My wife and I moved into a flat at the end of last summer on a year’s lease with a 6-month break clause. The flat seemed great and we paid our deposit and 6 weeks rent. On the day we moved in, the landlord greeted us and informed for the first time that there had been a damp problem and supplied us with a dehumidifier ensuring us that if we used this, we would easily keep the mould at bay.
Enter winter. We started using the dehumidifier for a few hours daily, but found that the mould was increasingly bad. We both developed chesty colds and were regularly sleeping in a damp bed – regardless of our efforts. We also cleaned the walls every other week with specialist mould and mildew cleaner.
This extra maintenance which we paid for in electricity, cleaning products, our health and our own time came to a head when we went away over Christmas for around three weeks. On our return, we found our wardbrobe to be inundated with black mould. We had to take all of our clothes out of the wardrobe, dry clean suits and wash bags and other clothes in vinegar. We also had to throw away leather shoes and trainers.
At this stage, we had come to the end of our tether and contacted the letting agents to activate our 6-month break clause. We informed them that the damp problem was unmanagable and that we wanted to move out as soon as possible. The letting agents told us we had to stay in this unhealthy environment for 2 additional months and did nothing about the mould over those two months.
Fast forward two months, we had the flat cleaned professionally and left the property. It came time to return our deposit and the landlord has tried to take an additional £200 off our deposit, stating that we didn’t clean the flat properly and that they needed to subsequently clean the flat themselves. We have stated that we are unhappy to have to pay anything in light of the amount of money and time we have spent to keep the flat habitable. Because we are disputing the extra money, they are now threatening to add on other charges which they say they have removed in good will.
I want to know what our rights are in regards to the issues we are having and also if we can report the property to a health authority? We feel an obligation to warn any tenants who move there that it is an unhealthy environment and that the landlord is difficult when it comes to returning a deposit. Also, is there a law about disclosing known damp problems in a rental property before signing a lease?
Thank you in advance for reading this post and I really appreciate any advice anyone can offer.
All the best,