It’s like having your very own private Eden Centre in the lounge. New forms of lush flora bloom on walls, while nearby a pretty waterfall cascades softly into a babbling stream.
Many rented places inflict one horrendous problem on unhappy occupants: damp. This ranges from rivulets flowing down walls and mould growing on everything, to a little condensation and a few discreet dark patches in the shower.
Damp has an impact on owner occupiers too - this isn’t just a problem for renters. But tenants cannot make the repairs necessary to alleviate the situation, and landlords seem to forget they own the place, even if they lived in it previously or intend to do so again. In many cases, they’ve even painted over the worst so that prospective tenants have no idea about the horrors incubating beneath five layers of emulsion.
Try contacting the letting agent and they will generally redirect the problem hurtling it right back to blaming the tenant, and often don’t even raise this with the owner. Landlords claim that drying laundry on radiators causes damp. Well, it’s hard to know where else laundry will dry without garden access and no utility room, especially with energy being so expensive, even if the landlord provides a washer-dryer.
And yes, condensation alone does count as damp (I have this on good authority from bigwigs in the world of Environmental Health.) You can’t expect tenants to install vents, because they might face being penalised with deposit deductions for making such a substantial change to the property.
Landlords generally require tenants to leave windows open (one word: burglary) and blame failure to do this in winter for the mushrooms, the stench of decay and rotting textiles rather than not properly converting the place.
In hermetically sealed newbuilds with double glazing but no garden and no drying area, what are tenants supposed to do when the weather is so bad it rains for forty days and nights? It goes back to reasonable behaviour and good design (there should always be a place to hang clothes indoors) and hanging your jeans on the radiator should not cause an entire new eco-system to grow on the walls.
It’s one argument every renter dreads, causing a ping pong of blame played out with emails, letters and recriminations, with the owner finding reasons to load it all on the tenant and avoid paying, while tenants (unless they have installed an open steam room in the lounge) are unable to do much about condensation, and are left thinking: if I owned this building, I would pay for the repairs that will make this house last longer (damp destroys the very fabric.)
Apart from the fact that it’s miserable and disgusting to find clothes and belongings covered in revolting fungus, the health consequences are well-documented. And yet landlords skimp on extractors, providing cheap crappy examples, repeatedly blaming tenants by using logical somersaults that defy belief.
It’s simple: really really simple. Landlords hear me now: damp is not the tenants fault. It just isn’t.