Are you a tenant living in a property that is in disrepair?
Are you overcrowded?
Do you have mould or damp related problems?
Are your windows defective?
Are your sanitary and Heating systems defective?
Is the security of your property affected by the disrepair?
Are there asbestos materials within your property?
The legal position is that a property must be fit for habitation, purpose free od damp and all the services functioning.
Your rights flow from various (set out below) legislation and you are as a tenant entitled to receive a certain standard of living.
If you believe your property falls below the minimum standards, your landlord can be found liable for any specific breaches of the legislation, they can be forced to repair the property and, in some cases, pay compensation.
Dr Antino has undertaken hundreds of surveys relating to housing disrepair cases against private landlords, local authorities and housing associations.
To establish your rights, contact Dr Antino.
We have provided you with some additional reading to go through. Please click on the relevant sections below to find out more.
Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 (Section 11)
In a lease to which this section applies there is an implied a covenant by the lessor.
to keep in repair the structure and exterior of the dwelling house (including drains, gutters and external pipes).
To keep in repair and proper working order the installations in the dwelling house for the supply of water, gas and electricity and for sanitation (including basins, sinks, baths and sanitary conveniences, but not other fixtures, fittings and appliances for making use of the supply of water, gas or electricity) and
To keep repair and proper working order the installations in the dwelling house for space heating and heating water.
The Gas Safety (Legislation and Use) Regulations 1998
Regulation 36 (3), without prejudice to the generating of paragraph 2 above, a Landlord shall: -
(a) ensure that each appliance and flue to which that duty extends is checked for safety within 12 months of being installed and at intervals of not more than 12 months since it was last checked for safety.
The Housing Act 1985 (Section 604)
In determining for any of the purposes of this Act whether premises are unfit for human habitation, regard shall be had to their condition in respect of the following matters: -
freedom from damp,
drainage and sanitary conveniences,
facilities for the preparation and cooking of food and for the disposal of waste water,
and the premises shall be deemed to be unfit if, and only if they are so far defective in one or more of those matters that they are not reasonably suitable for occupation in that condition.
The Environmental Protection Act 1990 (Section 79)
subject to sub sections (2) to (6) below, the following matters constitute “statutory nuisances” for the purposes of this Part that is to say: -
(a) premises in such a state as to be prejudicial to health or a nuisance;
(b) smoke emitted from premises so as to be prejudicial to health or a nuisance;
(c) fumes or gases emitted from premises so as to be prejudicial to health or nuisance;
(d) any dust, steam, smell or other effluvia arising on industrial, trade or business premises and being prejudicial to health or a nuisance;
(e) any accumulation or deposit which is prejudicial to health or a nuisance;
(f) any animal kept in such a place or manner as to be prejudicial to health or a nuisance;
(g) noise emitted from premises as to be prejudicial to health or a nuisance; and
(h) any other matter declared by any enactment to be statutory nuisance;
and it shall be the duty of every Local Authority to cause its areas to be inspected from time to time to detect any statutory nuisances which ought to be dealt with under section 80 below, and where a complaint of a statutory nuisance is made to it by living within its area, to take such steps as are reasonably practicable to investigate the complaint.
The Defective Premises Act 1972 (Section 4)
Where premises are let under a tenancy which puts on the Landlord an obligation to the Tenant for the maintenance or repair of the premises, the Landlord owes to all persons who might reasonably be expected to be affected by defects in the state of the premises a duty to take such care as is reasonable in all the circumstances to see that they are reasonably safe from person injury or from damage to their property caused by a relevant defect.
The said duty is owed if the Landlord knows (whether as the result of being notified by the Tenant or otherwise) or if he ought in all the circumstances to have known of the relevant defect.
In this section “relevant defect” means a defect in the state of the premises existing at or after the material time and arising from, or continuing because of an act or omission by the Landlord, which constitutes or would if he had had notice of the defect, have constituted a failure by him to carry out his obligation to the Tenant for the maintenance or repair of the premises; and for the purposes of the foregoing provision “the material time”.
Health Problems related to mould growth within both residential and commercial buildings have caused major concern in the UK. Mould spores cannot be excluded from buildings and fungi are likely to grow where there is high moisture content, such as in poorly ventilated bathrooms and kitchens. This leaves low cost or social housing particularly vulnerable as these buildings are often poorly ventilated as a means of reducing heat loss.
The fungus, which is causing most concern, is Stachybotrys chartarum. This is a greenish black mould that grows on materials with high cellulose content including timber, dry linings and ceiling tiles. Exposure to high levels of the fungus may affect health by causing cold-like symptom, rashes and the aggravation of asthma. There has also been some evidence reported associating exposure to this mould with pulmonary hemosiderosis (resulting from bleeding in the lungs) in infants (Dearborn et al.1999) who have been exposed for prolonged periods. Other parties particularly at risk include operatives involved in building work where widespread fungal contamination exists. They could be at risk of developing Organic Dust Toxic Syndrome, which results in flu-like symptoms and can occur after a single exposure.
Health issues associated with moulds include;
Excessive exposure can worsen conditions such as asthma, bronchitis, hay fever or other allergies.
Symptoms including nausea, headaches, eye irritation and pulmonary hemosiderosis associated with fungi have been reported, though mainly associated farm workers exposed to contaminated material. (Fung, Clark and Williams 1998).
Cases of infectious disease, such as aspergillosis, may result from exposure to high concentrations of fungi such as Asperigillus fumigatus. Otherwise, infectious disease is considered an unlikely outcome of exposure to mould. Pigeon Fanciers’ lung is a complaint associated with spores released from pigeon droppings and/or feathers, and in 2000 caused the only recent death associated with exposure to pigeons.
The importance of regular maintenance, careful design and remediation for ensuring healthy internal environments has been understood for some time. In 1991, it was estimated that mould was present in approximately 3.2 million homes in England. A dwelling suffering mould growth, black spot and condensation can be considered to be the result of a failure to maintain it in “good condition” (Welsh v Greenwich London Borough Council 2000).
The adverse effects of mould on the fitness of a building for human occupation has largely been associated with dampness, odour, humidity, and deterioration of finishes and the building fabric. Mould growth may result from water ingress and consequent water damage to cellulose materials. Health problems in occupants of water damaged buildings have been associated with fungal bio-aerosols, particularly Stachybotrys chartarum (Johnanning, et al 1996). Condensation and dampness control has been the primary method of reducing the occurrence of mould in design (such as avoiding cold bridging with flue less gas and oil heaters, incorporating adequate natural and artificial ventilation) and remediation (such as the use of mechanical vents with humidistat’s and increased thermal insulation Garratt, Nowak, 1991. fungicides and biocides have also been used in paints and products.
Property professionals have previously been less concerned about the specific effect it may have on the health of the individual, whether occupant or building operative. In 1995, BRE advised that mould “… may affect the occupants’ health by inducing anxiety. It is also possible that people prone to asthmatic or allergic conditions (roughly 10% of the population) may be affected by long-term exposure to concentrations of airborne spores…” (BRE 1995).
“The prompt remediation of contaminated material and infrastructure repair must be the primary response to fungal contamination in buildings…… Emphasis must be placed on preventing contamination through proper building maintenance and prompt repair of water damaged areas”.
Mould and the Surveyor
This issue may raise the priority for identifying dampness problems and advising prompt remediation in survey reports. Furthermore, any visual identification of mould presence should be reported. Where buildings are occupied, recommending immediate remediation is crucial. It is current accepted practice that sampling is only considered after visual identification of mould growth or other evidence of problems. Care should be taken to consider recently flooded buildings that remain occupied. Are there people who may be particularly sensitive?
There are also implications for maintenance strategy and policy to ensure environments where mould growth will flourish do not occur, especially in indoor environments.
There could be implications for the design, installation, commissioning and maintenance of environmental control and services installations (which could provide a source of means of distribution for fungal spores).
There are two aspects to mould related damage: physical damage to property and health issues. For surveyors, identifying the visible presence of mould growth or situation that could lead to mould growth are important factors. It may be necessary to not only report situations, but to comment on further laboratory analysis and remediation.
What we don’t know is to what extent these moulds exist in our environment, as the technology to establish this has only recently emerged. Knowledge on building mycology is developing. Research is currently being commissioned by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors to examine this issue. Fungal organisms can bring about adverse health effects, which can be fatal (for example, aspergillosis. A definite causal link has not yet been proven between certain moulds and health problems.
People with particular sensitivity may be at greater risk, such as those suffering from asthma, whose immune systems have been compromised or those susceptible to allergenic reactions. We know for example, that Aspergillosis is dangerous to those with weak immunity, and therefore more care must be taken for managing hospital environments and the like.
The best sources of further information are the US Environmental Protection Agency who provide a ‘Brief guide to mould, moisture and your home’ and other information relating to school buildings, for example.