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Condensation: The Landlord’s Enemy

Tuesday, 14th January 2014

Categories: Lettings Property Management

Author: Kris White

With winter taking us firmly in its icy grip, the heating thermostat is turned up and windows are slammed shut – many not to be opened again until spring arrives.

Winter can throw up a number of extra issues for landlords – often without their knowledge – and, if left unchecked, they can escalate into problems that will warrant a hefty repair bill.

Breathing space

The problem with a lot of London housing stock is that it’s old, and old usually means poorly ventilated. Victorian and Edwardian properties were built without the benefit of cavity wall insulation, which means there’s nowhere for moisture to go apart from to slowly seep into rooms.

The modern conveniences of central heating and double glazing help to keep houses warmer, but they have done little to solve the problem of condensation in many properties, and you’ll often see water running down the insides of windows on cold winter mornings.

Washing on the loose

When you add the heat and moisture that comes from cooking a meal or hanging a load of washing out to dry, the problem escalates and it doesn’t take long for condensation to convert into damp patches and mould, resulting in a big bill for the homeowner.

What’s the solution?

Putting the washing outside to dry isn’t an option for the best part of winter and landlords need to be realistic about what they can ask tenants to do.

  • Installing a tumble drier can help to ensure that daily loads of damp washing aren’t adding to the moisture levels inside the house.
  • Good extractor fans in the kitchen and bathroom will make a big difference – these extract the warm, moist air directly so it doesn’t hang around.
  • If you’re installing double-glazing, get vents fitted above the windows. These won’t make a huge difference to the temperature inside the room but they offer just enough airflow to improve circulation around the house.
  • Opening windows just a small amount during the day will also allow moisture to escape. You can’t expect tenants to sit around shivering – but you can make them aware of condensation and the ways to minimise it.