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Tenants Can Now Sue Landlords Over Damp


As of March 20th2019, tenants now have the right to sue their landlords if their rented homes are suffering from damp under the new law. This will mean that if the landlord does not carry out necessary maintenance and repairs, the tenant will be able to take them to court where the judge can issue an injunction which will force the work to be carried out under the new Government Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2018.


Landlords will now have to ensure that their properties meet the law’s standards, and failure to do so will mean that they may face being taken to court by their tenants.  


Unfortunately, damp and poorly maintained homes are an issue for many renters throughout the country, with 5.8 million tenants having experienced damp and condensation in their homes. According to research carried out by Rentokil Property Care, this has led to 2 million tenants believing that they may have developed health problems as a result for their living conditions.


The research found that even though 33% of tenants had contacted their landlord asking them to rectify the issues, and of 51% of those asked, nothing was done to help. The study also revealed that while many landlords look to help their tenants with these problems, it takes them an average of 84 days to fix the problem. 


It has also been found that only 17% of tenants in England are aware that they could take action from this new act to ensure that where they are living is fit for habitation. 


The research also found that 44% of properties occupied did not have an extractor fan in the bathroom, and surprisingly 31% said they didn’t have a window in that room either. Not having the correct ventilation in the wettest room in a house is what causes the growth of mould and creates damp. However, according to Nicholas Donnithorne, who is the UK technical manager at Rentokil Property Care, tenants should take some responsibility for their home. He said:


 “An average family of four can produce up to 24 pints [14 litres] of water vapour in just 24 hours, and all that moisture has to go somewhere. When the air cools, condensation forms on cold surfaces at what is known as the ‘Dew Point’.”


The study also found that 20% of tenants do not use trickle vents to help create airflow within their homes, as well as 36% admitting that they do not turn on their central heating but wear more clothes instead to save money!


One of the main causes of condensation and damp in a home is because rooms are not very well ventilated or that they never get any fresh air in them. However, letting fresh air into your home is crucial when preventing mould growth and damp problems. 


Condensation can be caused by a number of factors, but one of the most common issues is due to people drying their clothes indoors. During the investigation, it has shown that 30% of tenants regularly dry their washing on radiators. 12% of tenants also said that they dry their clothes in the bathroom, an area where a lot of moisture already exists! This means that is there is already not proper ventilation, the water vapour released from the drying clothes can gather on cold surfaces and lead to mould growing in a room.


Donnithorne also said: 


“It’s important the homes people live in have adequate ventilation and heating facilities that enable the occupiers to take control of the amount of moisture they produce. Occupants must also better understand that their behaviour may be affecting the formation of condensation and damp.


Simple lifestyle changes such as drying clothes outside or leaving the window ajar could go a long way in helping to reduce issues and prevent mould growth.”


It is important that tenants are aware of this new law, but it also important that they do everything that they can to prevent extra moisture in their rented home. If you are a landlord, you should ensure that your property is up to the new standards as well as helping your tenants if any issues do arise. We have a lot of information on our website including our landlord guide. If you require any further information, then please do not hesitate to get in touch on 01837 54504.

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