Honourable and personal residential letting experts


Hit the target and miss the point – damp or condensation?

Why the subject of damp in homes has become so divisive in the rental sector.

In this blog we will cover

  • What can cause mould spores to grow?
  • What needs to be to present to make sure that mould can’t grow?
  • What you need to do if your resident says there is a damp issue

Black mould caused by condensation on the walls and ceiling

Since the extremely sad death of two-year-old Awaab Ishak, the subject of damp in homes has become a reportable topic.

The latest report was from Northern Ireland with the headline: ‘Damp on walls mum fears for daughters ’health’.

But it is not surprising that anyone who experiences mould in their home should be concerned.

What is never reported, is that most reports of ‘damp’ and ‘mould’  in a home are caused by the way the home is lived in.

In this ‘unbiased’ report, the BBC showed a picture of the smiling mum with the reported ‘damp’ on the wall in the bedroom that she shared with her daughter.

However to anyone that understands about property, the way the walls were stained with water marks was a clear indication that the problem was condensation.

There was a lot of reported hand-wringing from the housing association that own the property saying they had tried various things over the last three years but nothing had worked. It was only in the second-to-last sentence of the piece which reported that the housing association said they had recently had a damp specialist to visit the property who reported that the problem was due to condensation (i.e. the way the property was being lived in ) and nothing to do with the state of the property.

And this is when it can get divisive. The resident of the home blaming the condition of the home. The owner of the home suggesting that if the home had been ventilated the problem would not have occurred.

Condensation is caused when humid air such as breathing, cooking or drying clothes, meets cold surfaces such as walls or windows causing droplets of water to form on the surface. If it is allowed to sit for too long it could cause mould.

The question that was not covered in the piece was how the house was being heated, but that is another subject altogether.

So, what do you do if you find yourself on the wrong side of the conversation?

Firstly as an owner it is your duty to provide a home that is safe and you have provided the means for the home to be ventilate. For example:

  • Do you have trickle vents in the windows? And are they clear of paint?!
  • If the bathroom does not have a window, is the extractor fan enough for the job? Remember if you have a family of three, the extractor will need to deal with getting rid of the condensation for three showers.
  • Is there an extractor in the kitchen?

What you can’t do as an owner, is to make your resident use everything that is provided. But if you do receive a complaint that mould is growing in the house –  be open minded. The best plan would be to obtain a damp report just in case and once you have this you will know what you need to do.


If you are concerned we have a condensation fact sheet that has helped us over the years to help residents help themselves.