Mould in Rental Properties: Why It’s Bad & Should You Rent It?

Guide Articles Aug 3, 2022

Renting a property with mould is never ideal. It can impact you, your health, rent deposit and lifestyle choices in more ways than one.

According to a Rentokil study in 2019, almost 6 million UK tenants have experienced damp or condensation issues in a rental. Sadly, that means rental mould problems are way too common for most of our liking!

But do you have to put up with it? Should you report mould to your landlord? And what happens if you do?

Keep reading to learn everything we know about mould in a rental property, including why it’s bad, how to spot mould during viewings, and what to do about mould if it shows up at your house or apartment.

Why is Mould Bad in a Rental?

Mould in a rental property is bad for all kinds of reasons. Firstly, it can cause problems to your health, which is bad enough as a standalone fact.

Secondly, you’ll likely need to make a ton of lifestyle changes to prevent it from worsening. Thirdly, your landlord can blame you if it gets worse. And, finally, it looks like the stuff of nightmares and can ruin your entire home aesthetic!

Health problems

Mould in a house can cause quite severe health issues, which is why landlords have a responsibility by law to monitor mould, take reports of it seriously, and ensure it’s fixed.

Mould is a fungus that releases spores into the air, so when you breathe it in, you’re breathing in its toxins. This can cause all kinds of problems, including:

  • Respiratory problems or infections
  • Allergies
  • Asthma attacks
  • Immune system issues

Learn more about the impacts of damp and mould on your health at NHS.uk.

Lifestyle changes

When you’re renting a property with former or existing mould problems, you’ll need to take daily measures to prevent it from returning or worsening.

This can include things like:

  • Opening the windows or turning on the extractor hood when cooking
  • Keeping bathrooms doors closed during and after showering
  • Squeegeeing the shower or tiles after use and opening the window
  • Opening windows when drying clothes or only drying clothes outside
  • Cleaning extractor fans regularly to prevent dust build-ups
  • Keeping moisture-prone areas free of clutter, like kitchens, bathrooms and airing cupboards

In rental properties with poor ventilation, your landlord may have even more requirements to prevent condensation issues.

An interpretation of mould in a living room, created entirely with artificial intelligence (Midjourney), prompted by Fronted.
An interpretation of mould in a living room, created entirely with artificial intelligence (Midjourney), prompted by Fronted.

Deposit implications

One of the biggest reasons to be wary of renting a property with mould is the implications it can have on your deposit when you leave.

As seasoned renters know, you have to pay a security deposit before you move in (which doesn’t always have to be paid upfront, by the way!). If you don’t meet the terms of your lease, your landlord can deduct money from this deposit at the end of your tenancy.

Causing or worsening mould problems is one of the biggest reasons why tenants don’t get their deposits back. The two main things you can be penalised for are:

  • Not doing the things stated in your tenancy agreement to prevent condensation or not having evidence that you have been doing them.
  • Not reporting mould issues at first sight of them.

It can often be hard to prove that you’ve been keeping up with condensation prevention in a rental, particularly if the ventilation issues are so bad that it builds up regardless of what you do.

As a precaution, don’t delay routine landlord inspections. During the visits, you can also ask your letting agent to evidence condensation-prevention.

For example, ask them to photograph uncluttered airing cupboards, open windows where washing is drying or clean extractor fans.

What Causes Mould in Houses & Apartments?

Several issues can cause mould in a house or apartment. Most issues are structural, but damp has been known to occur in properties solely due to the lifestyle habits of the occupants.

The most common causes of mould in houses are:

  • Poor ventilation
  • Lifestyle habits
  • Leaks or plumbing issues
  • Cracks in walls
  • Rising damp
  • Damaged or blocked guttering

Some problems are easy to fix, but most are severe and costly, which is why many landlords are reluctant to fix issues and protect tenants from mould.

What Should I Do If My Rental Has Mould?

If your landlord or letting agent has told you about mould issues, and they’ve asked you to ensure you ventilate it properly, do what they say.

Condensation can quickly build up in properties with poor ventilation, especially if you aren’t taking steps to prevent it.

If you spot mould appearing in your rental, you should:

  • Try to safely figure out what’s causing the mould, e.g., whether it’s an interior or exterior issue.
  • Check your lease to see if there’s something you should have been doing to prevent it.
  • Stop doing anything that could be causing the mould immediately.
  • If the mould occurring is your fault, and the issues aren’t severe, you can try to get rid of black mould yourself by cleaning it.
  • If the mould is severe or you’re unsure of the cause, report it to your landlord ASAP.

Remember, if you don’t report mould in your rental to your landlord or letting agent, they could accuse you of (and charge you for) making the problem worse.

Do Landlords Have to Fix Mould?

Put simply, yes; landlords have a duty to fix mould in a rental property. However, their response may depend on how severe the issue is and what’s causing it.

Minor mould issues, like small amounts on the black strips around windows or in silicone around baths, probably won’t cause a health risk and could easily be cleaned by you. So, your landlord probably won’t help with this.

More serious mould issues, like in the walls, ceilings, or via rising damp, should be fixed by your landlord. Most of the time, these types of mould issues won’t be your fault, so they shouldn’t make you pay for repairs.

If you’re concerned about mould in your home and aren’t sure who’s responsible, learn more about rental mould problems via Citizen’s Advice.

Can a Landlord Blame You For Mould?

Unfortunately, yes, a landlord can blame you for rental mould problems. What’s worse is that they can be right in blaming you, too.

Mould is primarily caused by structural issues with the property and poor ventilation. It’s your landlord’s responsibility to fix structural issues that lead to mould and to take measures to ensure the property ventilates better. This could mean installing extractor hoods in the kitchen and fans in the bathroom.

As the tenant, you can’t change how well the property naturally ventilates. However, your landlord can make you responsible for preventing condensation.

Even if they don’t install ventilation fans, they can still ask you in the lease to open windows when cooking, showering or drying clothes on the radiator.

If you don’t keep up with these tasks, a landlord can blame you and deduct some of your deposit for mould issues. They can also blame you for not reporting known mould issues sooner, as it can be more costly to fix the worse it gets.

An interpretation of mould in a living room, created entirely with artificial intelligence (Midjourney), prompted by Fronted.
An interpretation of mould in a living room, created entirely with artificial intelligence (Midjourney), prompted by Fronted.

How to Spot Mould Problems During Rental Viewing

Renting a property with mould isn’t the most ideal situation. We know you don’t always have a choice about where you live, but these issues in your home can be problematic.

Oftentimes, you have a better chance of your landlord fixing issues if you raise them before you move in than after.

Here are the top things to do to spot mould problems during a viewing.

Check for visible signs

One of the most important ways to spot mould problems during a viewing (of a house or apartment) is by checking for visible signs.

The most common signs a rental has mould problems are:

  • Peeling paint or wallpaper
  • Black patches on ceiling corners
  • Steaming condensation on windows and mirrors
  • Black mould on windowsills
  • A musty or damp smell
  • Dark stains or discolouration on walls
  • The smell of fresh paint – it could just be the landlord repainting, but it could also be them covering up mould!

If you’re unsure whether the issue is mould, take pictures and ask someone for a second opinion, like a family member, friend or professional.

Ask the letting agent about ventilation

Another sign the property you’re viewing has mould problems is if the letting agent has a long list of things you need to do to prevent condensation.

During the viewing, ask the agent questions like:

  • Are there mould problems?
  • Has there ever been mould problems?
  • Are there extractor fans in bathrooms?
  • Does the extractor hood over the hob need to be used when cooking?
  • Are there ventilation rules for the bathroom or kitchen?
  • How and where can I dry clothes?

Or request a copy of the lease so you can see what rules apply to you.

Look for ventilation systems/opportunities

A rental with ventilation systems is a good thing. It often means your landlord is actively trying to reduce condensation build-up and isn’t palming all the responsibilities onto you.

When viewing a rental property, look for systems or opportunities to ventilate easily, like:

  • Windows that open in the bathroom
  • Extractor fans in the bathroom or airing cupboards
  • Extractor hoods (that work!) in kitchens
  • Windows above radiators in living areas

If a property you’re viewing has these things, it can be much easier to manage condensation and prevent mould issues from occurring in future.

Are You Moving Rental?

Renting a property with mould is like having the least fungi at your house every day! If damp problems (or our bad puns!) have got you in the mood to move, we have good news.

You no longer need to save up for a deposit every time you move.

For the first time ever, if you already have a deposit protected in a deposit scheme, you can transfer it to your next property.

A Lifetime Deposit will help you keep hold of £1,200 on average, which we think is pretty neat.

We are on a mission to help more people move, so if you are moving soon, don’t forget your Lifetime Deposit!

Get a Lifetime Deposit: Get started

Will Southall

If you're a renter, we've got your back. This corner of the Fronted site is loaded with everything from moving tips, Lifetime Deposits, and anything you need to make renting, or moving, a breeze.