Are Landlords Responsible for Damp Proofing?
Damp can be a distressing issue for people living in places which have it, and it can also be a headache for landlords if they do not act to deal with it. As damp proofing specialists based in Northwich, we know the sort of effects damp can have.
Under the new Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act, the rights of tenants are set out when it comes to how safe, healthy and free from anything harmful their rented accommodation is.
If a rented house or flat is not fit for human habitation, the tenant can take their landlord to court and the court can make the landlord put things right.
It should mean, therefore, that damp proofing is one of the fundamentals that landlords use to ensure they are managing their properties effectively, and looking after their tenants.
Causes of Damp
The root of many landlord and tenant disputes over damp and mould is often the cause of the damp itself.
Where damp is caused by condensation, for example, this may well be a result of the tenant’s lifestyle. This is because many daily, household activities can lead to increased moisture, such as cooking, hanging washing indoors or having a shower.
When moisture cannot escape, this forms condensation, which can then lead to damp and mould.
However, if the property has insufficient ventilation, then even if the tenant is opening windows, it may not be enough.
Furthermore, Southern Damp Proofing adds “where there is rising and penetrating damp due to structural issues, then the landlord must arrange for the professional diagnosis to begin sorting the problem out, which can involve damp proofing.”
Health Effects of Damp and Mould
Prolonged exposure to high levels of dampness indoors can have health implications.
Where mould accumulates, inhaling its spores can cause nasal congestion, wheezing, tightness in the chest, an irritated throat and coughing.
People can spend as much as 16 hours a day at home, so if conditions are damp this amounts to prolonged exposure to them. This can reduce lung function and, for people already with conditions such as asthma or allergies, make things much worse.
The World Health Organisation has stated that a significant proportion of childhood asthma cases worldwide are due to indoor dampness and mould.
Being in damp and mouldy surroundings can also affect people’s sense of wellbeing, leading to depression.
Under the Homes Act, tenants suffering from these conditions due to damp could decide to take their landlords to court.
Landlords and Damp
Landlords must take their responsibilities seriously, not just for the welfare of their tenants, but for their own peace of mind, and to avoid facing legal penalties and repair bills.
The first thing to do with damp or mould is to accurately identify the cause. Once identified, it is then vital to take preventative measures such as damp proofing.
Rising damp, where dampness is a structural problem, comes from groundwater rising through the capillaries in the masonry of a building.
These capillaries are fine, elongated tubes found in brickwork, of varying diameter. In fact, the smaller the diameter, the more likely that moisture will rise through it, due to the increased surface tension.
This capillary action causes moisture to rise, which then leads to damp.
How Damp Proofing Works
A damp proofing course (DPC) involves creating a waterproof barrier using high-strength damp-proofing creams.
This cream, known as Dryzone®, is silicon-based and forms a water-repellent network within the capillaries of the masonry.
What is also does is allow the walls of the structure to breathe, because it is permeable to water vapour.
Other Causes of Damp
The reason why landlords should get professional support with diagnosing damp in a property is that damp can have various causes.
Rising damp is one, but another is penetrating damp, where patches appear on walls, ceilings or floors. This is more common in older properties which have solid rather than cavity walls.
The causes of this damp may be different, but for tenants, the experience can be as unpleasant as with other forms of damp.
Again, landlords must be prepared to act, in their tenants’ interests, as well as in their own.
After all, as a landlord, you are in the business of property, and your property is where your investment lies. Anything which damages the value and profitability of this business is a threat.
This applies as much to reputational damage as it does to structural damage from damp, which is why you need professional help for your damp proofing.