Rising damp

Any experts in rental law out there?

1 to 20 of 27 messages
04/08/2009 at 20:45

Any experts in house rental out there please?

Slugboy has just moved into his new student accommodation and has noticed a significant issue with damp (books that have been in the room for 3 days are already starting to curl at the edges). They have approached the letting agents who say they will get the rooms 'damp sealed' as a matter of 'priority' - but a friend who is a building surveyor says that this is next to no use anyway.

SB suffers from asthma and is concerned about the potential effect on his health.

Can anyone tell me what rights (or lack of) he has in this matter?

04/08/2009 at 21:01

No idea Slugsta but i hope it is resolved asap

no fun at all, contact CAB, good info available from them

04/08/2009 at 21:16

Basically get a reasonable timescale off the letting agent ie actual time not 'oh its a priority' and if they don't comply -call the private tenants team at his local council for advice and if its an approved landlord at his Uni - talk to the the accomodation team there if they don't comply to get them removed form teh approved list

04/08/2009 at 21:16
Not a legal expert just had a shitty landlord so have been through the mill abit
04/08/2009 at 22:09
It's worth checking what his lease says - extensive damp might break any "fit for purpose" type clause, at the very least there might be something in there that could at least get him out of the lease without any financial penalties being involved.

How exactly were they planning on damp sealing the rooms?! I'm an Architect and the only way to get rid of damp is to identify the source and remove the path (often this is quite simple - particularly in new builds by making sure there's no bridge between the ground and say render which would bypass the damp proof membrane and allow water ingress). If there's no way of finding the source or if it's a basement flat then they'd need to tank the whole flat which would cost them.

I spent a lot of time in some very dodgy flats as a student and I know first hand that damp and asthma is not a fun combination.

I hope he manages to get it all sorted out though finding a new flat might well be easiest. Good luck!
05/08/2009 at 06:29

It's a basement flat and I don't think the landlords are planning on doing anything which will cost megabucks.

It's a shame really. They had managed to find 2 adjacent houses for their gang of 16 and were all soooo excited. SB and his gf have the 2 basement rooms and shower all to themselves, so they were really looking forward to 'playing house' (SB is now 23, so it's high time he did so!). They're really disapointed to think that they might need to move out but c'est la vie!

05/08/2009 at 08:17

Are you sure that it is "damp " that is the problem? Have you looked at the ventilation aspect?

Are there trickle vents on the windows and are they open?

I've known student flats where the vents are not only shut but have been taped over to prevent draughts and hence save on heating costs. They then don't open the windows (often cause they have been painted shut) but proceed to dry washing in the rooms then wonder why condensation streams down the said windows.

If it is excess condensation it might be worth trying a dehumidifier to remove the water from the air.

05/08/2009 at 09:24

Personally, if it is a proper damp problem rather than condensation, I'd just find somewhere else to live!

Landlords are reluctant to spend huge money (who wouldn't be!), and it can all take a long while.

He can give notice, find somewhere else, get his deposit back and be sorted.

05/08/2009 at 09:34

Can you be sure it's rising damp?

I have been asked to assess cases of  rising damp twice in the last 3 days,neither were.

As onegoodleg says ventilation is generally an issue in basements there will also always be greater levels of residual moisture.

95% of damp issues that I get asked to view,are ventilation/air circulation issues.

Would suggest that the agent is apporched again & that you request that a surveyor visit the property with a view to offering an opinion that may well save the landlord/agent a lot of wasted money/time.

05/08/2009 at 10:59
Thirded on the condensation thing. I fitted ventilation fans to most of the council flats in Wapping for that very reason.
05/08/2009 at 19:23
No, I really don't know that it is rising damp. Will get SB to check out the ventilation and speak again to the letting agents. He has signed a year's contract so I'm not sure whether he can just give notice (typically, he can't lay his hands on the contract just now!).
05/08/2009 at 20:06

You might also want to check whether letting agents belong to association - used to be ARLA - not sure if still is.  You could check with them re your rights v letting agents.  I used to be both landlady and tenant, so have experience of both sides - as landlady, my letting agents didn't always pass on details of problems, so don't necessarily take everything letting agent says as gospel.

If damp is a problem with asthma, does Slugsta Jnr have a friendly GP who'd sign some form of medical document saying this is the case, so that you can use it to exert extra pressure?

You need to get exact time frame from letting agent, otherwise it will just fester. 

Re notice, you'd need to check, but if flat is not "fit for purpose" as said above, then I think that would negate contract, but, from memory, most insist that you remain in (or pay rent for) accommodation for at least first 6 months on 12 month contract. 

If you can get your hands on contract, you should also be able to see who is responsible for repairs etc, it's not always the agent, sometimes they just collect money, check references etc and leave repairs to landlord (as landlord often thinks it's cheaper than getting agent to fix). 

Whatever action you take, put it all in writing - whether email or letter - that way you've got a record of what was said/agreed and by whom. 

06/08/2009 at 08:59

SB has read this thread, so at least he has  a few ideas to start off with. Many thanks.

Dark Vader    pirate
06/08/2009 at 20:10

It sounds more like condensation..  this is very common actually and can be managed by proper ventilation, heating and thermal insulation.  In the short term, using a de-humdifier will control the excess humidity.  The De Longhi 10 is a good one and costs less than £100.   We have two in our cellar and they have been running 24 hrs/day for over two years and not a single problem.

Rising damp is totally different.

06/08/2009 at 21:06
I say go with the dehumidifyer. Worked wonders in my old flat. Also if mold appears wash walls with a dilute bleach solution. Kills the spores. Keep it well ventilated too. Good luck.
07/08/2009 at 07:50

The kids have been home for a few days but are going back to cheltenham this weekend. I've given strict instructions that they are to get the doors and windows open as much as they can and also have a good look to make sure there are no blocked ventilation grilles, air bricks etc in the 1st instance. They say there is a very damp patch on the wall, just above a drain, so it sounds as if there might be a specific problem there. The letting agents have promised to deal with that and the kids have asked for written confirmation of this, with a timescale for the work to be completed.

Fingers crossed!

07/08/2009 at 10:33

I take it that the damp patch is on an exterior wall? It may or may not be the problem.

I would still recommend using a dehumidifier, it can be scary how much water they can collect in 24hrs.

Good ventilation is probably the key, does the shower room (bathroom?) have a window or is it vented by an extractor fan?

Be aware that while windows may have trickle vents that are open they might not be effective. Curtains/blinds can render them no use by blocking the airflow, also adjacent buildings can interfere with the rate of airflow.

Hope this helps.

Good luck.

08/08/2009 at 04:22
No idea about the shower room, will get SB to check, ta.
08/08/2009 at 13:48
I spent my student years in Cheltenham, at the beginning of the nineties. For a period of 3 weeks, I stayed in a shared student house right in the centre of town. It was a listed building and owned by the slum landlord from Hell. He owned dozens of properties which he let to students, and made a fortune on. This particular house was in an advanced state of decay. The upper rooms all suffered from a leaking roof and the rain poured in every time it rained. The kitchen/bathroom was on the ground floor, in a rear extension. Its walls were green and covered in fungus from damp. Basically the place was not fit for human habitation, but unfortunately the landlord didn't feel the same way. Worst of it was, he had been given grants to do the place up, but hadn't actually spent a penny! I think it took him a further year before he decided to renovate - on the cheap needless to say. Hopefully that same landlord isn't the one your boy is renting from!  Although, he's probably living off his millions in Spain by now.
09/08/2009 at 10:19

dog, Angelic, that sounds horrendous!

It seems that gf has, to my mind, jumped the gun a bit and called in Environmental Health, they should be visiting within the next 2 weeks to have a look-see. The kids are going to try and get the place well ventilated meanwhile and see what transpires.

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