Landlord Mould Responsibility: A Guide for Tenants and Landlords

Particularly during the colder and damper winter months, mould can be a real concern for both tenants and landlords in rented properties. Often caused by condensation, mould can be the result of maintenance issues or structural issues in the property, and can lead to health problems for residents.
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What is mould and why is it a concern?

If you have damp and mould in your property, you are more likely to have respiratory problems, respiratory infections, allergies or asthma, and it can also affect the immune system. Babies, children and older people are more likely to be affected, as well as those with weakened immune systems, skin problems, or respiratory problems.

Mould is a type of fungi that often appears as black, brown or green spots on surfaces, but can quickly spread if left to grow. It produces allergens, irritants and, sometimes, toxic substances, and can grow on almost anything - plastic, glass, wood, fabric, and other surfaces. It thrives in damp environments, particularly bathrooms and around window frames. Two types of black mould commonly found in homes are Cladosporium and Alternaria fungi, while another black mould is Stachybotrys chartarum, which can release specific toxins that are harmful to humans.

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Landlords’ mould responsibility

If you are a landlord, mould responsibility is something you need to take seriously. Under Section 11 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985, it is the landlord’s responsibility to resolve mould issues that are caused by structural faults in the property. Some cases where the mould is the responsibility of the landlord include:

  • Broken/missing extractor fans in bathrooms without windows
  • Leaks from pipes, sinks, bathtubs, showers
  • Rotten or damaged window frames
  • Poor insulation to the property.

Addressing the above problems, and performing regular maintenance on your property, should help prevent any mould caused by structural issues.

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Tenants’ responsibility with mould

However, not all mould issues are the landlord’s mould responsibility. Some cases where the mould has grown due to fault of the tenant include:

  • Drying clothes indoors
  • Not heating the property sufficiently
  • Not opening windows to ventilate humid spaces
  • Showering with the windows closed
  • Cooking with the windows closed
  • Storing food incorrectly/past its use-by date.

As a tenant, you can take several steps to reduce the risk of mould in your property. If you dry clothes indoors, make sure the room is well ventilated and heated. Keeping windows open when cooking or showering ensures that steam can escape rather than form condensation indoors.

Wipe down showers and bathtubs and air out bath mats - using dehumidifiers and mould removal sprays can also help to prevent the spread. Also take care to throw out food that has surpassed its short shelf life, such as dairy or fruit products which can turn mouldy inside your fridge.

If you spot mould in your rented property, you should inform your landlord as quickly as possible.

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Reporting and documentation of mould

If you are a tenant who has spotted mould in your property, the first thing to do is take pictures of the mould and send them along with descriptions of any damage to the landlord. Keep records of your written communication in case of any problems down the line. If your landlord does not respond, or fails to take any action when it is clearly the landlord’s mould responsibility, you may need to contact your local authority.

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The landlord's response to mould

As a landlord, when you have been alerted to the presence of mould in a property, you should arrange an inspection to determine the cause of the mould and whether repairs need to be made. Once a tenant has reported mould, you have 14 days in which to respond before the tenant can approach their local authority.

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Tenants’ rights regarding mould

If your landlord is slow or fails to respond to your concerns regarding mould, you may decide to take a new course of action. Some tenants choose to withhold rent until the issue is sorted, but bear in mind that you do not have the right to do this and it could result in eviction.

However, as tenants you do have the right to make repairs and take any costs from your next payments of rent, but you must make sure that the repairs being made are the responsibility of the landlord. If mould has begun growing in your shower because you have never opened the windows or cleaned the shower, this is your responsibility to remove and you do not have the right to charge the landlord to deal with it as it was not the landlord’s mould responsibility.

If you do not remove the mould before the end of your tenancy, the landlord has the right to deduct the cost of removing it from your deposit, so it’s best to tackle it as early and quickly as possible.

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Legal framework

If you are a tenant in a mouldy property and your tenancy agreement has a break clause, then you may be able to end the tenancy early. But if you do not have one, contact your local authority who will perform an inspection to determine whether the landlord is culpable of negligence. If the landlord is found culpable, the local authority will issue a notice to them which will demand repairs.

But if you are a landlord and you attempt to evict your tenant without fixing a reported mould problem within six months of it being reported, this could invalidate a Section 21 notice.

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Deal with your landlord mould responsibility quickly

In conclusion, it is critical not to let mould in your property get out of hand, whether you are a tenant or landlord. The earlier it is dealt with, the easier the process is - and the less likely the mould is to return.

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Landlords insurance from Towergate

We provide landlord insurance for a wide range of properties and tenants including multi occupancy, students, local authority placements, unoccupied and much more. See our landlord insurance page or call 0333 060 0915 for more.

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Commercial property insurance from Towergate

We can offer cover for a range of commercial properties from our trusted network of leading insurers.

You can place just one commercial property or a whole portfolio under one policy, including standard and unoccupied residential and mixed-use buildings.

Get a commercial property insurance quote, call us on 0330 828 0512 or request a callback.

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About the author

Alison Wild Bcom Hons MAAT MATT Taxation Technician Commercial Tax Pensions Insurance And Marketing Specialist AuthorAlison Wild BCom (Hons), MAAT, MATT, Taxation Technician is a highly respected industry professional who has been working with and advising SMEs in areas including tax, pensions, insurance and marketing for over 25 years. She is a member of the Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT) and Association of Tax Technicians (ATT) and also has 20 years' experience as a residential landlord.