At this time of year, Citizens Advice Jersey usually sees an increase in the number of enquiries from tenants about housing conditions. For some, the decrease in temperature brings damp and mould.
Damp occurs when warm air meets cold surfaces, causing water droplets to form. If left untreated, it can cause mould to grow on walls and furniture, mildew on clothes, rotting of wooden window frames and breathing problems for occupants of rental properties.
Our advice is first to establish whether the issues are within a tenant’s control through measures to address moisture, heating and ventilation. Preventing moisture can include keeping lids on pots when cooking, using an extraction fan after a bath or shower and drying clothes outside or next to an open window, dehumidifier or extraction fan. Keeping heating on for longer periods at a lower temperature is very effective, however this option may be unaffordable for some households and especially for those on lower incomes. Windows should be opened slightly for at least 30 minutes each morning. Dehumidifiers and extraction fans can remove moisture from the air without losing heat.
If a tenant is following this guidance and the accommodation still has persistent damp, it may be necessary to ask Environmental Health to inspect the property to assess the problem and discuss suitable treatments.
Housing conditions were recently in local headlines when, in response to a question by Deputy Rob Ward, Environment Minister John Young revealed that 2,900 out of 3,000 (or 97 per cent of) rental homes had failed minimum standards since legislation was introduced two years ago. Of course, the majority of these inspections were carried out reactively following a complaint so this figure is not an accurate reflection of rental accommodation as a whole, but it is concerning that there are thousands of properties that do not meet basic minimum health and safety regulations. The Minister said this was an unacceptably high rate of non-compliance and he is actively exploring proactive ways of ensuring all accommodation complies.
Data was not collected on what criteria they failed. A full list of criteria, along with all other legal requirements for landlords, is available on the Citizens Advice Jersey website here - Jersey Citizens Advice - Housing Standards ( 11.8.1.L6 ) (cab.org.je)
You can find more detailed information on this topic in Hamilton Fraser Total Landlord Insurance’s guide, Identify and prevent damp, mould and condensation in your property, and download a helpful advice sheet to assist your tenants in identifying and managing the effects here. Hamilton Fraser Total Landlord Insurance has also put together a video to help you prevent damp, mould and condensation becoming an unwanted expense in your rental property.