Damp is caused by excessive moisture levels which create conditions in which mould and bacteria thrive. Moulds release tiny airborne seeds called spores when the temperature rises in a damp environment, and are inhaled into the lungs or sinuses by anybody in the vicinity.
Once inhaled these spores can cause a wide range of health issues, particularly infections, allergies and respiratory illnesses, as well as sore throats, coughs, sneezing, headaches, migraines, nausea and sinus problems. They can trigger asthma attacks and lead to a permanent asthmatic condition developing, which is particularly worrying for parents with babies or young children. Pre-existing medical conditions and illnesses can also be made significantly worse by exposure to damp and mould.
Tenants’ quality of life at a damp property can deteriorate dramatically as a result of persistent flu-type symptoms and related issues such as sleeping difficulties and having clothes, curtains and carpets ruined by mould (compensation awards will include damage to personal property and possessions). Another major factor for parents can be the emotional strain of living in an unhealthy domestic environment with young children, when complaints to the local council are ignored and no action is taken to deal with the problem.
Mould at local council properties is normally the result of guttering and roofing problems, rising damp or water leaking from pipes. A rotten window frame or cracked wall may also result in penetrating damp at a rented property. Landlords have a statutory legal duty to repair the exterior and structure of rented properties under Section 11 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985. This includes the roof, walls, windows, doors and guttering. They must also repair damage to installations at properties which may contribute to the spread of damp and mould, including water and gas pipes, boilers, basins, sinks and toilets.
Council tenants can contact their local authorities and arrange for an inspection of their property by an environmental housing officer who will assess the property under the Housing Health and Safety Rating System. If damp and mould at a rented property is judged to be a health hazard, the council can be held responsible and served with an improvement notice obliging them to remedy the problem. With both rising and penetrative damp, this may involve a damp proof course and/or an adequate system of ventilation being installed. If the council fails to deal with the issue within a reasonable time frame, the tenant will then have grounds for taking legal action.
Damp and mould at a rented property is capable of causing serious ill health, even for adults with healthy immune systems, and various other problems in the lives of tenants. Our housing disrepair solicitors specialise suing for damp and mould at local council properties. Contact our team for a free consultation and to get started making a claim against your landlord.
Our firm was contacted by a married couple living in a local council flat with their young son. Rotten window frames at the property had caused water to leak down the interior walls, resulting in penetrating damp and patches of mould. The couple had informed their landlord about the problem on numerous occasions, but despite promises being made, no repair work had been carried out. Clothes and furnishings in the bedroom had been damaged by mould and mildew, and eventually the family were unable to use the room altogether due to health concerns.
The couple did not want to give their landlord notice and leave the property, due to the time and expense of moving, and the fact that their son was settled at the local school. After Bartletts Solicitors was instructed to take legal action, repair work was swiftly carried out by the landlord and we were also able to obtain compensation for the family for the damage to their clothes and personal possessions, as well as for the ordeal they had been put through for months while living in substandard accommodation.