Who’s to blame for mould, the landlord or the tenant?
When nasty black mould spores appear in a rental property, who’s to blame, the landlord or the tenant?
Sometimes it’s caused by damp due water penetrating from outside, often because of leaking drainpipes, overflowing gutters or rising damp from below. If this is the case, it’s the landlord’s responsibility to sort it out.
However, black mould spores that appear on walls and ceilings, on bathroom tiles and around the sealant are often caused by a tenant’s lifestyle. If this is the case, they need to make some changes to their daily habits.
Mould can grow when warm, damp air hits cold walls, which is why it often occurs in bathrooms. That’s why you should always ventilate the room when you take a bath or shower. Bathrooms without windows that can easily be opened should have an extractor fan installed. If there’s no fan and no window, mould is almost inevitable.
Damp also frequently occurs on exterior bedroom walls and on window sills in the winter, mainly due to condensation caused by the occupants breathing and sweating during the night. You can prevent this by opening the windows during the day to ventilate the room and opening curtains so that you’re not creating a dark space for the mould to grow.
It’s also vital not to place beds – or any other fabric items – against outside walls, as this will trap moisture, making the wall mouldy. I once had a tenant who left a rucksack leaning against a cold bedroom wall and, because she wasn’t in the habit of opening the curtains or the window during the winter, when she moved the rucksack the wall was black!
If mould occurs on walls and ceilings, it can easily be wiped off with diluted bleach and a damp cloth. It’s much harder to shift from grout in the bathroom, although I’ve found that Dettol Mould & Mildew Remover works brilliantly, but I haven’t found anything that effectively removes black spores from bathroom sealant. When those dreaded black spores appear, you usually have to dig out the sealant, use a spray to kill the mould and replace it. I usually have to do this after every tenancy!
To try to avoid mould in rental properties,(and an argument about who’s to blame for mould!) make sure you check the gutters and drainpipes and also chimney stacks every winter to avoid any water penetration. Installing an extractor fan that ‘s wired into the bathroom light switch so it comes on automatically should also reduce the risk of it growing in bathrooms.
Remind tenants to keep the property adequately heated in winter, to ventilate rooms, open curtains during the day and to avoid drying clothes on radiators.
Giving them a squeegee (80p from Ikea!) to use to clear excess water from tiles and sealant in the shower could also reduce the risk of mould – assuming they actually use it!