Damp and mould
Your home should be free from damp and mould problems
Dealing with mould
Most homes in the UK will get small isolated patches of mould spots, especially during the winter. It is very important that you try to stop damp problems getting so bad that they damage your health. Severe mould growth can be a health problem, especially for people with asthma and other chest problems.
Stage 1 – take action to stop the mould becoming a problem
Condensation is the most common form of damp in rented properties. Condensation appears when moisture in the air comes into contact with a cold surface, such as a window or a cold wall. Mould can then grow on damp walls and window frames.
There are many things you can do to help the situation yourself, and this is always the first thing you should do.
It can help if you:
- keep a lid on pans when cooking
- use extractor fans provided
- dry clothes outdoors if possible
- keep the door closed and window open when drying clothes indoors
- try to keep your home properly and evenly heated. Regular heating keeps the walls and other surfaces warm and reduces the risk of condensation.
You can treat mould growth to remove it and stop it getting worse. Use a fungicidal wash, available from DIY shops or supermarkets.
Don't try to brush or vacuum mould. This releases it into the air and could make breathing problems worse.
For more information please see:
Stage 2 – ask your landlord for help
If you follow the advice in stage 1 and that does not solve the problem, ask your landlord to help. You should ask in writing – it’s best to use an email, a text or a letter – and then keep a copy. Tell your landlord exactly what the problem is and where it is. Explain what you have done already to try to solve the problem if you can. Ask politely. Most landlords will want to help.
You may find it useful to use Shelter’s template letter.
The law says that your landlord must fix damp caused by problems such as:
- a leaking roof, gutter or cracked wall
- leaking pipes
- rotten window frames
- broken heaters
- damp-proofing that is old or defective - this is often the cause of damp on ground floor and basement flats.
If these aren’t the cause of the damp, check your tenancy agreement. Your landlord must deal with the problem if the agreement says they are responsible for keeping your home in a good condition or fit to live in.
Your landlord should do something to improve the situation even if your tenancy agreement doesn't say anything about their responsibility for conditions in your home. For example, your landlord could:
- provide a de-humidifier
- install ventilation
- improve the insulation of your home.
Stage 3 – take action
If you have written to your landlord telling them about the problem and they still have not done anything, you need further help.
It may be possible to take legal action against your landlord to force them to carry out repairs or to compensate you.
How we can help
If your landlord is not doing enough to solve the damp or mould problem, and you think the conditions are putting your health at risk, the council can assess whether your home is safe and take action if it is not.
Call Tower Hamlets Council - Environmental Health and Housing team on 020 7364 5000 or email Environmental.Protection@towerhamlets.gov.uk
If you demonstrate how the damp and mould are an immediate risk to your safety or your health, we will arrange to inspect your home urgently.
In most cases, though, we will write to your landlord first. We will give your landlord three weeks to deal with the problem. This is usually enough to solve the problem. If after three weeks you tell us that your landlord has not responded to our letter, we will inspect your home.
After inspecting your home, we will take action. The action we take will depend on the kind of problem you have, but if we find conditions that are a risk to your health, we will issue a formal notice to the landlord. If the landlord does not take action after this, we will either prosecute or fine your landlord.
In extreme situations, we may make repairs ourselves or make an order prohibiting your landlord from letting the property any more.
We promise that we will keep you informed of the progress of any action we take.
All of the agencies signed up to the Tower Hamlets Private Renters’ Charter promise to find the best way to improve your situation and the most effective action to take against landlords who break the rules.