How to Overcome Damp In a Rented Property


Damp proofing rental property always throws up one key challenge. Getting it done quickly!

Why Do Landlords Need To Remove Damp Issues?

The main reason for resolving damp issues quickly will be to reduce the loss of rental income followed by the reducing inconvenience of the tenants. Unfortunately, it will no longer be a valid excuse to wait for a void period to fix damp issues and Landlords will need to react quickly.

The commonplace for the damp issue to be blamed on Condensation and for that reason, ‘lifestyle’ is blamed for the condensation. On many an occasion, this is unreasonable. New build apartments that have a Kitchen/Living room will often have a cooker hood extract fan and window trickle vents. Both of these ventilation provisions are insufficient for modern-day living arrangements but meet with inadequate building regs.

To address a cooker hood extract fan, this, if indeed it is used, will only be used during cooking. If the Kitchen happens to have a washing machine and tumble dryer, these appliances along with running the hot water tap over the kitchen sink, produce a lot of vapour that will not be collected and extracted by the cooker hood. The tenants cannot be accused of lifestyle choices for causing condensation in this area when in fact, the ventilation provisions themselves are inadequate.

Beyond condensation damp which is easily resolved with good quality ventilation, other damp issues will be water leaks which again, easily resolved by a good plumber, penetrating damp, bridging damp and rising damp.

Do You Think That Rising Damp is a Myth?

On a separate note, anyone reading this who is of the opinion rising damp does not exist, I will respect your opinion whatever it is based on but please do not deride this blog article for holding your opinion if it conflicts with mine. Even if you are of the opinion rising damp is a myth, I base my opinion on the fact building regs state a physical damp proof course ‘HAS’ to be installed during the building process. Damp-proof courses have also been installed since Victorian times so my own opinion follows the normal practices. That said, structures built using ‘organic’ materials such as Cob, Wattle and daub, Lime, etc are typically built without a damp proof course on the premise it is expected the building will become damp but will breathe and dry down and so on. Which is also a fact, and does happen. Tackling damp issues in older period properties should ensure breath-ability is maintained and like for like, ‘organic’, materials are used. This would not include the use of injected chemical damp proof courses.

Don’t Fall For The Cheap, Quick Damp Proofing Fixes

Damp proofing rental property all too often results in Landlords acting on advice provided by less than experienced builders or builders who come from the school of; ‘slap some bitumen paint on it and you’ll be fine’. Landlords will often look for the cheapest solution which, after hundreds and hundreds of surveys, we can assure you only ever result in repeated applications of the same failing processes during voids or costly errors. Sadly, rarely the lesson is learned that cheap damp proofing fixings work long term.

Budget Damp Treatments You Should AVOID as a Landlord:

  • Treating mould with bleach or a surfactant such as HG Mould Spray. They do remove the mould for being powerful cleaners. We guarantee you’ll be back in a few weeks because it has grown back.
  • Do not use Stain Block or Damp Seal paints or similar paints to treat a structural damp issue. They all ultimately fail as nothing has been done to ‘solve’ the damp.
  • Do not apply damp proofing paint to damp plaster. Ultimately the plaster gets worse and the damp paint de-bonds and you are back to square one but very possible with a bigger problem.
  • Don’t inject a chemical damp proof course and leave the plaster on if it in poor condition. It won’t get any better for just having injected a damp proof course.
  • Do not install air bricks into cavity walls to allow the cavity to breathe to solve an internal damp problem. You are simply creating internal cold spots which create black mould.

What Should You Do?

Treat condensation issues with a correct ventilation system such as good quality extract fans and when necessary, PIV ventilation. Mould treatments should take the form of a three-stage remedial process including the use of an effective mould wash, insulating paint and overcoat of ant mould paint. Remove mould affected wallpaper.

Keep the property well maintained including pointing and render free from cracks, guttering free from leaks, chimney stacks to be weatherproof, window and door frames weatherproof.

Damp cavity insulation will not dry out, have it removed professionally.

Sub-floor air bricks should not be blocked up and there should be a good number of them to ensure good airflow under the floorboards.

If you have a new chemical damp proof course injected into cavity walls, have the cavities cleared of building debris.

Damp affected or blown plaster should be removed.

We highly recommend on re-plastering damp affected walls with damp-proofing mesh membrane and on cold walls, redecorating with Suretherm insulating paint for the following benefits:

  1. The physical damp proof membrane provides an immediate, impermeable damp barrier.
  2. Salts and residual moisture cannot pass through.
  3. The air gap of the membrane allows the wall to breathe and assists with drying out.
  4. The ideal finish to the membrane is to dot and dab plasterboard.
  5. Once the plasterboard has been skimmed, the skim will dry out in a few days and decorating can be carried out.
  6. If the walls are on the cold side of the property, apply an undercoat of Suretherm paint to make it warmer.
  7. The finished job will result in a drywall/s, warmer and decorated sooner!

We are proud to supply partners to several Landlords groups including the LNPG group, Portsmouth & District Private Landlords Association and the Southern Landlords Association.

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