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There is a duty of care, incumbent upon Central Government, upon every Westminster or Local Government Politician, upon every Local Authority Housing Director, Environmental Health Officer, Architect, Surveyor or Technical Officer, upon every Landlord and Managing Agent, to ensure that people do not have to live in damp polluted homes.


The main responsibility rests with every Environmental Health Officer, because they have the power to ensure that any property affected by dampness, condensation and mould growth is declared unfit for habitation. Indeed under the Environmental Protection Act, on the grounds of Statutory Nuisance, and under the fitness guidelines of other current Housing Acts, he has an absolute duty of care to do so.


Mould is now classed as a statutory nuisance, and so to rent a property with a mould contamination could cause a few problems for you as the landlord, equally if you try to sell the property it may stop the sale due to the unsightly looking stains on the walls etc. and the fact that most people will think that there is a problem with the property due to the contamination.

Mould in all of its guises requires very little nutrient to grow on walls and ceilings, irrespective of the decorative finishes. Mould spores will also create a further risk to health when they become airborne.



Damp, Condensation and Mould in Rental Property


A LandlordZONE  article


This is a common problem in homes. Older properties tend to suffer more than new ones, but rental properties are particularly prone.

The problem is often a matter of degree: from a small patch of mould or discoloured wallpaper behind the wardrobe, in the very top corner of a bedroom, to serious amounts of mould growth across walls, inside wardrobes and on clothes, furnishings, carpets and in basements.


Mould is a serious problem for both Landlord and Tenant:

It’s a serious problem because of the health risks associated with mould spores. The mould fungi have been identified as the source of many health problems, including infections, asthma, allergies and sinusitis. Moulds produce allergens, irritants, and in some cases, toxins that may cause reactions in humans.


In the USA mould has resulted in numerous lawsuits and substantial damages awards. So much so that US insurance companies are now excluding mould related claims from their casualty, property and environmental insurance policies. The exert below from a US legal conference introduction shows how seriously the problem is now being taken in the US:

“Toxic mold [mould] claims are rising – and some experts believe that we have only seen the tip of the iceberg in the case of commercial property claims. The toxicity of mold has become a source of complex environmental litigation, a public health issue and a trap for legal counsel acting on a purchasing or financing. The costs of remediation have escalated to unprecedented levels. Insurance coverage disputes, as well as a conflicting quilt of new legislative and regulatory approaches, make toxic mold claims even more complex”


The problem is complex and insidious, and is a particular worry to landlords because of these potential legal claims.

UK legal cases so far have been much smaller in number but the ones that have been brought have seldom been straightforward and liability has just as often fallen on the occupants (tenants) as it has on the owners (landlords). The US experience shows that the situation could be about to change here.


Who is Liable?

Causes of mould growth from straightforward building defects are without doubt the landlord’s responsibility in a residential property. This may be different in commercial properties where the tenant takes on repairing responsibilities.


Damp, Condensation and Mould in Rental Property LandlordZONE - 2005 Page 3 of 11

Even years later, once the conditions are allowed to deteriorate again, without the property having undergone thorough eradication treatment, the mould can quickly re-appear.


Condensation is generally noticeable where it forms on non-absorbent surfaces (i.e. windows, window sills, mirrors or tiles) but it can form on any surface and it may not be noticed until mould growth or rotting of material occurs.


Mould is a serious problem, and since 2004 mould has become a class one hazard, which is the same class as asbestos, local authorities and letting agents are legally obligated to ensure that their properties are free from damp and mould.

It is advised that it is not removed without wearing personal protection equipment and respiratory apparatus.