Is Mould a Landlord Issue?

Published:
July 30, 2023
Last updated:
February 19, 2024
A living room with a couch and a table.

Is mould a landlord’s responsibility?

First things first, renting out a property with mould is a common problem. Almost a million households in the UK have mould issues; you're not alone.  

The ugly truth is that every private landlord will eventually face the dreaded mould issue. So, it's your job to understand what your responsibilities are when it comes to renting a house with mould. 

Mould can be a real headache for landlords, and at Hybr, we see it as our role to make things that little bit easier for you. That's why we've answered the nitty gritty details of whether mould is a landlord issue so you can understand exactly what you're responsible for.  

Who is responsible for mould, the landlord or the tenant? 

The simple answer is renting out a house or student accommodation with mould is always a landlord issue. Landlords are legally responsible for fixing a mould issue if it's a repair issue or impacting the tenant's health. Tenants are responsible for condensation problems due to poor daily household ventilation. 

The complication is that it's notoriously difficult to identify the cause of mould and, therefore, tricky to understand who is at fault. When mould is spotted in a property, a tenant is responsible for raising it with the landlord. The landlord is then responsible for determining how to fix the issue. 

Below is what landlords need to know when tenants say there is mould in a student house or rented accommodation. 

What happens if you don’t fix the mould issue? 

UK Parliament reports that there are ‘several legal remedies tenants might use if the issue isn’t resolved’. Read the short guide provided to tenants on understanding their rights when living in damp and mouldy homes. 

If a tenant reports a mould problem, you must promptly investigate the issue and take steps to remediate the problem. It may involve hiring a professional mould removal company, fixing leaks or ventilation issues, and ensuring that the property is properly ventilated. 

What you’re responsible for as a landlord 

Follow the steps to understand what responsibility you have to follow as a landlord when there’s a mould issue in your property.  

1: Respond within 14 days 

As a landlord, you'll want to act fast when a tenant raises a mould issue. 

Once a tenant has reported a problem, you are legally obliged to respond within 14 days. You must state in writing what you plan to do and by when. If a landlord does not respond to a tenant after two weeks, they can report the problem to their Local Authority, who can issue the landlord a notice to fix the mould.

To avoid any unnecessary escalation, arrange to visit the property as soon as possible. Most tenants want to feel reassured that the issue is, at the very least, being acknowledged, so even if you cannot identify the cause, communicate in writing your next steps to fix the problem.  

2: Investigate the problem 

There are three types of mould commonly found in rented properties, and as a landlord, you essentially have a responsibility for two: rising damp and penetrating damp. The third is condensation, where responsibility is more of a grey area. 

  • Rising Damp

Rising damp is a common problem when moisture from the ground rises through the walls of a building. The signs of rising dampness include a tide mark on the walls, peeling wallpaper, damp patches, and a musty smell. 

  • Penetrating Damp

Penetrating damp is a form of moisture that enters a building through its walls, roof, or floors. The signs include damp patches on walls or ceilings, peeling paint or wallpaper, and mould growth.

  • Condensation

Condensation happens when moisture in the air comes into contact with cold surfaces, leading to water droplets and mould growth. Condensation is considered a structural issue if your rental property is poorly insulated or the ventilation or heating system is faulty. But condensation can also be caused by tenants' lifestyle habits. The signs include water droplets on windows, damp patches on walls or ceilings, mould growth, and musty smells.

3: Understand your legal responsibility 

Under the Housing Act 2004, as a landlord, you must ensure that your rental properties are fit for living. 

UK GOV has a Housing health and safety guide designed for non-specialists, especially private landlords, to understand legal responsibility. We suggest all landlords read this, but when it comes to the question of is mould a landlord's responsibility, there are some need-to-know things:

  • Structural faults
    Under section 11 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985, when a tenant informs you of a mould problem, you are legally obligated to solve the issue if it falls under structural faults. The type of mould caused by structural faults includes rising damp and penetrating damp. 
  • Health and safety for your tenants
    Mould and damp can very easily become a health and safety hazard for your tenants. Health and safety risks for a rented property are assessed by local councils using the Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS). There are also additional health and safety requirements for housing in multiple occupations (HMO), which include shared student housing.UK Gov says 'hazards are rated according to how serious they are and how likely they affect someone’s health and safety. There are two types of hazards – category 1, which are the most serious, and category 2.' Damp and mould on the walls or ceilings are category 1 hazards. 

4: Communicating your tenant’s responsibility 

If the mould in the property is caused by interior condensation, the tenant is responsible for making some household changes. The everyday causes include: 

  • Drying wet clothes inside without opening a window 
  • Showering or having a bath without any ventilation
  • Cooking without opening the window
  • Not heating the property sufficiently

You’ll want to share these with your tenants in writing, asking them to address and monitor the improvement to identify whether this was the cause. 

Make managing your rentals easier 

As we discussed, while mould is very much a landlord issue - it's important to note that tenants also have a responsibility. They must take reasonable steps to prevent mould growth. So to avoid mould becoming an increasing headache, find tenants who love and take care of your properties. 

At Hybr, we find vetted, supported, and great tenants for your properties in a matter of days. We keep tenants throughout their rental journey, taking the onus off you and making renting effortless. Our mission is to help renters be the best renters possible — we equip them with regular advice and support to ensure they understand their responsibilities as tenants, such as sharing advice on the best way to ventilate your property. Find out what makes us different and make managing your rentals that little bit easier.

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