How do I… make my private landlord fix my damp home?
Damp and mouldy homes are a significant health risk for everybody, and can present serious risks to those already suffering from conditions such as aspergillosis. It can sometimes be tricky getting your landlord to sort out problems in your home, so we’ve compiled some tips for asking your landlord to fix the damp.
Where is it?: Common places that Aspergillus may be found in the home include: damp walls, wallpaper, leather, filters and fans, humidifier water, potted plant soil and decomposing wood. It is often found in living rooms and bathrooms.
Try to find the underlying repair issue that is the source of the damp problem as it will give you more leverage if you can prove that the damp problem is not caused by you. Be wary if you are getting close to investigate the mould or trying to clean it – you should take precautions, such as wearing a face mask.
What to do/know: Read your tenancy agreement to try and work out whether your landlord is responsible for repairing the problem. Citizen’s advice has more information on damp and landlord responsibilities.
In some cases, a private landlord may decide to evict a tenant rather than do repair work. Make sure you know whether you’re at risk of eviction before taking action.
They might claim that you are responsible for the damp, and in the UK that is often partially true as some tenants refused to adequately ventilate their homes in winter. However there are usually measures that the landlord can take too. If this is the case, a compromise needs to be reached and in the UK there is a housing ombudsman service who can mediate these disputes
If you cannot reach an agreement, or you are still sure that the damp is not your responsibility, ask Environmental Health (in writing) to do an HHSRS assessment. In your letter mention that mould is a category 1 hazard, and give specific examples of how it is affecting the health of your family (and visitors, if relevant).
In some circumstances a report from an independent buildings surveyor may be useful.
Last resort: As a last resort, you could take court action. If you are considering court action it’s not enough just to show that your home is damp. You’ll have to show that the damp is there because either your landlord hasn’t met their repair responsibilities, or a damp problem has caused damage to your home which your landlord is responsible for repairing.
Further information can be found at: