Damp and Mould

Description of hazard

Dwellings should be free from rising and penetrating damp and free from persistent condensation dampness inherent to building design and/or construction, and be adequately damp proofed. Where defects are present they should be investigated and repairs carried out.

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Properties should have adequate provision of natural and mechanical extract ventilation, i.e. a mechanical extractor fan provided to a bathroom.

Where a property has well insulated walls and roof, has double glazing, adequate space heating, and adequate damp proofing and a problem with black mould still exists, it might be the case that occupiers are inadvertently causing excessive moisture production and/or not ventilating the property adequately. This can be caused by certain household or lifestyle activities such as not opening windows during times of peak moisture production e.g. when cooking, bathing or drying clothes.

Advice may have to be given to households on how damp conditions can be improved, or if significant damage is being caused to the property it may be necessary to discuss the terms of their tenancy agreement.

Exposure to damp and mould can cause adverse health effects in susceptible persons likely to cause respiratory problems, respiratory infections, allergies or asthma. Damp and mould can also affect the immune system. The mental and social health effects of dampness and mould should not be underestimated. Damage to decoration from mould or damp staining and the smells associated with damp and mould can cause depression, anxiety, and feelings of shame and embarrassment.

Figures taken from inspections of private rented properties by Cornwall Council's Private Sector Housing Officers during 2016/17.

  • 7 Category 1 Hazards
  • 128 Category 2 Hazards
  • Creating excess moisture from cooking, bathing and drying cloths
  • Poor heating
  • Lack of insulation
  • Poor ventilation
  • Good heating system and a good level of thermal insulation
  • Low-level background heating
  • Changing the surface finish
  • Continuous low level background ventilation
  • Trickle vents into replacement windows, high level air bricks, or other passive ventilation
  • Mechanical ventilation or positive pressure ventilation system

Damp and mould growth is considered to be a potential health and safety hazard in a dwelling under the Housing Act 2004.

If Cornwall Council has been notified that there is an issue in your property we will undertake the following steps to work with both you and your tenant to resolve the issue: Handling a housing complaint

  1. Help to Solve Common Problems. Access a range of Tenants Guides
  2. Support your tenant to write to you about the complaint. Requesting that you respond to the request in 14 days
  3. Supporting your tenant to complete a disrepair form and starting the process of the Council investigating the complaint. A case officer will be assigned to the property and will start to liaise with both you and the tenant to undertake a site inspection.
  4. Site Visit. We are legally obliged to notify you of our intention to visit your property. You will be given at least 24 hours notice of the date and time of the visit, but usually more notice is given.
  5. Our officers will be using the Housing Health Safety Rating System (HHSRS) to assess any deficiencies identified within the property. If the assessment identifies a Category 1 or Band D Category 2 hazard then the appropriate enforcement action will be taken.
  6. Serving an Enforcement Notice. These notices specify the works or actions required to remove the hazard and the timescale in which we expect this to be completed. There are charges associated with the service of this notice.
  7. At the end of the timescale the officer will contact the tenant and yourselves to revisit the property to look at the works which have been undertaken. If the notice has been complied with, it can be revoked and the case will be closed.
  8. If no work has been carried out or the work is of such poor quality that the hazard has not been removed you may be subject to the issuing of a Civil Penalty or to prosecution.

You can find out more about how Cornwall Council deal with complaints about private rented accommodation on the complaints procedure pages.

How can we help CRLS Members?

You can find more information on the prevention of damp and mould in the Cornwall Rental Standard. As a member you can also access advice and guidance through the scheme officer.

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