mould in rental property - whose responsibility?

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mould in rental property - whose responsibility?

Postby Sandytoes » 12 Aug 2013, 22:27

Our ex-landlord is quibbling about the return of our deposit. There are various cleaning issues, which are reasonable (somehow, not one of the five people involved in cleaning the place from top to bottom managed to clean the oven :scream ), but one of the issues is the mould on the walls. He says the previous tenant didn't have a problem with mould, and we should have been cleaning the walls with bleach once a fortnight to keep it under control.

The heating in the property was hopeless, it was bitterly cold all winter, and the boiler was next-to-condemned by British Gas a few months before we left, having gradually deteriorated over the year - and was never replaced.

So whose fault is it if there's mould on the walls? Is it our responsibility to fight a war against damp? Does it show me up as a hopeless housekeeper? Or is it up to the landlord to deal with it?

And just how do we go about getting back at least some of our deposit?
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Re: mould in rental property - whose responsibility?

Postby catkin » 12 Aug 2013, 22:38

If it takes cleaning the property with bleach every 2 weeks, then the property has a mould problem not the tenant.
That said, I have had mould problems that were definitely my fault. When it happened to me in a flat I told the landlord, and we agreed that I'd clean it up with bleach, open the windows more and the landlord would look into it if the problem persisted. It didn't so we were fine.
We also had it in our house, probably due to putting lots of laundry indoors to dry. We got a dehumidifier and put it on when laundry-drying on wet days, cleaned the walls once and haven't had a problem since.

I think it'd be reasonable in normal circs for the landlord to deduct a small amount for cleaning mould. But not if you'd already taken reasonable precautions, and let him know when the damp persisted. And not if you weren't supplied with the means to heat the property to keep it mould free :o
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Re: mould in rental property - whose responsibility?

Postby Gizmo » 12 Aug 2013, 22:42

The landlord. If the landlord knew about the heating and boiler he should have done something about that and not doing it was unacceptable.

If for example you had a shower room with a fan and a window and choose to use neither and the shower room got mold then he might have a point.

Call citizens advice but tell him in no uncertain term that he owes you back your deposit and you won't let it go.

Edited to add, I'm speaking as a landlord myself. He sounds like he's trying it on.
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Re: mould in rental property - whose responsibility?

Postby Biddy » 12 Aug 2013, 23:17

Totally the landlord. I've been in this position as some on here might remember. My landlord blamed us entirely for a very severe mould problem. Because it was caused by condensation he blamed us, but we had taken every precaution to reduce the condensation levels and it was still happening and only getting worse.
In the end I called the council. I don't know what the council is like in your area, but here in cardiff they have a helpline especially for issues with private rental properties. A nice woman from the council came to assess the situation. She interviewed us and the landlord separately, and concluded we had taken suitable preventative action against the mould and that there was a problem with the property build. She ordered the landlord to fix the insulation and install various things before he was allowed to rent the property to anyone else.

If you've left the property already it's a bit different, but you can still find out what your rights are. Citizens advice will also be able to advise you. And maybe the council will be able to inspect the property anyway even though you don't live there. Worth calling them to see what they say.

Gizmo correct me if I'm wrong but isn't it now a legal requirement for landlords to keep the deposit in a special deposit account? Which protects the landlord from being able to keep the deposit for no good reason or for spurious reasons? The place I'm in now is with an agency and they have confirmed our deposit is in one of those accounts and the letter implied it was a legal requirement for all landlords and agents nowadays.
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Re: mould in rental property - whose responsibility?

Postby Gizmo » 12 Aug 2013, 23:48

Yes, but as with all these things I'm sure there is a way round it for a landlord that doesn't want to pay it back. Sandy where you given the details of the deposit from the landlord. If the landlord is saying you damaged the property then that might be a reason to withhold some or all of it. I think your best bet its citizens advice and take any contracts, deposit information you have.
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Re: mould in rental property - whose responsibility?

Postby salj1980 » 13 Aug 2013, 09:20

Ignoring the mould thing, it IS a legal requirement for landlords to put deposits into a deposit protection scheme, and I'm pretty sure that (also by law) they have to provide you with details of this, in writing, within 30 days of you moving in. If they don't I *think* you can claim up to 3 times the amount of the deposit (though I'm not totally sure on this one so please don't take it as gospel!).

When you do get confirmation in writing read it REALLY carefully to make sure they have got all your details right. When we moved out of the last house it turned out that our absolutely lovely landlord and landlady (with whom we got on really well) had, purely by accident, put my first name with OH's surname, and OH's first name with my surname, on the form, we never noticed it until trying to claim back the deposit, and it took months to get the deposit protection people to a) acknowledge the mistake, b) rectify it and c) return our deposit.
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Re: mould in rental property - whose responsibility?

Postby Sandytoes » 20 Aug 2013, 11:41

Another email from the landlord - apparently for a Victorian property, washing the walls with bleach once a fortnight is not beyond the limits of normal household cleaning. So he says. I bet he doesn't do it for his own walls. :mona

Anyway they are going to charge us £130 for extra cleaning, and the rest of the deposit is on its way back to us. Could have been worse, I guess, and was still cheaper than getting the whole house professionally cleaned.

We now have a choice. We can afford to buy either a dishwasher, curtains for the front room (bay window - it's enormous and currently has hideous nets and nothing else) or a wardrobe to keep our clothes in (they're currently on hanging rails).

WWYD?
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Re: mould in rental property - whose responsibility?

Postby Gizmo » 20 Aug 2013, 11:48

I would tell them they are totally out of order. Our house is a victorian property and washing walls with bleach once a fortnight is ridiculous and unacceptable. I would never ask our tenant to do that, because our property does not have a damp problem and if it did I would get it fixed.

Get on to the council and report them.
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Re: mould in rental property - whose responsibility?

Postby RJandA » 20 Aug 2013, 11:57

Here is a link for the tenancy deposit scheme rules https://www.gov.uk/tenancy-deposit-protection/overview

It's quite brief, but I do know how it works. The landlord doesn't hold the deposit, the scheme does. So if landlord wants to make any deductions then first he has to talk to you - if you can agree an amount then he notifies the scheme and deposit is returned. If not then it goes to (free) arbitration - this can take ages but it works. In our last rented flat, the landlord tried to keep the whole of the previous tenant's deposit (which would have been about £1700) - she was eventually awarded about £150 and was lucky to get that - I saw the report and the impartial adjudicator had practically accused her of falsifying invoices for work she said she had done after he moved out.

Washing walls with bleach is definitely outside reasonable cleaning, especially if it was never mentioned as being necessary while you were living there. I'm sure with some types of paints you would ruin the wall by washing with bleach so how on earth would you have known to do it? Even so, it's unreasonable. Tenants are not caretakers.

Glad you have reached agreement with the landlord though - much quicker than going through the scheme.
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Re: mould in rental property - whose responsibility?

Postby RJandA » 20 Aug 2013, 11:59

Sandytoes wrote:We now have a choice. We can afford to buy either a dishwasher, curtains for the front room (bay window - it's enormous and currently has hideous nets and nothing else) or a wardrobe to keep our clothes in (they're currently on hanging rails).

WWYD?


For me it would be a no-brainer. Dishwasher every time.
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Re: mould in rental property - whose responsibility?

Postby Sandytoes » 20 Aug 2013, 12:01

I think for the amount that's involved, and also because there were a couple of other cleaning and maintenance issues that they are probably justified (although rather pedantic) in charging us for, it's not worth going to arbitration. Too much stress and hassle, and could really use the money now rather than in 6 months time!
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Re: mould in rental property - whose responsibility?

Postby BigFlower » 20 Aug 2013, 12:06

Sandytoes wrote:Another email from the landlord - apparently for a Victorian property, washing the walls with bleach once a fortnight is not beyond the limits of normal household cleaning. So he says. I bet he doesn't do it for his own walls. :mona ?


My house is older than Victorian and I have not bleached the walls in nearly 10 years of living here. And we don't have a mould problem because we have decent boiler and heating and two dehumidifiers for the areas (basement and large built in cupbaord) where it does get a little damp. Ridiculous!!


Sandytoes wrote: We now have a choice. We can afford to buy either a dishwasher, curtains for the front room (bay window - it's enormous and currently has hideous nets and nothing else) or a wardrobe to keep our clothes in (they're currently on hanging rails).

WWYD?


Personally I'd go curtains as we have a bay window and when there was nothing covering it I felt like I lived in a fish bowl!
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Re: mould in rental property - whose responsibility?

Postby Gizmo » 20 Aug 2013, 12:07

Is this in Reading? If so the landlords name doesn't happen to begin with Mc does it? Just wondering because there's a well knwn landlord there that has form for keeping deposits.

I would go for a wardrobe. You can make curtains or get them from ebay/gumtree/freecycle for cheap and a dishwasher is not essential.
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Re: mould in rental property - whose responsibility?

Postby Biddy » 20 Aug 2013, 14:18

A dishwasher IS absolutely and completely essential for survival :D I would definitely go for that option.

And as for the landlord, totally out of order. Complete nonsense about needing to clean walls. I went through this exact same thing and the council confirmed the landlord had no right to charge us for any cleaning (which he tried to do) and it was unreasonable to need to clean the walls that often, or at all, especially if we're taking extra precautions to avoid condensation mould. If you follow certain guidelines then there should be no mould whatsoever, if there is mould then there is a problem with the property. I was fortunate in that I still lived there so I was able to exercise all my rights and have the council inspect the property. The landlord evicted us but wasn't allowed to keep any deposit for mould issues or cleaning.

I would be tempted to write a note to the next tenants who live there, advising them to contact the council if they get the same mould issues, to get somebody to professionally inspect the property. I wouldn't want anyone else to get ripped off. That was partly my motivation to sort the problem out at my last property, I would never want somebody else to go through what we went through. He'd already rented the place to a 90yr old woman (who got sick and died), and then to us, with young children. Who would be next?
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Re: mould in rental property - whose responsibility?

Postby robyn » 20 Aug 2013, 14:34

Glad you got it sorted to your satisfaction.
We had trouble with our deposit from our old place for similar reasons. We'd cleaned the mould off so many times the paint was worn away in places. It was hideous.
They also claimed we'd given them a smaller deposit than we actually had. Ours was done through the deposit scheme, but the people holding the money were the estate agents, so they obviously had a vested interest in keeping as much money for the landlords (their continuing customers) and couldn't care less about us, we weren't going to give the any more business.
We lived in that flat for five years, paid a lot for the privilege , and the ll did no maintenance in that time, said the mould was normal, and they let it out again without doing anything. It's shocking what they get away with.
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