Why is it that tenanted properties appear to be damper than those that are owner-occupied? Firstly, we’re talking about condensation here, not rising damp. Condensation is caused when warm air, which holds more water vapour, meets a cold surface, forming water droplets. This may attract fungal growths such as Mildew leading that “that damp smell”.
Tenants may not be as house-proud as owner-occupiers (although this is changing). As such, they might not spend so much time at home, meaning that less air circulates around the property, and they may not be quite so inclined to seek out the reason for any dampness and fix it. After all, it’s not their property.
Older properties without cavity wall-insulation may have colder walls and are therefore more prone to dampness. However, newer properties may be so well insulated that there is insufficient ventilation. Condensation can therefore occur in either.
Landlords have a responsibility to provide habitable accommodation so here are a few tips to help prevent the problem of damp:
1. Ensure the property is evenly heated and ask your tenant to ensure that the heating remains on a warm constant, rather than hot and cold, especially in the winter.
2. Maintain heating in all rooms, even if unoccupied.
3. Ask tenants to use lids on saucepans wherever possible if condensation is an issue.
4. Ask tenants to open a window if they are drying clothes indoors.
5. Ensure a con-condensing tumble dryer is adequately vented outside.
6. Use freestanding furniture rather than built in cupboards unless they are well ventilated, ideally from the rear.
7. Ensure there is adequate ventilation in areas of high moisture build-up and temperature differentials such as kitchen and bathroom.
8. “Force” ventilation using electric fans if necessary. Use timers or link to light switches to ensure they get used.
9. Install “trickle vents” in windows and make sure they remain open – even in winter.
10. Wipe away any mould (don’t disturb it by brushing or vacuuming it away) and treat it with a fungicide or use fungicidal paint.
As you might have guessed, as managing agents, we have a keen eye, and nose, for damp!