My Incompetent Tenants Painted Over Mould- Guide to Treating Mould

Seems like many blue Moons ago now, but it was only a month or so ago I was shaking my fists in the air while projectile vomiting over myself after having witnessed the horrific conditions my tenants chose to live in. During my hissyfit, I briefly discussed how the pair of numpties painted over mould in the bathroom, days before vacating the property in an attempt to mask the problem. Evidently, my tenants didn’t do a very good job because I spotted the scam almost immediately. The Chuckle Brothers only painted over the areas that were infested with mould, while leaving the rest of the walls untouched, consequently I was left with walls covered in 2 different shades of white paint. It didn’t take a rocket scientist to workout something wasn’t quite right.

I’m actually not sure if they tried to mask the problem so I wouldn’t notice or cure the problem. Either way, there was no need to question their intelligence because it was clear they had a very limited supply between. I was, however, left questioning their sanity. I probably had a moral obligation to report them to some kind of institute for dumb assholes.

I’m also not sure whose brainchild it was to limit the paint to the areas saturated in mould, but they should both equally be punished, in this life or the next, because while one was committing the dumbest act of the century, the other was supporting it. No Jury, no trial, let’s just get these donkeys off the streets and make the world a more sterile place for our children.

Mould doesn’t just miraculously cover large surface areas overnight; it enrolls onto a learning & development program and slowly grows. And much like an infected penis, you need to nip the problem in the bud as soon as possible, otherwise things turn green and shit starts to flake off. Nasty stuff. What many people don’t realise is that mould is a type of fungus, which can cause serious health risks, so it needs to be treated properly, and preferably not covered up with a lick of paint. What they did was actually extremely dangerous/stupid. Not to mention, mould will slice through fresh paint like a knife cutting through warm butter.

The infestation wasn’t exactly inconspicuous; it had reached the dark black/brown stage. Meanwhile, my tenants managed to blissfully turn a blind eye to the prominent shit-coloured stains splattered all over the white walls and carry on living their ghastly unsanitary day-to-day lives. Lovely.

It’s mostly frustrating because I provided them with a clean property, and the bathroom specifically had an extractor fan (which I’m assuming they never used because it had an isolated switch which wasn’t connected to the light switch) and it didn’t have any previous history of mould from previous tenants. Moreover, if they had the sense and courtesy to report the problem, I would have attended to the issue immediately. But for some obscure and unknown reason, they felt compelled to remain mute and revel in the filth. Perhaps that’s their fetish, to live in challenging environments that could ultimately cause ill health. Kind of like those nut-jobs that have foot-fetishes, whom are prepared to chop their right arm off to lick the toe-jam out of other peoples’ feet.

If I had provided them with a stable riddled with gloomy damp rooms and malfunctioning appliances, then I would have understood and also shown a blind eye to the situation. Alas, these people are just filthy bastards by nature, and probably dig into their underwear when requiring cheese to assist their crackers.

The reason I’m going over this hideous incident again is because I want to cover the topic of mould in greater depth since it is a big issue in rented property. But also, I was frantically Google’ing for specific resources on “how to remove mould from under fresh paint” with very little luck. There were, however, plenty of resources available on how to remove mould from the surface. But that was no good to me. Incidentally, the best way is to scrub it off with regular household bleach. But bear in mind, that may not prevent it from occurring again. You need to find and address the root of the problem. Of course, the root of the problem could just be mentally retarded tenants that don’t like upholding basic human hygiene standards.

While I’m convinced my ex-tenants are strong contenders for taking home “the biggest idiots on the planet” award, I don’t believe they’re the only people applying their own stupid twist on tackling mould, as frightening as that reality may be. Therefore, I’m documenting my fix, in case some other poor sod is going through a similar experience and is in need of some practical advise and a supporting hug. *Hug*

I hadn’t had much experience with mould in the past, but I could tell that the infestation in the bathroom wasn’t extreme and didn’t require professional help. The only assistance I received was from the comments I read in various forums. I managed to bastardise several tips and produce my own cure (nothing revolutionary, mind you).

My experience: combating mould under a fresh coat of paint

1) Diagnose
The first thing I did was scrape off a small area of the top coat of paint so I could get a closer look and diagnose the diarrhea stains that was eating up my walls. I had to be sure it was mould before treating it with anti-mould remedies.

Fortunately, in my case, it was pretty obvious I was dealing with mould… because it looked all moudly and stuff. Good technical diagnosis from me there.

Apparently mould commonly gets confused with dirt (really?). I read that the best way to distinguish between mould and dirt is to apply bleach to the area. If the brown stains lighten then it’s most likely mould, because bleach won’t change the colour of dirt. I’m not sure how true that is, but it seemed to be the general consensus among the forum contributors. Either way, I bypassed the bleach test, I just went with my unqualified gut-instinct and my lifetime experience of never dealing with mould. But come on, mould looks like mould! It was definitely mould!

Annoyingly, I forgot to take a ‘before picture’, so I can’t show you the ridiculous state the walls were left by my rat-weasel tenants, so you’ll have to use your imagination. Just imagine bathroom walls sporadically covered in two different shades of white, kind of like a patchwork quilt effect. Now picture me, an unbelievably handsome chap, which has enough sexual prowess to rival a Silverback gorilla, standing there naked, pointing into the suspect areas that had been freshly painted. In reality, I wouldn’t need to be standing their naked, pointing out the mismatching tones, because it was clear as day, but I’m just there for your pleasure.

2) Cleaning the surface
The aim at this stage was to clean the surface from dirt and rub away as much of the fresh emulsion as possible. I wiped the area down with warm soap water. Surprisingly, the newest layer of paint came off effortlessly. Believe it or not, but mould isn’t the most effective adhesive primer. Go figure.

Having rubbed off the majority of the top coat of paint, it soon became clear what I was dealing with. This is what my tenants had painted over:

Ceiling Mould

Allow me to reiterate: they lived with that infestation starring them square in the face, every damn day. The irony is, that’s in the corner of the bathroom; a room dedicated to control and maintain human hygiene. My tenant, the unsterile buffoon, cleaned his penis and other unsavaory body parts with that looking at him in the face. How can he live with himself? Shameful.

3) Stripping the paint
Now that I had exposed the mould to the surface, I could have started scrubbing the area with bleach, and that’s exactly what most people advised in the forums. But I wanted to be more thorough than that, and I’ll explain why…

The dangerous (and envious) quality about mould is that it can fuck with itself. It doesn’t need a partner to reproduce, so a single survivor can rebuild a city. Moreover, mould can get into and under the paint, so even if I scrub and kill the mould on the surface, it wouldn’t necessarily resolve the problem because the infestation could be rooted deeper.

Ensuring that I was removing all the mould was my main objective; the last thing I wanted was to receive a phonecall a few months down the line from my new tenants telling me there’s a mould outbreak, and consequently their vital organs were in the process of shutting down one-by-one. I don’t think I would be mentally strong enough to deal with that!

So this step was all about sparing my sanity by stripping off the old paint, down to the bone. This would allow me to check if the mould managed to penetrate down to the walls or under the paint. But more importantly, it would ensure the mould was being physically removed from the wall, and not just killed with a liquid solution.

Scraping off the paint with a handheld scraper would have taken a lifetime, and I would have most likely damaged my sanity and the walls by taking out huge chunks of plaster due to frustration and fatigue. Instead, I went to B&Q and purchased two bottles of paint remover. I think each bottle set me back £7.

Mould paint stripper

I poured the solution into a paint tray and applied it very generously over the infected areas. I let it settle for 30mins so it could eat away at the paint and transform into a gooey paste. At this point, it was surprisingly easy to lightly scrape/rub off the old paint; it was like tender meat falling off a bone. I didn’t strip the entire bathroom, only the areas that had been covered in mould and a bit more (to be safe).

Below is a picture of the end result. It was a relatively painless experience, even though it probably looks labour intensive.

Stripped walls

Stripped walls

Now that I’ve proved I can be heroic and masculine, let’s move on…

As you can see, the mould hadn’t penetrated the walls, it only managed to attack the paint, which was a massive relief.

4) Wiping down
Having stripped off all the paint, I then aggressively wiped down the areas with a wet sponge. This played two important roles; firstly, it removed the remains of the gooey residue that had formed, but most importantly, it removed the paint stripper solution from the wall. That’s crucial, otherwise I would have had a soul-destroying episode trying to reapply paint on top of paint-stripper. It would not have worked, you know, kind of like painting over freaking mould.

5) Anti-mould solution
At this stage, the walls looked mould free. But I wanted to be extra safe, so I purchased a bottle of PolyCell anti-mould solution from Amazon (£5 approx) and generously sprayed it in and around the areas that were infected.

6) Anti-mould paint
Two days later I examined the area; the walls were stripped down, there wasn’t any sign of mould, and the walls were dry. The area had completely recovered and was ready for a new coat of paint.

In the past I’ve always used the same regular emulsion to paint every room in a property, but after this experience (my first experience with mould), I decided to pay the premium price for anti-mould emulsion. It’s more expensive than regular emulsion, but if you calculate the amount of time and money it could save you from combating against mould, it’s a no-brainer. I’m going to apply anti-mould emulsion in all bathrooms and kitchens I paint from now on.

Anti-mould paint

For those curious, this is what the bathroom looks like now it’s been disinfected from my previous tenants funk…

Bathroom

The severity of mould infestations vary drastically, so I can’t guarantee my solution will work for every case. In fact, I know it won’t. But it worked for me. Here’s a website which covers a whole array of easy-to-follow home remedies for removing lighter cases of mould in the home.

If you’re struggling or feel like you’re out of your depth, it’s imperative you seek professional help immediately.

Prevention is cure

It goes without saying that the best way to cure mould is to prevent it from developing in the first place.

If a landlord provides a tenant with a structurally sound, clean and mould free property, then they’re at the mercy of the tenant, and it’s up to them to act responsibly and prevent mould and dampness from occurring. However, there are a few steps landlords can take to reduce the chances of an outbreak (I now adhere to most of the following steps in all my rentals):

  • First and foremost (and most crucially), avoiding filthy and utterly stupid tenants is key. This can be done by thorough tenant referencing e.g. get references from previous landlords.
  • Use mold resistant products like the anti-mould paint, especially in high-risk areas like kitchens and bathrooms.

    Alternatively, I recently came across ‘antibacterial paint additive’, which looks like a pretty cool solution. You basically mix the liquid into any ol’ regular paint and it apparently prevents mould and mildew from multiplying, thus they die out before becoming unsightly mouldy patch. It’s cheaper than off-the-shelf anti-mould paint (but does the same thing) and effective for the lifetime of the painted surface…

    (if anyone tries this solution, please let me know how you get on!)

  • Install an extractor fan in the bathroom which activates when the bathroom light is switched on. Also, an extractor fan in the kitchen, above the cooker.
  • Allow extractor fans to overrun for 20mins once they’re switched off. This is a common feature in most modern extractors.
  • Ensure gutters get cleaned and serviced regularly, especially if the property is close to tall trees.
  • Don’t provide the property with any indoor plants. The moist soil in indoor plants is a perfect breeding ground for mould, which may then spread to other areas of the house.
  • Check that there are no leaks in the property before, during and after each let. Goes without saying regular landlord inspections are crucial to help keep your property in order.
  • Even if you see the slightest sign of mould, remove it immediately, and make it’s all gone. Many people make the mistake of leaving traces of mould behind, and then wonder why it keeps resurfacing. If you don’t kill/remove it ALL, mould spores will just continue to grow/spread.
  • Don’t let a property that is infested with mould- cure the problem first! I’m not sure how tried and tested it is, but if a tenant becomes ill due to the landlord’s negligence, it could end up costly.
  • If the property is naturally warm and damp for whatever reason, you could provide the property with a humidifier.
  • Tiles are a lot more resistant to mould than plasterboard/walls, so it seems to be the safer option in comparison to paint. Although, grouting seems to extract mould pretty easily, but at least that’s easier to clean than paint- you can also get anti-mould grout!
  • A costly option is to install a PIV loft unit (e.g. Envirovent or Nuaire Drimaster). It constantly pushes dry air from the loft into the house, raising the pressure slightly and forcing out the damp air so that the humidity is reduced to a level where mould doesn’t form. It might be a step worth taking if your property severely struggles with dampness.

Who’s responsible for mould, landlord or tenant?

In most cases, when mould is discovered in a rented property, both landlord and tenant frantically try to workout who is responsible, while pointing at one another.

It can be a difficult question to answer and it usually depends on what is causing the problem. For more information, you may want to head over to the Who Is Responsible For Mould- Tenant Or Landlord? blog post.

But ultimately, finding the cause and treating it is what’s most important. If a tenant complains about dampness or mould, don’t just play the blame game and leave it unresolved. Try to work together in order to resolve the problem quickly and efficiently, even if that means spending a little bit of money.

Has anyone else had any experience with mould? Can anyone provide any further tips? Let’s go…









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One of the biggest problem is ignorance, and the best cure for that is education. If more tenants and landlords are made aware of the problems associated with mould, they may take it more seriously and act accordingly. As a new personal policy of mine, I’m going to provide this leaflet to all new tenants.

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104 Comments- Join The Conversation...

Showing 54 - 104 comments (out of 104)
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anv81a 11th July, 2014 @ 21:20

OPEN THE WINDOWS!
In my properties...if you look closely you will see that the windows "open". every room has at least one window...some have two... this is what we call "ventilation".. and for reasons of "hygiene" every room (in my houses) has at least one opening window... some have more... but....and its not an onerous task... but - you have to use them...
Really? honestly? Yes. People - state this stuff!In my experience tenants (by their nature - not owning buildings!) are not conscious of how properties are constructed and designed, and building regs applied to rennovations are not sympathetic to the Victorian housing that makes up the majority of the uk's housing stock. The Victorians built some decent housing - so good that we still use it, but airflow was critical to the house being able to breathe.In my experience explaining this to tenants helps them and you keep the property mould free. It keeps everyone happy. In my experience tenants dont want to live in mould either, most tenants are simply people just wanting to live happy lives too. In Victorian properties keep those flues open & educate your tenants about the need for airflow, those windows open for a reason. & dont expect your letting agent to be educated about this either... they just want their percentage.

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Podvon 25th July, 2014 @ 09:20

Wow this deteriorated into an anti-landlord rant pretty fast...

I have rented property from dreadful landlords too, the last one so bad that I literally had water running in rivulets down the walls, but I came here searching for tips on dealing with mould.

I just moved into a new rental which I knew had been empty for a while hence me getting a good deal on the rent. The previous tenants apparently trashed the place and there is a fair bit of evidence of extensive repair work having been done.

Now I have found a couple of small patches of black mould. I guess I could go off on a rant about it but I have lived in these old Victorian back-to-back houses for decades and I know a ventilation issue when I see one. I will treat the patches now and repaint and if it comes back in a week then I will contact the letting agent about it as that will indicate an ongoing problem that the owner needs to be involved in resolving.

A good landlord can be hard to find I know but they do exist and if you have one then praise the Lord and work with them.

Great blog post and very helpful thanks. Shame some people didn't read it properly before going off on one.

@fuddy valnera - seriously? It is people like you who make it so easy for bad landlords to take advantage of the rest of us, and yes you do need removing from the streets and preferably the gene pool.

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Tinny 25th July, 2014 @ 10:07

I think the rude replies are unnecessary. I recently had to rent a flat as we were stuck between properties, having sold ours and not having found a new one. The property was newly decorated so no mould but mould quickly appeared in the bathroom. Most of the problem was down to property; built in 60s with no cavity wall or insulation, the landlord has tiled just a very tiny bit around the bath, leaving the walls to soak up water, no air vents on windows or anywhere, no fan.
The flat was on the ground floor without lockable windows and really near the main road and a sidewalk. I did not feel safe leaving it open for long even when in the flat. My friend's parents were assaulted in their ground floor flat by a junkie jumping through the window.

The landlord was the only guy accepting our two cats so we bought a powerful dehumidifier. It solved the problem. I also found that having a bath raised less moisture in the air than having a shower, despite the popular belief that baths evaporate and create more moisture.
I did, however, see many rented properties while searching to buy that were let out and each had a mould problem whereas those that were private didn't, even in the same block of flats. This could be down to several reasons; tenants not really caring about the property as it is not their own, the ignorance about condensation but also things such as bad insulation and ventilation of the property. It is not always fair to say air the place if the place does not come with basic safety features that would allow you to leave the windows open, especially when you are not at home. Also, even if the landlord buys the dehumidifier, the tenant spends money on running costs. As far as I saw, some landlords buy the nasties properties because they are cheap and don't care about the problems associated with such places. I am also against the blame on the tenant's drying of washing etc. I lived in a house built in mid 80s for 17 years, that was well insulated and didn't know what condensation was until I rented a ground floor flat built in the 60s. Sometimes it is the property that is to blame.

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Podvon 25th July, 2014 @ 11:05

Unless the property is in an inherently poor state of repair, which yes I know a lot are, then it is hardly fair to blame the property for being unable to contend with your lifestyle. You have to synergize with your home and if you can't then perhaps that is just not a suitable property for you to be renting. I know that most people, myself included, have found themselves at some point forced out of necessity to rent an unsuitable property but that isn't the properties fault.

I have had the same problems renting because of my cats so I can identify with that and I do think that you hit the nail on the head there that there are a lot of factors from lack of care, ignorance and bad maintenance that combine to confuse the issue. I am inclined to blame ignorance on both sides with some landlords not understanding the impact of things like bricking up vents and some tenants not understanding the impact of their actions on the property of its limits with coping with modern removals if it is an old house.

I have to disagree with you on the laundry issue though. Drying washing indoors may be a necessary evil but to do so without fully ventilating the room is just irresponsible. When you dry washing on a radiator where do you think the water goes? Unless you open a window or door or activate an extractor fan then it is still there in the room with you just in the air and when it cools down again it will condense all over the walls, floor, and furniture. You might just as well have thrown the contents of the water bucket from a condenser dryer at your walls.

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Clayton 25th July, 2014 @ 11:12

Vent! Open windows. INSTALL EXTRACTORS AND HEAT RECOVERY VENTILATORS IN THE BEDROOMS.This is all you need to do.

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Podvon 25th July, 2014 @ 11:25

I agree with the opening windows comment unless you happen by some strange coincidence to be my last landlord who tried to blame the floods of water that collapsed the kitchen ceiling on me not opening the bathroom window enough (it was a leaking pipe that he knew about for months, obviously :-P)

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Tinny 25th July, 2014 @ 11:48

Podvon, I agree regarding the washing. And I did air the flat regularly but still had the same issues I did not have in another house, that was my point.
My habits have not changed but in the rented property I had to buy a dehumidifier.
I think the problem is not so much moisture in the atmosphere but rather where it lands. If the walls are stone cold due to no insulation and the air is warm, moisture will be drawn to them rather than staying in the air and escaping outside.
This will, in turn, let the mould grow. I am not saying this cannot be prevented, my point was that I didn't have to in another property, ever.
Now I bought a flat with the cavity wall and things are slightly better, the cavity is hollow but provides some insulation between the outside and the inside.
I still use the dehumidifier although not as much as I did in that rented flat, which makes me believe there are lots of factors to consider.

P.S. Your landlord sounds awful.

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Podvon 25th July, 2014 @ 16:48

Good points there Tinny.

It seems that some of these old buildings just can't cope with indoor drying without help. If the landlord has installed a washer connection and there is no other facility for drying then it could be considered reasonable to assume the building can cope - unfortunately I don't think that a lot of landlords and agents think of that before installing all the 'mod-cons' to attract tenants.

As someone else said earlier, it comes down to educating both parties so that the problem gets solved rather than turning into a blame game. You obviously did the responsible thing in identifying the problem and doing something about it rather than just ignoring it as the landlord's problem. There has been a lot of anger in some of these earlier posts and whilst I know where it comes from it isn't helpful.

That leaflet for tenants sounds like a good idea. Maybe agents and landlords could use reading one too. It is just a pity that the people who won't bother to read it are the ones who most need to.

You can probably get some sort of council grant or award to install insulation in you walls. Apologies if you have already looked into that.

(When I left my landlord was facing a flurry of legal action from the neighbours' landlords for damage to their property caused by his negligence - so it looks like he will pay for it even if I couldn't make him. My new Landlady seems like a gem and I never want to move again :-) )

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Ermintrude 9th September, 2014 @ 20:15

I have had a problem with tenants who produce mould (and cockroaches). Actually I think urine is the worst it is very difficult to shift the smell.

I now insist on a 1600rpm spin speed washing machine which I provide. So damp clothes are not draped over the radiators.

As for educating tenants sounds good, but does not work when they do not have a brain cell between them.

I managed to get them an extra dustbin because they just could not get the hang of recycling.

I also had a language problem, but though they spoke good English when I let the house to them, once things got difficult somehow they could not understand anything.

They apparently went up and down the road rubbishing me for getting rid of them because of the cockroaches, and it had the opposite effect, and I had loads of people asking to rent the house.

Getting rid of the mould, the roaches, the urine and the grease in the kitchen took a long time.

I also recommend vinegar. I previous set of tenants complained about mould. So I provided vinegar and told them to add it to water and wash the walled regularlym having removed the mould first.

They were very sceptical but I insisted they gave it a try. I went back a couple of weeks later and they said they were amazed there was no mould to be seem.

But the really mouldy tenants would not use vinegar or anything else, and as fast as I cleared the mould it would reappear. But then I realised I was simply doing her cleaning for her and gave up.

Having the thermostat on the heating up at 24 did not help either, no sure how they afforded the cost of the gas.

Perhaps the thing that really got me was that the husband worked as a cleaner for a local supermarket.

While the pest controller told me that some of the houses he had visited recently the inhabitants worked at the local hospital.

My house is dated around 1900 it was built for open fires and not double glazing and yes one bath a week for the entire family in front of the range. And washing on Mondays so the house had a whole week to dry out.

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David 14th September, 2014 @ 18:57

Just taken on a flat from a housing ass. Took the old wallpaper off in the bed room and there is mold. I used anti mold cleaner but it didn't shift the mold.

Should I just put an undercoat of paint over it? Don't have the money to get it done proffessenial.

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The Landlord Avatar
The Landlord 15th September, 2014 @ 08:30

Hi David,

I definitely wouldn't just paint over mold, that was what my tenants' did. Mold will eat through paint pretty easily, so it's a recipe for disaster. Painting isn't a treatment, it's just hiding the problem.

I would keep applying bleach and scraping it off. Have you tried scraping it?

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Emla 11th October, 2014 @ 14:42

Landlord comes across as immature in his comments. Just state the point.

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pat 27th October, 2014 @ 19:25

I am a landlady and have rented out a top floor flat in a modern block for years. Never had a mold problem. The last tenant left me with a bedroom, kitchen and bathroom covered with mold. She is an older persons care worker. I had to take the ceiling down in the bathroom and renew and replaster because the mold was so intense . I scrubbed the whole place out with thick bleach . The blinds were black. She never opened the windows, the extractor had never been used and was full of cobwebs and every crack stuffed with cloths . The windows were covered in grease and mold and I could see that they had never been opened . Her credit reference was spotless and she always paid the rent on time. She never complained about damp or mold. In fact she would never let me in for I inspection and the law says I cant go into a tenants property without their permission. So its not always the landlords fault

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Fadumo 11th November, 2014 @ 21:55

Idiots, absolutely hideous. I've had to deal with the same shit####holes most of my rented life. Thanx for the tips.

P.s
What great writer you are, honestly. Should consider looking into
writing a Novel.

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Emma 12th November, 2014 @ 23:44

Im wondering if anyone has had a similar experience to me and may know I stand legally at getting my tennants to pay rent. Heres my story.
I have a basement flat which I have had humidity & damp problems with. So far Ihave spent about £5000 getting walls damp proofed, extractor fans installed and a piv installed. The humidity levels dropped, so I rented it out. Two months after my tennants report mould growing on clothing, shoes and walls. I go and see the problem and when I walk in the heat hits me. They have the heating on full blast and all the doors shut and have not opened the windows. I gave them a dehumidifier and told them to ventilate the property. They are now refusing to pay rent by saying it is unhabitable. Which it is not, it just needs to be ventilated. They wont take responsibility for their actions and I'm not getting my rent. How can I solve this? Any suggestions?

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Marcel 8th January, 2015 @ 20:05

I own 8 residential rental properties and the stories I hear from tenants about other properties are unreal. That said my properties are normally ok until someone decides to keep the windows closed and dry their washing inside. A simple explanation to the tenant usually solves that problem.

This site as some good info: www.byemould.com

I particularly like the HG Mould Remover and UniBond dehumidifier.

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Brian 23rd January, 2015 @ 12:14

Hi

Found your Guide and Advise very useful, I just wanted to tell you about my experience,. I moved into a two bedroom house in Dublin, nice area and a friend viewed the property and decided to take, but wished I had done the viewing as noticing that their was no extractor fan in the bathroom would have rung alarm bells,. and after moving in and several showers later noticed damp coming through the "paint covered" walls, then I instantly knew exactly what was occurring, being winter the top roof window was closed shut, no pole to open, so I had to invest in a ladder and with great risk to myself climbed up and had to push the rotten wood window open, because this window was so high up I have to leave it slightly open all the time as the steam has nowhere to escape, I bought myself non electric humidifiers as theres no way to plug an electric one into the bathroom, I ended up paying over 100 Euro for damp paint, cleaning solution etc. but after a month or so the damp is back, and im having to repeat the process. ive explained to landlord who advised of receipt and repaid me, but im having to do this all over again, and they really do need to get an extractor fan, but they don't listen.

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MouldCoveredLandlady 26th January, 2015 @ 14:45

@landlord
Brilliant, loved this.

I feel exactly the same about my tenants who I have served a section 21 notice to because they have managed to grow extensive mould in not just one, but 3 rooms of the beautiful, formally mould free, property of mine.

Four leaflets about condensation mould and how it is caused and how to prevent it, 3 structural surveys (2 from surveyors, one from a specialist damp company), 3 survey reports showing the cause of the problem to be condensation, one brand new extractor in the bathroom (even though I believe the one in there worked fine) later, and the tenants still say they believe the problem is because of a problem with the structure of the flat, and not them. No, it can't possibly be them because they have lived in a total of 13 different rented properties in the past (a fact I personally found quite worrying in itself) and they have never had a flat full of mould before.

'But are you quite sure you are opening the windows, using both extractor fans, having the heating on a constant medium temperature, not too hot, not too cold?' I asked. 'Yes of course, we are intelligent and extremely well paid city workers, we know how to live in a property thank you very much' they answer.

So I tried to open the windows and it's then that I am informed the windows have all been painted shut since May 2014 (yes, that's a total of 8 months). OH MY GOD! DISGUSTING.. So you haven't actually had the windows open for 8 months and you are at a loss as to how this problem could be occurring. And no joke, the tenants are on a combined salary of over £150,000. You can't buy common sense.

So thus ensues a very long argument about the fact I have caused them to live in unworldly conditions you wouldn't incubate a flea in, whilst I am pretty sure all evidence points to them. Now, it might not be their fault the windows were painted shut (after some external redecorating works were carried out to the whole building), but my managing agent is not psychic in order to know they are painted shut, without the tenants notifying them. It took a handyman all of 5 minutes to open them.

Soooo.. now I am evicting the tenants when their contract is up in April. Remarkably they want to stay, despite threatening to sue me over their living conditions and informing my managing agent that they believe there is some sort of conspiracy against them (no doubt the 3 independent survey reports into the mould) and that I have been lying to them..??

And I will need to completely refurbish the property to get rid of their shocking mess, and this post is going to be followed, so I place my faith in you.

Landlords an tenants need to work together. As a landlord(lady), I can only do so many things - secondary glazing (my property has large Georgian sash windows), extractor fans, which do work, in bathroom and kitchen, humidifier (yes I supplied one)... After that it really is just down to the tenant to keep their eyes open and their brains engaged. Oh, there's a lot of steam in here as I just had a shower - Open the window then!!

Any condensation / mould tips, do let me know.

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Charlotte Ross 31st March, 2015 @ 12:34

Omg, I've never come across someone so rude. Your tenants made a mistake regarding the mould issue in your property but there's no need to be so viscous and have such little respect for people.

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Yvonne 10th June, 2015 @ 11:55

All I can say is that I have had such a good laugh of the comments left on this site, glad to see so many people with a sense of humour.

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audrey 21st June, 2015 @ 09:09

I bought a property about 7 years ago to rent out. looked great then discovered the walls had been lined with some kind of polystyrene lining under woodchip - then the mould came. I think I've spent about 2 years sorting it. this involved new air vents, new windows and bigger double radiators. I think making a warmer environment was the key and 1950s house construction isn't so good, the walls get quite cold. so not all landlords are rubbish, I do care and it has been very expensive solving the problem though I'll never be able to solve the basic house construction I've done what I can, insulating the loft, providing more heat and more ventilation.

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Marilyn Taylor 20th July, 2015 @ 12:44

I agree with Stella all the way what a thoroughly unscrupulous Landlord. I rented in London for 33years and I had real bum Landlords who wouldn't spend a penny. My flat had high ceilings and large windows and was an extremely light and sunny flat. I never experienced any mould whatsoever. The Landlords always complemented me on any clean the flat was. I now live in my own flat which is in a private development architecturally awarded but I am experiencing black mould problems.If I put a roast in the oven and dry any clothes in the kitchen all hell lets loose and even with windows open in cold weather I am all steamed up as kitchen at end of sitting room. So behind the bookcase on an outside wall in the sitting room goes black hence me on this website. The tenants may not have known how to deal with this and did their best to try and rectify the problem ie paint. to insult them in this fashion is just crass. You should be checking up with your tenants to see if they have any problems and then you rectify them or is it all money money money to you spare a thought for your tenants and advise them if you know better. Just sort the problem out for them and let them live in peace.

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Ade 13th August, 2015 @ 18:36

In this case, it is our landlord who painted over mould.

We are moving soon, but I'm still concerned about the health risk in the meantime.

They had problems with rising damp before (the foundation was not properly insulated, there are structural issues and it was built in a period where the mantra was "cheap and fast"). They treated it by drilling holes through the walls. The walls are clearly wet and the plaster is pealing off. Rust next to the light switches due to the walls being so wet.

If I am not allowed to breathe, shower or cook, then the property is not fit for the purpose for which it was let.

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Ade 15th August, 2015 @ 20:55

PS We put up a washing line outside when we moved in (the property had none). My washing machine and tumble drier are both outside (sheltered, obviously).

We NEVER dry clothes on a heater of any kind. We open windows / door and we do heat in winter. The air isn't humid. We actually keep water (to drink) next to our bed at night because the air is so dry.

Extractor fans are probably a good idea, but that is something the landlord is responsible for. No houses in this climate have extractor fans. Some houses next to the coast have them, but that is hundreds of kilometers away.

We DO shower and cook (obviously). Ironically the damp issues are in the sitting and bedrooms. The kithen and bathroom are tiled. Although those walls are extremely wet too. You can see from the cracks and tge plaster coming off on the outside.

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Maureen Osborne 21st August, 2015 @ 14:31

Mould is a big problem. I had this awful thing in my previous apartment. It was a nightmare. This anti-mould paint helped a little. I hope you never have this problem. Best regards! http://haringeyhandyman.org.uk/

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TERRY 23rd August, 2015 @ 08:35

Landlord sounds like a total buy-to-let merchant actively assisting inflationary rents

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CLAYTON 2nd January, 2016 @ 11:31

It's nearly always condensation and it's always worse in the bedroom because you're in there all night breathing out moisture.

If you have mould in the bedroom, wipe it off with bleach and buy a big dehumidifier and run it all day. ALL DAY EVERY DAY!

It's not easy to leave a window open all day and night to vent the moisture.

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John Bull 9th January, 2016 @ 20:33

Painted over mould? You have my sympathy.

The lesson to be learnt though, you appear to have missed. You yourself are not being professional or competent as a landlord (sorry):

An overflowing gutter may be the tenants' job to clear, but they usually won't even be aware of the overflow. So either you give them notice to get it done and then go ahead and have it cleared and charge them, or you get a ladder out and just do it yourself on the grounds that it protects your property and the quality of the neighbourhood.

Also, since we landlords are all bad people ;) , we have to make our houses beyond criticism, so why not install a fan controlled by a humistat that automatically comes on as required? My own let house has a fan that comes on with the light with a 15 minute over-run (a requirement if the WC is in a room with no openable window).

In my own property, the bathroom once began to develop mould which brought it to my attention that the fan shutter had broken and so the fan was not working. This sort of thing is something you only notice if you visit the property every three months at most to carry out basic maintenance and check on the building. This also gives you an opportunity to bring matters to tenants' attention.

Don't ask tenants permission to visit (though they can legally refuse you entry anyway). Serve them formal written notice (ideally by recorded delivery) of your intention to visit on such and such a day, and turn up with the keys on the day agreed (knock first). Then you're setting the rules. This doesn't mean being arrogant, but you can't base your visits on the best possible time for the tenants who may not want to get up before 10.30 etc etc - just a time that isn't totally unreasonable.

I would expect tenants to mess up a job such as decorating which is why I do not usually allow tenants to redecorate, but the place is maintained. If the tenants see the main reason you visit is to look after the property they too are likely to have more respect for it. My tenants know if they call me with a house problem someone will be there to have a look at the problem that very day if necessary.

You really need to start seeing being a landlord as a job (even if it is only part-time) and being more professional about it. The house has to be kept to the correct standard, and if the tenants won't do it, you give them notice that you will arrange to do it/have it done and pass on the associated costs. Even with rubbish tenants, your side of the bargain (maintenance) has to be upheld.

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John Bull 9th January, 2016 @ 20:46

Also, I would like to contradict the general rule about opening bathroom windows.

Opening them for a limited time after a shower is a good thing. If the bathroom is kept warm then condensation at shower time is kept to a minimum and the room can be vented for 20 minutes after the shower itself.

Opening them before a shower (i.e. keeping the windows open) is a bad thing - it chills the walls and then the vapour caused by the shower immediately condenses on the walls. In the British climate, these are unlikely to dry out properly until June.

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The Landlord Avatar
The Landlord 9th January, 2016 @ 20:49

@John
I did learn from my lesson though, as stated in the "prevention is cure" section- I now adhere to a bunch of extra mould prevention techniques that I never previously did, including a 20min overrun of the extractor fan (which is controlled by the light switch) and anti-mould paint etc.

Thanks for your comment :)

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Jules 30th January, 2016 @ 17:00

A very interesting article. The comments also. We can all agree there are some awful landlords out there and tenants that shouldn't be allowed anywhere near a decent dwelling.

My experience is with a council as my landlord. I've lived in my house for over 20 years and have had to fight the council every step of the way for everything. I could fill a book with the exploits of this bunch. I believe i'm a model tenant. Pay my rent on time, look after the external side of the property and take enormous pride of the inside. Sadly, i'm on my own in this. The house is a great large 3 bedroomed property built in the 70's and the plumbing not replaced in that time till last year. I had complained on 14 separate occasions about the mould issues. I followed all the advice i could find in relation to my responsibilities as a good tenant. I knew there was an issue but despite my efforts the council fobbed me off and they did nothing. I suggested it could be coming from the loft or maybe a leaky roof. I can't access this area myself unfortunately. They ignored me. I went on holiday and the upstairs ceiling collapsed and the water from the leaky old water tank poured into the house for days. My daughter came round by chance to sort out the mail and was confronted by something from a scene from a disaster movie. I won't carry on moaning but will say to everyone to not just clean the mould. Make sure there isn't a more serious reason for the issues.

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Jess 4th February, 2016 @ 21:25

OMG, I just read your article and had tears running down my face it was so funny!! The people critisizing you in the comments really need to get a sense of humour.....

I am also a landlord (lady) and we also have a problem with really scanky tenants who basically have never tried to clean the property since they moved in (at least they didn't try to cover it up though!). We have a house which was built in the same decade and is a similar build and in the winter, we have a recurring problem with mould in the bathroom and around the windows upstairs and during the winter months, I wipe the condensation from the windows every day and I have to clean around our bath/shower on the grout and sealant every time we use it.

Yes, there are properties which do not suffer with many mould problems (I have lived in several properties) and they are usually new builds that have been massively insulated or flats which only have one outside wall.

The point is, that in the houses that do suffer from mould (as does our house, our rented property and my parent's house), then you have to regularly CLEAN particularly during the winter months and that goes a LONG way!!)

We have an extractor fan in the bathroom of our rented property but it still needs to be cleaned and we've never had any problems with previous tenants but when I saw how our current ones live, I nearly threw up!! We viewed the house in the summer and at that point it was fine but then a few months later when it had turned cold, we viewed it again and OMG, the mould had built up sooooo much!! Was quite interesting in a way because it showed me what would happen in our house if we never cleaned it. Absolutely revolting!!! We were so disgusted we spent a weekend in there testing it (with damp proof specialists) as we initally freaked out and thought we had a massive rising damp or penetrative damp problem but the specialists said it was from condensation so we scrubbed it all off (whilst the tenants watched us), not with anything chemical or with bleach but with regular sugar soap!!! We are going back soon to do what you did and remove the paint and then re-paint with Dulux Bathroom + so thanks a lot for all your advice!!

Think it's just majorly important to state that landlords and tenants have to WORK TOGETHER. Our tenants have never reported anything wrong (and we wished they did because we would have intervened sooner) but it was staggering to see how filthy the place had become in 3 months. Not just the mould, there was a lack of cleanliness everywhere but the mould looked the worst. Tenants should report any problem and if you have a dodgy landlord who ignores it then you should threaten them by saying you are going to sue them for negligence which has caused you to suffer ill health (the threat should be enough in most cases hopefully) but at the same time, the tenant has to regularly clean (I can see that a lot of tenants on here regularly clean but some like ours, DEF don't).

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star 8th February, 2016 @ 17:59

my landlord has just told me to wipe off the mild and keep painting over it because he doesn't want to fit a fan!

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Diza 23rd February, 2016 @ 13:02

Wish I had a nice and througher landlord like yourself. The mould in my private rental has been present since before I moved in (the previous tenant only moved around the corner) but it didn't become more apoarent until it was winter. My stuff ruined, i complained but fobbed off with the condensation excuse and niavely went with that. I couldnt afford to move out, I wish i had. I have to replace a lot of items/ furniture/clothes/matress on a periodic basis, bleach the walks every couple of months.
We had a surveyor in, they reccomended the walls are stripped back and insulated, ... my landlord claims they nedd access for essential repairs which only amount to painting and decorating (not even with anti mould paints)
Council wont help, now im being evicted for trying to get the correct repairs and council say im making myself homeless... sorry, im really depressed about all of this. Yes, Im trying to get the correct works done but niether do i want to be expose to plaster dust (they want to skim over the cracks) when we're already suffering from the bloody mould... I cant work them out, she doesnt want me here, but wants the money, doesnt want to do the best in order to stop the cold spots but uses tbe paint and decorating as grounds to mess me up in ever getting help to leave the property...
If anyone has a bit of ground down south I can park a mobile home on let me know!! 😞

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fedup 24th February, 2016 @ 13:33

Diaz. how about getting a job and nobody "down south" wants your pikey ass down here.

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Anthony 24th February, 2016 @ 14:06

Diza... get a big dehumidifier in the bedroom. Run it on high for a few hours a day. Wipe off any mould with a bleach spray. That's all that's needed in most cases.

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Christie 6th April, 2016 @ 07:19

Sorry haven't got a similar experience to share, just wanted to say I absolutely cried laughing at this blog!! 😂😂😂
Think it's amazing! Landlord is a legend!

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Natalie 21st April, 2016 @ 10:05

I was disgusted by the way you spoke of your tenants, and I am glad they have moved out out of your house. Hopefully they found a quality property which does not have mould in it:)

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The Landlord 21st April, 2016 @ 11:20

@Natalie
I'm glad they moved out too :)

2 years later, the current tenants have no mould whatsoever (just like all the previous tenants, all 4 of them, before the one's I blogged about)...and I'm still receiving debt collection letters for the mould-riddened tenants, because they failed to pay utility bills and credit card bills.

So if you genuinely believe the problems weren't self-inflicted by my ex filthy tenants, that's your problem...

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Henry 29th August, 2016 @ 23:03

To Diza and other tenants...

If you are doing all the things you should to prevent / get rid of condensation and you still have damp / mould, give your landlord the opportunity to fix the problem.

If you have a crap landlord that won't and doesn't care, give your local council's Environmental Health Department a ring. They are concerned with poor heath effects of rental properties and can make landlords remedy problems.

I found out about this because a 'Princess' tenant threatened me with involving Env. Health.
So I spoke to them to see what their powers were (sorry a long time ago so cannot remember all the details). Turned out that apart from fixing something I intended anyway I was okay.

Apart from her mother coming to live with her and her son (not on the tenancy agreement) meant the flat was now officially "overcrowded"!
I would have laughed at what she'd brought upon herself due to her threat, apart from the fact that Env. Health could sue me because she had caused the overcrowding!

So I told her she had to leave and gave her a month or two to find alternative, larger accommodation or I'd have to evict.
After years of her demanding more than she should expect given the resonable rent (she wanted a 'palace for pennies') she suddenly became reasonable and found a new place within a month and moved out. Yes, I had to give her a reference to enable her to move, but I told the letting agency for her new flat she needed to be treated fairly but firmly - from the start- and she'd be okay.

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Rebecca Bassett 5th October, 2016 @ 16:03

I am a tenant and have lived in our house for 7 years and have suffered damp and mould for 7 years. We are in an end of terrace sun is on the front of the property all day and in shadow at the rear. We open our windows every day 365 days a year, we shower with the widows open slightly and use a kercher window cleaner to suck all the water off the walls in the bathroom. We do not dry clothes on radiators and use a condenser dryer. I bleach the ceilings 1 a month and clean the windows and sills every 2 months ( we work full time)
It is depressing to live in these conditions in this day and age I haven't decorated for a few years , what's the point ! My sons bedroom is the worse yes I know he's a teenager that's normal but this is a bad mouldy smell, all the paint has come off his window sill, most mornings I use the kercher to suck off all the condensation which normally equates to a jug full. Our landlord has just fitted an envirovent system (look it up) and a thermostatically controlled extractor in the kitchen but the guy who fitted it has said we need to clean all the mould off and re paint with an anti fugal paint, what gets me is I've spent 7 years cleaning this shithole we can't afford to move out (rip off estate agent fees) and now they expect me to fork out of my own pocket to keep their property decorated,our landlord has 1,000's of properties and we are 1 of many who look after our properties to a decent standard , but this is the limit. So landlords just think sometimes us tenants are not all bad sometimes we just get fed up clearing up for someone else. I'll let the blog know how the new venting system works.

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Ryan 20th December, 2016 @ 19:47

Not only was this the most entertaining article I've read this month, but I am following it to the letter since I have the exact same problem - however for me it was buying the house in that state.

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fredie 16th March, 2017 @ 06:26

Move to a country where dampness is not a problem!!
Issue fix !!!

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Donna 18th July, 2017 @ 09:19

I have to say I was so horrified to hear your lamenting of your tenants. The tenants who tried to make mould by painting? Doesn't this say they actually cared about leaving the property in good order albeit they missed the point entirely.

Your onslaught against their character told the whole story. Sorry but you sound unsupportive and critical to the point of ridiculous. When I rented a flat my tenants would pick up the phone to talk about snags, we could resolve them together. They knew I would listen and I knew they were telling me as they wanted to keep the property in good order.

I actually remember mould and fungus becoming an issue and we added ventilator bricks and a dehumidifier and hey presto... all happy.

If you are still a landlord I would take an Insights personality test to understand how you come across to others and then go for it - change your behaviour. I don't think many people reading your article could have felt anything more than sympathy for your abandoned tenants. Your tenants should be your customers and you should strive to check all is well.... not leave it to them to get wrong.

Good luck.

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The Landlord Avatar
The Landlord 18th July, 2017 @ 10:03

@Donna
No offence, but please, spare me. You seem like a nice person, but your baseless judgemental narrative is annoying. You've actually gone down the complete wrong path, and not for one second have you considered that they could genuinely be 'bad tenants'

Firstly, I don't actually communicate with people like how I vent on my 'personal blog'. I wouldn't dare.

In any case...

I'm insulted by the fact you refer to them as "abandoned tenants", and I'm actually convinced you either didn't read the blog post, or you just completely ignored what you read and then made up what you wanted to believe.

They never once informed me about the mould issue, they simply painted over it, which I noticed during the final inspection. The tenant also lied about contacting me about the issue.

I'm a good landlord and I am very approachable, and I resolve problems ASAP. They were genuinely bad tenants. 2 years after they vacated, I was still receiving debt collection letters for them, from several different agencies. And yes, they were 2 months in arrears with me as well.

I have made dozens of blog posts about how treating good tenants with respect should be the landlords main goal etc.

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John Bull 20th July, 2017 @ 22:32

Well, it sounds like they were behaving in a tenant-like manner. This sometimes seems to involve having a unique ability to break things in improbable ways. But so long as my various tenants paid the rent and didn't start telling lies, I was happy with the situation.
Of course, now I'm a reformed character and have move into my former rental house, I still have to maintain it, but nobody pays me rent :( . That said, the improbable breakages seem to have ceased.

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Helen 9th October, 2017 @ 22:19

I am a tenant, I live with my husband and 2 children in a two bedroom property. We are big ventilators - actually I never encounter another household that keeps the windows and doors open as much as we do, all year round. Yet, we had mould.. We moved into this place in March 2011 and are about to leave this November. The first Autumn/Winter we lived here, I dried clothes indoors, big mistake. I had done this in other homes and I never had a problem. In the Spring the next year, the landlord, gave us a drier and painted over the mould and in the Autumn we brought a dehumidifier and made sure the door of the bathroom was left open and one of the bedrooms (with door stoppers), to allow for even more flow of air, from each side of the flat. Two sets of curtains got damaged from that time. I put them away, as I didn't want to live with mouldy curtains and the landlords didn't offer any solutions to them at that time. Now it is time for us to leave, I asked them what they want us to do with them, as I said there is no point dry cleaning them, as they are mouldy. They believe it is our cost to replace them, I don't agree, I think that the flat, the way it is made and being ground floor is prone to high humidity. We are also 4 in what I originally think was build for 1 or 2 people. Thoughts please, as I need to find a solution. They have been great landlords, so I don't like finishing here on a bad note, but to cover the cost of replacing 2 sets of large curtains is huge.

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Tanya 16th November, 2017 @ 12:53

It is obvious that you are a lazy landlord. How can you blame your tenants for a problem that you should have prevented? It is appalling! I am a landlord and I am aware of the duties of a landlord, your tenant shouldn't have painted anything! You should be happy that they even tried. "Incompetent tenant" you should be ashamed of yourself acting so ignorant. It is your sole responsibility as the landlord to make checks and repairs periodically. Were you not maintaining your property? Please cut the crap and stop blaming the poor tenant for your lack of responsibility.

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The Landlord Avatar
The Landlord 16th November, 2017 @ 13:03

@Tanya
I get the impression you didn't even read the blog post.

1) I know my responsibilities as a landlord.

2) My tenant never informed me of an infestation. If your property had a leak and your tenants didn't inform you, and the leak eventually caused the ceiling to collapse, would you blame yourself? I hope so.

3) I have had the property for 10 or so years, and they are the only tenants that have had mould issues. That's not a coincidence.

4) As soon as I was made aware of the problem I fixed it immediately, and spent money on redecorating the bathroom.

5) The tenants fell into 2 months of arrears and they ended up leaving the country (back to France, their native country) because they were up to their eyeballs in debts (not just with me). I had several debt-collectors turn up to the property looking for them.

If that's your definition of a "poor tenant", you're an absolute nut-job.

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Bob 23rd November, 2017 @ 13:13

And the moral of the story... If you don't like people and don't have any money, get a job, then you wont have to rent your property and interact with "people"... Poor you... GET A JOB!

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The Landlord Avatar
The Landlord 23rd November, 2017 @ 13:15

@Bob
Or, just get competent tenants that bother reporting serious maintenance issues, instead of trying to hide it...

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