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What is condensation?


What is condensation?

Condensation is the result of warm moist air reaching a cold surface. This can be anything from steam caused by cooking, bathing, washing or drying (often when clothes are left to dry in an unventilated room). You may be able to see it on surfaces such as windows, which often collect water droplets, however condensation is not always visible for example when it collects on wall paper, plastered walls, clothes or carpets. In this instance the main tell tail sign is a musty smell and in some cases the emergence of mould.

There are two main causes of condensation within a property, most commonly when the room temperature is too cold or there is the production of too much steam or moisture rich air that has not been adequately ventilated. Often this is something that tenants can treat themselves by ensuring that any moisture in the air can escape. This can be achieved through turning on extractor fans when cooking and using the bathroom, shutting doors to prevent condensation spreading throughout the house, keeping the property heated to an adequate temperature and opening windows (when possible).

The longer condensation is left to sit on surfaces the more potentially damaging this can be to the property. This is because any residing moisture may be absorbed further into walls, wood and plaster leading to mould development. This can be significantly damaging to the health of your tenants and the property.


Is dampness different?

Dampness, says Tom, is most definitely different and invariably results from building defects. This is something that tenants have little to no control over, despite best efforts to adequately heat and ventilate the property. As a result, this is predominately a landlord issue but can also be easily addressed. The main causes can be anything from a leaky roof, defective guttering or rising damp.

It is also worth noting that many properties fall below modern insulation standards and lack cavity walls due to their age. Landlords should always bear in mind that legislative changes mean it is important to ensure that their property continually meets the standards set by the Government and is in a good state of repair. Find out more about your legal obligations, this also includes updates to the Deregulation Act 2015 and HMO licencing.


How to reduce condensation in the property

Advice for landlords and tenants can vary on the best way to tackle condensation in the property. It is worth noting that in a typical home drying clothes produces ten pints of water in an unvented tumble dryer, while having a bath produces two pints of moisture!

For tenants who are living in the property there are preventative measures they can take to ensure that condensation doesn’t build up over time and become a wider issue in the property.

For landlords, educating your tenants can go a long way to reduce the incidence of condensation including;

  • Encourage tenants to leave background heating on in the property as much as possible during cold winter months. Not only does this protect pipework from freezing but helps to reduce the amount of condensation that can build up on surfaces
  • Make sure tenants make use of extractor fans in areas where moisture and steam may be present such as in the kitchen and bathroom
  • Try to air the property as much as possible by leaving windows open when it is safe to do so
  • Close off any moisture or steam in a room, such as during and after a bath or shower by closing doors to stop the spread throughout other rooms
  • Remind tenants not to block up any extractor fans or vents in the property
  • Encourage tenants not to dry wet clothes on radiators or other heaters in the property

If in doubt tenants should always be encouraged to notify their landlord of any issues in the property.

For landlords there are a few key points to consider to avoid damp creeping into your property;

  • Ensure that the property is in a good state of repair by checking any problems such as leaking roofs, gutters, pipes, rising damp, ineffective damp coursing and blocked drains
  • Check the property meets the most recent insulation standards
  • Make sure the property has a well maintained heating system that is regularly checked
  • Ensure that extractor fans are fitted in areas with high moisture content such as kitchen or bathroom
  • Consider purchasing a dehumidifier to remove moisture within rooms, this may seem like an additional cost but could save you hundreds of pounds in the long term
  • Always take precautions when cleaning black mould in a property as spores can be toxic. If it doubt always seek professional cleaning advice
  • Always carry out regular inspections of the property to catch any problems before they escalate
  • Maintain a good relationship with your tenants and educate them about what is best for their own wellbeing and the property. Top tips will likely be greatly received by tenants who will not want to live in a house plagued with damp and mould. Being open and transparent will also encourage them to approach you with any issues as soon as possible and help mitigate any damage long term.


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