Condensation, damp and mould

Advice on what to do if you have condensation, damp or mould in your home, and how you can report it to us if you are a council tenant.

About condensation, damp and mould

Condensation is the formation of water droplets on cool surfaces due to temperature differences. Common places for condensation to occur include windows, mirrors, and cold water pipes, especially in bathrooms and kitchens.

Dampness is the presence of excess moisture in a building. It's often caused by leaks, referred to as penetrating damp, or water coming in from the ground, known as rising damp. It isn’t always obvious which type of damp is causing the problem, and sometimes specialist testing is needed.

Mould is the growth of fungi in damp or humid environments.

If left untreated, damp and mould can impact your physical and mental health and cause damage to your property. It is very important to understand the causes of damp and mould, what can be done to treat and help prevent it and how to report it to us.

Brown and crumbly ‘salt damp’ on an internal wall
Brown and crumbly ‘salt damp’ on an internal wall.

Effects on your health

Touching or breathing in mould spores can cause health problems or make existing health problems worse.

If you have damp and mould in your home, you could be more likely to suffer from:

  • breathing problems, such as respiratory infections
  • skin conditions, such as rashes
  • problems with your immune system.

Damp and mould can also worsen existing health conditions, such as asthma.

The government has recently published guidance on 'Understanding and addressing the health risks of damp and mould in the home':

GOV.UK - Understanding and addressing the health risks of damp and mould in the home

You can read further information about the health effects of damp and mould by visiting the NHS website:

NHS - Can damp and mould affect my health?

Mould and condensation

Damp and mould can often be caused by condensation.

A level of invisible moisture is always present within our environment. However when the air is cold, it is unable to hold all of the moisture produced by every day activities.

When this happens, droplets of water can be formed. You may see this around your bedroom window in the morning, on the mirror in your bathroom after showering, or on cold surfaces, such as tiles. It can also occur in areas of poor ventilation, such as behind sofas and wardrobes.

When left untreated, condensation can result in mould growth on walls, ceilings, furniture and furnishings. You may also find it on clothing and food products stored in cupboards and drawers. Over a period of time it can cause woodwork to rot and plasterwork to deteriorate.

Black mould around a window frame inside a house
Black mould around a window frame inside a house.

Common signs of condensation include:

  • steam on windows and walls
  • walls and surfaces that feel damp to the touch
  • damp patches on walls
  • peeling wallpaper
  • black mould starting to form, often in corners, behind furniture or around windows.

Mould spores on the wall of a house near the skirting board
Mould spores on the wall of a house near the skirting board.

Having mould spores in your home can harm your health and wellbeing. This is especially true if mould is growing in places you spend a lot of time, such as bedrooms and living rooms.

Reducing condensation in your home

The effects of condensation can be controlled in many ways, such as keeping your home ventilated and wiping down condensation when you see it.

You can also try the following to reduce condensation in your home:

Cooking

  • Make sure you close the kitchen door while you are cooking.
  • Try to open a window or put the extractor fan on when using the hob.
  • Make sure to cover pans with lids while cooking.
  • Don’t leave pans or the kettle boiling longer than needed.

Having a shower or bath

  • Close the bathroom door while having a shower or bath.
  • Open a window or put the extractor fan on while showering or bathing.
  • Leave the window open or fan on until all the moisture has gone from the windows and walls after bathing.
  • When having a bath, put some cold water in the bath first, then add hot water, this will reduce the amount of steam produced.

Drying clothes

  • Dry your clothes outdoors, if possible.
  • If you have to dry clothes indoors, put them in the bathroom with the door shut and open a window, or put the extractor fan on.
  • Try not to place wet clothes on radiators.
  • A tumble dryer should either be of the condensing type or vented to an external wall.

Heating

  • Try to keep low background heating on all day if possible. Warm air can hold more moisture, so condensation will be less likely to form.
  • Do not put heating on for short periods of time as this can increase levels of condensation. This is because the air heats and cools quickly.
  • Do not use liquid, propane gas or paraffin heaters, as they produce a lot of water vapour.

Ventilation

  • Try to use extractor fans or cooker hoods when you are cooking.
  • Try to keep windows open to remove moisture when you are cooking, having a shower or drying clothes.
  • Try to keep furniture away from walls, particularly external walls, and leave a gap to allow air to circulate.
  • Do not overfill cupboards and wardrobes.
  • Do not block or cover airbricks or vents.
  • Do not completely block chimneys. Make sure to leave a hole and fit an air vent.
  • Keep a window slightly open throughout the day, if safe to do so. This will help moisture to escape.

Insulation and draught proofing

  • Consider installing a cavity wall/external insulation.
  • Insulate your loft and draught proof the loft hatch.
  • Consider secondary glazing or double glazing.

Financial support

We know that the cost of living crisis is affecting everyone, and that energy bills have increased. It may seem strange, or a waste of money to open your windows when you have the heating on. However, this allows the moisture-filled air to leave the property and allows dry air to enter, which is easier and cheaper to heat.

Find out what financial support is available for eligible households to help with the cost of heating your home, as well as advice on managing household bills.

YouTube video - Preventing condensation and damp

The video below demonstrates ways that you can reduce condensation mould growth in your home.

Preventing condensation and damp

Credit: Original video from Bradford Council.

Mould removal

It is important to be very careful when removing mould. The following advice should help you to deal with mould safely:

  • Do not disturb mould by brushing or vacuum cleaning as this increases the risk of inhalation.
  • Wipe off mould with a damp cloth using a fungicidal wash, this can be purchased in DIY stores, on the internet and in some supermarkets. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Dry the area with a clean cloth.
  • Wash or dry-clean affected clothing.
  • Use an anti-mould paint in hard to treat areas.

Penetrating damp

Penetrating damp happens when water gets into a property from outside. There are many different problems that can cause this. For example, your guttering or mortar may be damaged, or you may have loose roof tiles. Internal leaks, plumbing problems and gaps in windows or doors can also lead to penetrating damp.

Common signs of penetrating damp include:

  • damp patches on your walls or ceilings
  • wet or crumbling plaster (this can also occur on unlined chimney breasts)
  • signs of spores or black mould that are isolated to one area
  • drips and puddles.

Rising damp

Rising damp can happen when water rises from the ground and gets into a property through brickwork. This will only happen in ground floor rooms, usually in older properties.

It can be caused by a failure in the damp proof course (a form of damp-proofing installed in a property) or as a result of bridging. Bridging occurs where groundwater is able to bypass the damp proof course. This is commonly caused by items such as mattresses leaning against an external wall.

Common signs of rising damp include:

  • damp or wet patches appearing towards the bottom of walls
  • salts within the plaster
  • flaky or bubbling plaster
  • rotting skirting boards and flooring
  • damp and musty odour
  • rusting iron and steel fasteners.

Advice for council tenants

Council tenants have a responsibility to look after their homes and should take steps to reduce condensation and damp by keeping their homes heated and well-ventilated. However, it is important to report problems early to stop them from getting worse.

If you are a council tenant and are experiencing problems with damp, mould or condensation in your home, we are here to help.

Read more about the council’s policy on damp on mould:

Damp and mould policy for council homes 2023 - 2026 (pdf 201kb)

How to report damp and mould to the council

These issues can be harmful to your health, so council tenants must report damp and mould immediately by calling us:

Tel: (01482) 396301

Once you have told us about a problem with damp or mould, we will:

  • visit your home to investigate causes of condensation, damp, and mould within 12 days from the date you reported the problems to us
  • discuss solutions and any necessary repairs with you
  • agree a timescale with you to carry out any necessary remedial work or repairs
  • keep you updated of progress in your case
  • carry out another visit after the repairs or treatment have been finished, to make sure that they have solved the problem
  • treat you with empathy and respect when dealing with your case.

Advice for private rented or housing association tenants

In most cases, your landlord is responsible for the repair and maintenance of your home. However, tenants still have a responsibility to look after their homes and take steps to reduce condensation and damp.

The most recent government guidance states that tenants should not be blamed for damp and mould, and that these problems are not the result of ‘lifestyle choices’. It is the responsibility of the landlord to identify and address the cause of the problem. You can read the latest GOV.UK guidance here:

GOV.UK - Understanding and addressing the health risks of damp and mould in the home

You can find further information about how to make sure that a rented property is safe to live in on the GOV.UK website:

GOV.UK - How to rent a safe home

GOV.UK - Guide for tenants: Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2018

Tenant responsibility

Tenants are expected to properly ventilate and heat their home to reduce the potential for damp and mould growth. This is sometimes called 'acting in a tenant-like manner'.

Landlord responsibility

Landlords have a responsibility to ensure that the properties they provide are safe. In the event that damp and mould within your home is being caused as a result of a defect or disrepair, please contact your landlord immediately in writing to notify them of the issue.

How to report damp and mould if you’re a private rented or housing association tenant

If you live in a privately rented or housing association tenancy home and are having problems with condensation, damp or mould, you should contact your landlord to tell them about it.

Try to keep a record of all telephone calls, emails or messages.

You can use the following example letter to report any repair problems to your landlord and keep a copy of the letter you send:

Sample letter for reporting repairs to your landlord (word 14kb)

For urgent issues you may also wish to telephone your landlord.

What to do if your landlord is not responding

Before reporting an issue, please visit our advice for tenants page for information about how to rent a safe home and what to expect if you contact the council.

If you have a problem getting your landlord to do the repairs, let us know and we can offer you advice or arrange to visit and inspect your home.

Report an issue with your landlord

Tel: (01482) 393939

Email: private.sector.housing@eastriding.gov.uk

YouTube video - Possible causes of dampness in the home if you are a tenant

The video below shows possible causes of damp in your rented home:

Possible causes of dampness in the home

Credit: Original video from Shelter.

Advice for homeowners and landlords

Landlords and homeowners are responsible for looking after the condition of their properties. It is important to manage condensation to stop the problems from getting worse.

Landlords must ensure that the accommodation they provide is free from serious hazards, including damp and mould, and that homes are fit for habitation. They must treat cases of damp and mould with the utmost seriousness and act promptly to protect their tenants’ health.

It is the responsibility of landlords to identify and address the underlying causes of the problem of damp and mould, such as structural issues, disrepair, inadequate insulation, heating and ventilation.

Homeowners and landlords should:

  • try to work out what is causing the issue
  • take steps to fix any problems found in the property
  • make sure that specific bathroom or kitchen paint is used when decorating
  • use anti-fungal wallpaper paste and avoid using wallpaper in bathrooms and kitchens
  • make sure properties are well ventilated and consider installing mechanical ventilation.

For severe problems, you may need to seek professional help from a specialist contractor. Before employing a contractor, you should ask friends or neighbours who you know have had similar work done. You could also try contacting recognised trade organisations for a list of members that operate in your area.

The Energy Saving Trust website has further advice on managing damp and mould in your property:

Energy Saving Trust - Fixing damp and condensation

Financial support

It is very important to keep your home heated to avoid problems with damp and condensation. Visit our Cost of living - help for households pages for advice and help with the cost of living.

Our energy efficiency at home page gives advice about saving money on fuel bills, as well as providing information on the different schemes that are available, such as the loft and cavity wall insulation scheme.

If you are on a low income, you may also be eligible to apply for help with the cost of repairing or replacing your heating system in certain circumstances. Read more about support for low income households or tenants.

The council’s Your Money team can provide advice and support for East Riding residents struggling with household bills, such as council tax, rent or overpayments.

The council’s adult social care website, ‘Your Life, Your Way’, provides information for older adults and those with care needs on how to save money on fuel bills, as well as giving advice on various assistance schemes:

Your Life, Your Way - Keeping your home warm

How does the council use the housing, health and rating system to tackle damp and mould in the private housing sector?

The council takes the issue of damp and mould in someone's home very seriously. It is one of the health and safety hazards that can be assessed should the decision be made to inspect someone's home following a complaint from the occupier or relevant partner agency, or where there is concern about the energy performance rating of the property.

The owner of the property will be expected to look at the reasons why damp and mould is present in the property. Frequently the problem can be associated to the additional hazard of excess cold. Where the cause of damp and mould is due to building deficiencies, inadequate ventilation, inadequate heating, and poor energy efficiency these must be addressed. Occupiers cannot be expected to reduce moisture levels if their home does not enable them to do so.

The Government has published a comprehensive guidance on damp and mould in homes which sets out how landlords can work with tenants to help them make small, reasonable adjustments to their behaviour to reduce their damp and mould risk. Working with tenants sits alongside but is not a substitute for tackling the root causes of the issue.

GOV.UK - Damp and mould: understanding and addressing the health risks for rented housing providers

Private rented homes

Should a tenant be experiencing damp and mould in their home, the council will provide advice and if needed take enforcement action in accordance with the council’s Public Protection Enforcement Policy to remove or reduce the hazard.

Before contacting the council’s private sector housing team, the tenant will be expected to have informed their landlord or letting agent in writing of the concerns about damp and mould. This not only gives the landlord an opportunity to address the issue but will also protect the tenant from the risk of retaliatory eviction.

When contacting the council, the tenant will be asked to provide photographs of the issue to assist in deciding what advice to offer or whether an inspection should be undertaken.

Find out how to report an issue with your home.

Owner occupiers and landlords

Owner occupiers and landlords are encouraged to gain advice and assistance from any relevant government schemes supporting energy efficiency improvements.

Advice can also be obtained from an independent housing surveyor or qualified builder on the practical remedial measures or improvements necessary to reduce the cause and effect of damp and mould in the home.

Information about energy efficiency in the home can be found on the this website.

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