Nobody likes mould. Not one bit. It’s ugly, a pain in the posterior to get rid of, and perhaps most importantly, it can have serious health implications.
Mould then is unsurprisingly a serious source of tension for many landlords and tenants. In autumn and winter, a prolific number of properties fall victim to mould spores, and if this is not dealt with promptly and properly it can spread rapidly and become a serious issue.
But who’s responsibility is it to deal with mould?
The day to day maintenance of the property in many ways falls to the tenant. Things like keeping the property clean and tidy, ensuring that larger maintenance tasks are reported to the landlord and that the property doesn’t fall into general disarray.
Mould can and most often is caused by a property being poorly heated and/or not ventilated well. Keeping windows open, using a dehumidifier and having the heating on during the colder months will largely prevent any recurring mould infestations.
This being said, if the properties central heating doesn’t work well or is inefficient, and the weather is cold, tenants are likely going to use their heating as little as possible to keep bills down and windows shut to keep the heat in. There we have a problem.
If the mould is caused by something wrong with the property then it falls invariably to the landlord to sort it out, and promptly. For example, the side of the house might need repointing which is allowing dap to seep in from outside. There is little that the tenant in this scenario can do to solve this issue and it’s likely the mould will keep returning until the structural issue is resolved.
As we talk about above, who is responsible depends on the cause. Unfortunately working out the root cause of the mould is tricky at best. It’s hard o prove that there are structural issues with the building without doing an expensive survey, or without being in the property watching the actions of the tenants.
The key point here is that it’s always going to be very difficult to prove whether the mould was caused by inadequate heating or something else without getting an official assessment from a damp expert.
Essentially what this all means is that it falls to the tenant to sensibly deal with the mould that appears. They should report the mould to their landlord, take pictures and then without further ado clean it all off. Leaving any mould behind will likely mean it regrows. They should use bleach on all sites of the mould to thoroughly kill the mould colonies.
The problem is we still don’t know the cause of the issue. I normally offer advice along the lines of open windows and turn the heating on more frequently as well as offering to get the tenants a dehumidifier as an inexpensive placatory gesture. However, this won’t solve the issue if the issue is structural or the tenant continues to ventilate and heat the property poorly.
If it’s not obvious that the mould was caused by a leak or structural damage, then it’s most likely that the reason is due to the temperate not being adequately controlled by the tenant, consequently, the cost of redecorating can be deducted from the tenant’s deposit.
Absence of evidence to prove that the problem is structural will suggest that the most likely cause is ventilation or heating. This makes it the tenants responsibility to clean the property and take appropriate actions such as heating the property more and opening windows.