Now that the colder weather is well and truly here in the UK, it's tempting to keep the heat in by closing windows, doors and other ventilation outlets.
No doubt the heating will also be on more often than not. Fair enough. But it's worth considering that - unless you're careful - this can cause mould problems to accumulate. What do we mean?
Well, condensation tends to be the main contributor of mould in a tenancy. Keeping the window open now and again will help prevent the build up (especially in the bathroom after a shower or the kitchen after a heavy cooking session where there's been lots of steam). If the property has an extractor fan in these rooms then it's important to use it regularly.
It's also a good idea to dry clothes outside on a line if possible and if not use a tumbler dryer. If you don't have access to either then dry the clothes inside but make sure it's in a cool place. Wet clothing and boots after a rainy day should also be kept at the doorway or porch (certainly away from any living areas such as the sitting room or bedroom). A leaking pipe can also result in a mould build-up so it's important to report any dripping water to a landlord right away.
Why it's important to prevent mould build-up
Mould isn't just unsightly, it's also a danger to health. It can exacerbate conditions such as asthma, sinusitis and even allergies.
How common is it?
Mould in properties is very common unfortunately. A recent survey by the homeless charity Shelter found that 61 per cent of tenants they asked had experienced damp, mould or even a leaking roof in their rented property. Which brings us on to the next point...
When mould is a landlord's responsibility
Sometimes the mould can be a result of structural damage to the building such as a leaking roof or pipe. In this case rising damp is the culprit and is the landlord's responsibility. It can usually be fixed by rectifying the cause and applying a course of damp-proofing (the latter can be costly but allowing the damp to continue would be more expensive still). Blocked cavities and covered air bricks can also prove a culprit. If there's a solid concrete floor in the property then a damp proof membrane could ensure no mould build up.
What if you can't decide who is at fault?
If the mould is causing a dispute between you and your landlord, the easiest solution is to find the exact cause. In the worst case scenario a damp assessor can be called in. This can be costly but it'll get to the bottom of the problem and he or she will also be able to advise on the best ways to (a) get rid of it and (b) prevent it happening again.