Damp and mould in private rented homes
There are several reasons your home might be suffering from damp and mould. It is surprising how few reasons are related to major building defects.
This page is for tenants who privately rent their home.
If you are council tenant or leaseholder see our advice on our damp and mould in council homes page.
What causes damp and mould
Information and advice on what could be causing your problem:
If you spot signs of dampness
Tell your landlord immediately if you spot any signs of dampness. It will usually be their responsibility to fix the problem and make good any damage.
Your landlord should fix your damp or mould issue if it is:
- Caused by a repair problem
- Affecting your health and safety
Using your home in a reasonable way
You are expected to ventilate and heat your home properly so that damp doesn’t build up.
Your landlord should not make unreasonable demands. For example: asking you to dry your clothes outside when you don’t have access to outdoor space.
Case study – Deposit dispute over mould
This case highlights the importance of reporting issues as soon as the tenant notices them, and also of ventilating your rental property. You can read the full version of this case study here.
At the end of a tenancy, the check-out report recorded mould spots all over the bathroom ceiling and large patches of mould in the bedroom. The landlord requested £550 from the £1,200 deposit to cover removing mould and towards the redecoration cost.
The tenant said:
- There was mould in the bathroom at the start of the tenancy which got worse because the extractor fan did not work
- Mould started showing in the bedroom a few months into the tenancy, which was reported to the agent but there was no response
- They did their best to ventilate the property and remove the mould, but it kept coming back
The managing agent’s response was:
- While the landlord was aware of some mould in the bathroom, it got significantly worse while the tenant lived there, so they would like a contribution towards removing the mould and re-painting
- There is no record of the tenant reporting mould in the bedroom, which was only discovered at the pre-checkout inspection
- The decorator said that the mould in the bedroom appeared to have been caused by a lack of ventilation and not allowing airflow between items of furniture and the walls
The adjudicator decided that:
- The check-in report noted mould spots on the right-hand side of the bathroom ceiling at the start of the tenancy, with the décor in all other areas recorded as being in good condition. The bathroom extractor fan was ‘not tested’
- The tenant was not responsible for the mould spread in the bathroom. Although the evidence showed that the ceiling was left in a worse condition, mould was there at the start of the tenancy and mid-term property visits reported the slow spread of the spots, yet no work was ever carried out by the landlord to address the problem
The landlord was awarded 30% of the cost of redecorating the bedroom for 2 key reasons:
- The tenant was responsible for not reporting the issue
- The lack of ventilation, combined with the furniture being pushed too close to the wall, had exacerbated the problem
How the tenant could have avoided losing any of their deposit funds
In our opinion, if the tenant had taken the following steps, the adjudicator would be unlikely to have awarded any of their deposit funds to the landlord:
- Asked at check-in that the mould issue in the bathroom be resolved
- Requested that the extractor fan was fixed as soon as they realised it wasn’t working
- Taken a photograph of the mould in the bedroom and reported the problem to the agent in writing and then followed it up when they didn’t get a response
- Made sure that the bedroom and bathroom were properly ventilated
- Reported any additional mould growth in writing
What happens if my landlord doesn’t do anything?
If you report dampness and your landlord and they haven’t done anything about it, contact our Environmental Health Private Sector Housing Team for help and advice:
Please include the following details:
- Your name
- Your address
- Your telephone number
- Details of what the problem is