Mould on the ceiling. Credit: schbetterplace
With us all being confined to our houses this winter keeping warm and heating our homes has been more significant than ever and if previous winter periods are anything to go by, there is an expectation a significant number will start to develop damp, condensation and mould. How can Housing Associations look to take a proactive stance especially with the Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2018 in the forefront of our minds?
Firstly, it is worth pointing out, of in excess of 2000 related reported damp surveys we have undertaken over a number of years, only 9% suffered a structural defect that could be attributed to the reported issue.
Moulds are simple microscopic organisms present virtually anywhere both indoors and outdoors and for them to develop, grow and reproduce they need a food source. Such sources in addition to moisture can be wallpaper, plasterboard, paint, some carpets, adhesives, wood fabrics and other organic material.
Mould spores are in the atmosphere all year round and develops in areas that are periodically damp and suffer poor ventilation with it being more common in winter when windows are shut and heating systems are operating. However, it can happen at any time of the year. Mould growing anywhere in a property is recognised by a musty smell and on contents, it is noted by a change of colour and patches where the mould has eaten away at clothing fabrics. And here is the interesting bit, damp, condensation and mould are symptoms of an issue so, let’s find the cause. That musty smell on entering a property or opening a cupboard is indicative of mould developing somewhere and knowing more about the likely cause can uphold subsequent advice landlords can give to concerned tenants.
In the first instance it is worth noting moulds take time to develop with a number of different species taking several days to germinate and colonise on a surface. Therefore, any mould outbreak is likely due to the ‘causes’ spanning a number of days. Plus, it doesn’t need to grow in the dark, it’s just that such places have been attributed with damp conditions.
Note: Mould on contents items in a property is not due to a structural issue but, indicative of prolonged elevated atmospheric conditions that quite simply is not being removed to the outside and replaced with fresh air.
In small amounts most people should be fine but if condensation is allowed to build up with mould forming, those who already suffer from health issues may suffer further issues. Some people will experience cold-like symptoms as a result of condensation and where there is a lot of condensation and mould, more serious conditions can develop.
If a complaint arrives, look to discuss with the tenant the timeline with first noticing the issue, have they changed any internal activities and if any contents items are affected in order to build a picture
Any site visits can be made following pertinent advice given along with a baseline expectation.
If Disrepair is a likely outcome, Cornerstone can and indeed continue to assist Housing Associations with fact-based assessments of likely causes that have served to negate legal challenges.
Moreover, contact us now to learn more of our unique surveying platform designed for Housing Associations to embrace along with their staff that, with Cornerstone providing embedded support, serves to certify the health of a tenanted home and where a defect is detected, better decision making can be upheld with cost effective repairs and no sticky plasters.