How to Prevent Damp and Mould in a Rented Property

This page is part of our guide to renting in the UK – Check out more of our awesome content here.

There are four different types of damp that may affect tenanted homes in the UK:

  • Rising damp
  • Penetrating damp
  • Leaks
  • Condensation damp

The first three are almost always the responsibility of the landlord to remedy.

Seeking advice from a reputable tradesperson or chartered surveyor will often reveal the cause of the damp and the steps needed to resolve it.

If you’re not sure which type of damp is affecting your home, explore our in-depth damp guide here.

The fourth type, condensation damp, is a little more tricky to diagnose as in many cases, it’s actually the lifestyle of the tenants that is causing or making worse the damp (think drying clothes on radiators, not opening windows, not using extractor fans).

Of course, there are cases where lack of built-in ventilation would be the primary cause of condensation damp, and that would be the responsibility of the landlord to remedy (think lack of window vents, kitchen and bathroom extractor fan vents etc).

As condensation damp is so common, the rest of this page will be dedicated to preventing it.

As it’s extremely unlikely that tenants will change their lifestyle habits, this page will contain actionable steps any landlord can take.

Did you know?

The average home produces over 10 litres of moisture into the air each day and one in five homes in the UK suffers from condensation during the winter months.

How to Diagnose Condensation Damp

Condensation forms when moist air comes into contact with a cold surface such as a mirror, wall, window or ceiling.

This type of damp is often seen in winter, especially during periods of very cold weather.

The first symptoms are wet walls, windows and ceilings.

Over time, if the surfaces are not frequently dried with a cloth or towel, this moisture will create a perfect breeding ground for black mould.

Condensation around window

Excessive condensation around the windows can lead to mould and damage

5 Simple Steps ANY Landlord Can Take to Solve Condensation Damp

Below you’ll find five practical steps any landlord can take to get rid of condensation damp:

1) Install a Drimaster Condensation Control System

I’ve been raving about this product for years. I’ve seen first hand how it removes stale damp air from properties and is perfect for tenants that produce a lot of moisture in the home and refuse to open the windows.

I consider this to be the “nuclear” option, it’s perfect for homes that have excessive levels of condensation that is likely to damage the plasterboard if left unchecked.

The video below summarises how this long-term solution works:

Key Points:

  • Uses only a very small amount of electricity.
  • Can be switched off in the summer when the windows are more likely to be opened.
  • Quiet and passive.
  • Improves air quality in the home.
  • Needs to be installed in the ceiling by an electrician.
  • Only suitable for homes with lofts – there are other similar products on the market.
  • Once installed the landlord can prove they have taken steps to resolve the condensation damp.
Read Customer Reviews of the Drimaster Here

2) Insert a Clause Preventing The Tenants From Drying Clothes on Radiators.

Wet clothes from a single washing machine cycle can still contain over 2 litres of water and this moisture has to go somewhere.

If the tenants refuse to open the windows, which is understandable in the winter, this moisture is likely to condensate on cold surfaces such as uninsulated walls, pipes, windows and window frames.

Inserting a clause into the tenancy agreement that prevents tenants from drying clothes on radiators is only reasonable and practical if the landlord provides another way for the clothes to be dried.

A vented tumble dryer is a reasonable solution that will make the tenants lives easier, prevent disputes and resolve condensation damp on walls.

Many washing machines also contain a drying function. These are called Washer-Dryers and are perfect for small kitchens.

A small upfront expense at the cost of the landlord can prevent costly condensation and also proves the landlord has taken reasonable steps to resolve the problem.

Just make sure any tumble dryers or similar white goods are fully vented, i.e. they shouldn’t release moisture into the home.

3) Be Careful When Upgrading Wall and Loft Insulation

In an effort to meet EU targets, the UK government has been pressing homeowners to install cavity insulation and top up any existing insulation in the loft space.

The right amount of insulation can reduce your energy bills and keep the ceiling and walls warmer so less condensation will form.

Unfortunately, too much insulation can also help to trap moisture in the home, where it then condensates on cold surfaces.

If your property already has issues with condensation, it may get worse if you make the home more airtight.

Read: is it possible to over insulate a home?

4) Window Trickle Vents

If you are a landlord, the easiest and cheapest way to introduce an airflow into a home is to install window trickle vents and remind your tenants to use them in the window when they are less likely to open the windows.

These plastic strips don’t come as standard on new installations of double and triple glazing windows but are fairly easy to install.

Here is a photo, you’ve probably seen these before:

Window trickle vents cost around £5 per window and take less than half an hour to install.

Read reviews and check prices here.

5) Kitchen and Bathroom Extractor Fan Vents

There are two locations where extractor fans can often be found:

Kitchen

Cooker hood extractor fans come in two flavours:

Circulating fans pull the air through a filter and then back out into the kitchen. This type of fan is common in flats and kitchens that are located near the centre of the building i.e. where it would impossible to fit ducting to an external outlet. Circulating fans are the least effective and typically just move air around the room.

Ducted fans work in the same way, except the waste air is ducted to an external wall and then outside the home. This type of fan is much more efficient and perfect for tenants that cook without opening the windows.

Bathrooms

Bath and shower rooms create plenty of moisture that will condensate and contribute to damp and mould if the windows (if any exist) aren’t opened frequently.

Installing a good quality ducted extractor fan, that crucially, is wired to the light switch (so comes on with the internal light), will certainly help to remove the moisture.

Summary

Lifestyle is the number one cause of condensation-related damp and mould in tenanted homes.

Proving who has caused the damage isn’t easy though as there are steps any landlord can take to vent the rooms and tenants may have a valid reason for not opening the windows – fear of pollution, very cold outside or perhaps they have a newborn child and want to keep the property warm.

The suggestions on this page can help prevent the build-up of condensation, especially if the landlord has tenants that refuse to open the windows during the winter months.