January Advice Column

As the weather has turned colder, I’ve noticed mould and damp in our flat. It’s mainly in our bedroom, including some black mould on the carpet. I’ve been chasing our letting agency, who say they’ll speak to our landlord. I’m really worried about how this might affect our health. Our tenancy agreement isn’t up for eight months, what can I do?

It’s good that you’ve already raised the issue with your letting agency. Unfortunately, it isn’t always easy to work out the cause of mould or damp This can make it difficult to work out if your landlord is responsible, unless there’s an obvious cause, like a leaking roof.

There are many causes of damp that properties can get. The most common are rising, penetrating, construction and condensation damp. On our website there is information that may help you work out what type of damp you have, who is responsible and what you can do. Check your tenancy agreement too for mentions of repairs and damp, and reach out to Citizens Advice on anything you’re unsure about.

A landlord will have to act in relation to damp if it makes the property unsafe for someone to live in. This could be for example, if it is making the tenant or a member of their family ill. The landlord will also be responsible if the damp is related to repairs they should have carried out, like if heaters are broken. If the damp has damaged items that the landlord is responsible for, such as carpets and window frames, they’ll likely have to cover the cost of repairs.

One of the most common causes of damp is condensation. To prevent this, it’s important to keep homes well-heated and well-ventilated, but for a lot of people this will be trickier to do given the colder weather and higher heating costs. You may be eligible for help to insulate and heat your home, and should visit our website to find out more.

On our website we also have advice on things that can make damp worse and may impact the landlord taking responsibility for repairs. These include drying clothes on heaters or blocking air vents.

If your landlord is responsible for the damp in your property but doesn’t act, there are steps you can take, such as reporting them to the local authority. If you’re in social housing you might also be able to use the landlord’s formal complaints procedure. There is more information about this on our website. If it reaches the point where you want to get out of a fixed term tenancy agreement early, do speak to an adviser first, as there might be better ways to approach the issue.

Contact your local Citizens Advice on 0808 278 7948 for personalised support. You may also find helpful information on: https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/housing/renting-privately/during-your-tenancy/dealing-with-repairs/

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