Landlords are under pressure to eliminate damp and mould, but they can’t achieve everything alone – they must act in partnership with tenants and community support services to tackle the problem.
Almost a million UK homes suffer from damp and mould, damaging properties and harming health. Landlords are responsible for fixing unfit dwellings and will be named and shamed if they don’t, says the UK government.
But budget pressures, conflicting priorities and a lack of information about the condition of properties make the challenge complicated.
Dangers of damp and mould
The UK’s housing stock is ageing, with older properties requiring attention and investment to strict habitation standards.
Landlords and social housing organisations must ensure the homes are maintained to a high standard and pose “no risk of harm to the health and safety of the occupiers”.
An independent review by the Housing Ombudsman, published in 2021, states that landlords should take a “zero tolerance” approach to damp.
Instead of waiting for damp and mould to appear, all landlords should have “the ability to identify and report early signs of damp and mould.”
It is not enough for landlords to state they’re serious about tackling damp and mould; they must be proactive – taking clear measures to assess the risk and deal with the danger.
Information and education
In the fight against damp, landlords and tenants shouldn’t be pitched against one another – but work in partnership.
The Housing Ombudsman report aims to change the relationship between landlord and tenant; one of the key recommendations is:
“Landlords should review, alongside residents their initial response to reports of damp and mould to ensure they avoid automatically apportioning blame or using language that leaves residents feeling blamed”
Too often, conversations have focused on landlords failing to meet their responsibilities, but this is unfair. Unless tenants and landlords can actively monitor moisture and know the tell-tale signs of damp and mould, it can quickly build up and become a serious problem.
Poor heating, insulation, ventilation and slow leaks are common structural causes of damp in properties. Daily activities of cooking, washing and drying clothes, taking showers, with little or no ventilation, can also cause high levels of moisture to build up. The building quality combined with daily activities will create the ideal conditions for damp and mould.
But tenants and landlords are powerless to act unless they are aware of the danger. They are unaware of the danger building up and how simple measures can reduce it.
The solution? Use technology powered by people engagement to alert you to the danger.
Intelligent sensors, healthier homes
Our smart sensor technologies provide tenants and landlords with information on the presence of damp, moisture and mould, what is causing it (building quality and daily activity) and suggests actions to fix and prevent it.
We are creatures of habit and homes will respond in predictable ways. The battery powered sensors communicate wirelessly to create an animated visual representation of the home as conditions change over time. The patterns enable us to predict what the current state of damp is, when to intervene and with what actions. Using data in this way, removes the problem of snap shot surveys that can only see a small symptom. Our technology looks at the whole home to get to the root cause and suggest actions to remove the problem for good.
We transform data into knowledge out of the box. Landlords don’t have the time and budget to interpret millions of lines of data. We do all that for you so you can concentrate on prioritising repairs and maintenance work based on people and buildings risk factors, educate your own teams and tenants before problems arise, and optimise budget allocation across your estate.
Our sensor technology is as accurate at predicting future dangers as it is at assessing current problems and performance. Our powerful algorithms measure the before and after performance of the home enabling landlords to prove they can delivered and maintain energy efficient, comfortable and damp free homes. Measuring a successful Retrofit and Net Zero investment is far easier.
The Ombudsman’s report states landlords must ensure
“their staff and contractors have appropriate expertise to properly diagnose and respond to reports of damp and mould.”
You don’t need to wait for winter to diagnose whether a home is likely to have damp and mould. Look out for our next blog where we will discuss measuring the performance of homes in summer to get an indicator of performance in winter.