Condensation and mould are a regular problem within residential property and are often mistaken for a “damp” problem. We receive a significant number of reports of mould between the months of October and March – many more than throughout the warmer months of the year and tenants are often unaware that their own actions have caused the problem.

Are you experiencing condensation and mould on windows, window recesses, walls or ceilings? Are the window recesses, bathroom ceiling or corners of your rooms going mouldy?

If you are experiencing any of these issues, it is almost certainly not a defect with the property, rather a result of the way the property is being used. You as the tenant need to take urgent action to prevent the problem from worsening.

What is condensation?

Have you ever noticed droplets of water forming on the inside of your windows? This liquid is called condensation, and is caused by the relationship between the temperature outside and inside the property, and the amount of moisture in the air inside the property. When warm moist air makes contact with a surface that is colder than itself, it releases its moisture content on to the surface causing the formation of condensation. This will lead to mould if not dealt with immediately. This process can occur on all surfaces within a property such as walls, ceilings and woodwork.

Signs of condensation include:

  • Wet windows and walls
  • Black spot mould
  • Wallpaper peeling
  • Musty smell

What is “Black Spot” Mould? (Aspergillus Niger)

Black spot mould is a direct result of a condensation problem within a property as is often confused with damp, which is a defect with the property and not a tenant responsibility. Black spot mould usually occurs in areas with poor ventilation or lack of air movement, like cupboards, corners of rooms or window recesses and is a direct result of a condensation problem. Black spot mould is dangerous because it can affect the health of those living in the property, in particular children and those with health conditions such as asthma, those who are immunocompromised or have other respiratory or pulmonary conditions. Mould spores are airborne and can quickly spread throughout the property.

How can you treat and manage condensation and black spot mould?

If you notice the signs of condensation in your property you can take various steps to reduce the problem.

  1. Ensure all extractor fans are working correctly
  2. Ensure the property is well ventilated by making use of window vents/opening windows
  3. Ensure tumble dryers are correctly vented if applicable
  4. Ensure the property is adequately heated
  5. Do not dry washing on radiators or airers around the property
  6. Wipe down any condensation when found
  7. Do not use calor gas heaters (or similar) within the property
  8. Spray any black spot mould with mould remover or mild bleach (using precautions as directed)

To Summarise:

Condensation and eventually black spot mould are caused by several factors:

  1. Too much moisture being produced within the property – incorrectly vented tumble driers, non-working extractor fans, drying of clothes on radiators and airers around the property
  2. Lack of ventilation in the property – not making use of window vents, not opening windows
  3. Inadequate heating in the property
  4. Lack of air circulation caused by accumulation of personal items within the property

If you are concerned that you have a problem developing within your property, please contact us as soon as possible and we can make a plan together to resolve your issue.

Images sourced from: 

https://www.envirovent.com/home-ventilation/stop-condensation-on-windows/

http://www.mtha.org.uk/for-tenants/damp-and-condensation/

https://www.envirovent.com/blog/keep-condensation-and-damp-out-this-winter/

https://www.timberwise.co.uk/2010/02/surveyors-fotofile-condensation-black-spot-mould/

http://www.completeremedialsolutions.co.uk/

There is a lot of discussion around asbestos, particularly in recent years where Health & Safety has been pushed to the forefront of our minds – but what actually IS asbestos and why do we, as property managers and landlords, need to know about it?

All landlords and property managers must abide by the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, hence they must be aware of anything that may impact the general health and safety of their tenants.

Asbestos was known as the “Magic Mineral” for many years given its versatility and properties as a construction product. It was used in many ways such as insulation, fire proofing, cladding, even roofing and floor tiles. It wasn’t until much later that the effects of asbestos on those who produced, shipped and used it became apparent. Unfortunately by this point, asbestos was so widely distributed and used that it was impossible to trace it and remove it from those buildings that had included it.

So WHY is Asbestos dangerous?

Asbestos is made of fibres, as you will see below. When the Asbestos is “friable”, meaning the edges are damaged or worn, these fibres can be released into the air, and inhaled or ingested. Once ingested or inhaled, they are difficult (if not impossible) to remove, and eventually cause disease, such as lung cancer or conditions known as Asbestosis and Mesothelioma.

What does Asbestos look like?

To keep things simple, there were three main types of Asbestos in use in this country – these are nicknamed after their appearance: “White Asbestos” (Chrysotile), “Blue Asbestos” (Crocidolite) and “Brown Asbestos” (Amosite).

Image courtesy of: https://www.merryhillenvirotec.com/types-of-asbestos/

The use of Blue and Brown Asbestos was banned in the UK in 1985 but large amounts remain. Blue is widely seen as the most dangerous type of asbestos due to its structure – the fibres are short and spiky, which cause the maximum damage to the lungs.
Blue asbestos was often used for products such as spray on pipe lagging, insulation or asbestos cement.

Image Courtesty of: https://www.ad-asbestosremoval.co.uk/

Just as a matter of interest, a lot of people think that the visible fibres of asbestos are what cause the problem. In fact, it is actually the fibres you can’t see with the naked eye that are more troublesome, as shown by this micrograph:

Similar to Blue asbestos, Brown asbestos was mostly used for cement sheets and insulation.

The most common type of asbestos, white, was banned in 1999 which means as a landlord or property manager you should be aware that it may be present in most properties built or converted before 2000. White asbestos is commonly found in areas like artex ceilings, insulation, cement, soffits, piping, fireproofing and ceilings but is so widespread the uses of this type of asbestos would take too long to thoroughly list.

Image courtesy of: https://job-prices.co.uk/asbestos-in-the-home/
Image courtesy of: https://job-prices.co.uk/asbestos-in-the-home/
Image courtesy of: https://job-prices.co.uk/asbestos-in-the-home/

How can I tell it is asbestos?

To only way to confirm the prescence of asbestos is by testing it. There are many companies that will offer a sampling and testing service, often with a 24 hour turnaround. They will take a look at the sample under a microscope to identify the type of fibres it contains, and therefore confirm the presence of asbestos in the sample.

What do I do if I have asbestos?

The first step in the sucessful management of asbestos is the identification of the location and type of asbestos, and the assessment of the current condition.
We would always recommend using a professional company to carry out an “Asbestos Management Survey” and if necessary, an “Asbestos Management Plan and Asbestos Register”.
This survey will review the property non-invasively to identify the location of asbestos on site, as well as giving recommendations for its management and/or removal.
Should there be extensive works being carried out at the property, it is important to take this further and arrange for a “Refurbishment/Demolition Survey” which is much more invasive.

Both types of survey will provide information on how to manage the asbestos, which is likely to be either complete removal, encapsulation (covering to prevent the release of fibres) or regular checking of the condition.

If you would like further information, the Health and Safety Executive website is a fantastic resource, in particular the booklet titled “Asbestos Essentials“.

References:

https://www.hse.gov.uk/asbestos/

http://ibasecretariat.org/lka-paper-asbestos-from-magic-mineral-to-killer-dust-apr-28-2013.pdf

https://ehs.oregonstate.edu/asb-when

https://ehs.oregonstate.edu/asb-when

South West Relo - your local family agent

Family run, our tenants and landlords love the fact we take personal care in what we do to help customers.

Here at SWR, our business model is not to undercut or price match other agents. We offer you the most comprehensive and personalised service to protect your valuable and important investments whilst making the journey of being a landlord as “stress free” as possible.

Come and visit us at The Stables and let’s discuss how we can help you with your property management needs.