.

Matthew Scanlon

Matthew Scanlon

With over 6 six years experience working in law, Matthew oversees the majority of the firm's no win no fee and litigation cases. In particular, Matthew specialises in housing and property matters, including disrepair claims, unprotected deposit claims, and more.

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