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Alexj

Fair Wear And Tear

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Is "fair wear and tear" a subjective thing or is it defined somewhere?

I've been renting for 2 years and the house has had quite a lot fo damp, especially around the metal-framed windows. Now I'm moving out and a pair or the landlords curtains has a lot of damp on it. Several of my possessions have been damaged by the damp too over the last two years and I've complained to the landlord, asking him to do something about it several times, but he's just ignored me (or sympathised and then ignored!).

I think I've done everything I reasonably could to protect the landlord's curtains and my possessions i.e. mop up the water on the window sills each day, scrub off the mould when it appeared on the walls and windows and air the rooms as much as possible without making the house an icebox in the winter.

I showed the damp to the landlord and he shrugged and sympathised. Then I told him they are his wife's curtains and he seemed less at ease when he realised that its his stuff that is damaged this time.

Today, he asked me to pay for the curtains to be professionally cleaned. I am refusing on the basis that its fair wear and tear given the conditions in the house which the landlord has failed to address.

Am I right (legally) or will the landlord probably win if we end up taking this to a deposit tribunal? Does anyone know how fair wear and tear is decided upon?

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sorry that should have read the curtains are mouldy because of the damp in the room

This wouldn't be considered 'fair wear and tear' but the damage would not be considered to be your fault. It is the result of a damp condition that was the landlord's responsibility to rectify. You made him aware of the problem on numerous occasions (hopefully in written form at least once) and he chose to do nothing.

It will be a pain, but you have nothing to worry about.

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I've got an email from a few months ago which I can prove the LL received because he replied. In the email I describe how the damp and mould are getting worse throughout the house and how I have tried to deal with it but steam cleaning did not work on the curtains. I reference various conversations the LL and I had before about the damp. I also mention that the managing agents took photos of the damp on their inspection.

The LL doesn't explicitly say anything in his reply. He just gave a bland "I will call you" statement but it does show that he was aware of the issue months ago at least and he hasn't done anything about it.

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I've got an email from a few months ago which I can prove the LL received because he replied. In the email I describe how the damp and mould are getting worse throughout the house and how I have tried to deal with it but steam cleaning did not work on the curtains. I reference various conversations the LL and I had before about the damp. I also mention that the managing agents took photos of the damp on their inspection.

The LL doesn't explicitly say anything in his reply. He just gave a bland "I will call you" statement but it does show that he was aware of the issue months ago at least and he hasn't done anything about it.

IANAL

Its the LL problem not yours, if he tries to make a claim for the damage you have all the evidence you need in the email sent (for business email is considered, I believe, by the courts as a durable medium), it doesn't need to be recieved so long as it is reasonable for you to believe that he is using the account in order to go about his business as a LL (if otherwise would beg the question why he would give you that address). So he was made aware of the problems and did nothing to rectify the situation and this has resulted in his capital loss.

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If it is damp - it is the landlords problem. However, a problem in the window area suggests condensation to me. Condensation is caused by the tenant - it is their moisture in the air from breathing, cooking washing, bathing that is not escaping from the building and so condensing on surfaces. It is not only a matter of ventilation - it is heating too because the moisture will not stay in the air to escape through the ventilation if it is cold - it will condense.

This leaflet may be useful.... http://www.ceredigion.gov.uk/utilities/action/act_download.cfm?mediaid=5420

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two rooms are affected .. the master bedroom (which could be condensation - but would that account for the black mould that was one walls too?) and the dining room which we spent less than 12 hours in over two years (and at a few of those hours was just a minute a day of me coming in to open the windows and mop up the windowsill).

Would the LL still have a case to argue condensation in those circumstances?

The house has 2 different types of window frames: wood and metal. The wood ones are fine but there is mould around every one of the metal window frames. I've tried to wipe it off and I've used bleach to try to kill the mould but it keeps coming back. Anyone can see I've used bleach though because it has turned the white paint work pink where it has touched it.

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two rooms are affected .. the master bedroom (which could be condensation - but would that account for the black mould that was one walls too?) and the dining room which we spent less than 12 hours in over two years (and at a few of those hours was just a minute a day of me coming in to open the windows and mop up the windowsill).

Would the LL still have a case to argue condensation in those circumstances?

The house has 2 different types of window frames: wood and metal. The wood ones are fine but there is mould around every one of the metal window frames. I've tried to wipe it off and I've used bleach to try to kill the mould but it keeps coming back. Anyone can see I've used bleach though because it has turned the white paint work pink where it has touched it.

It's not really a case of arguing condensation - the definition isn't in the cause/fault, they are totally different things.

Black mould almost certainly is condensation - the salts in mortar kill the spores that cause the back mould, so any penetrating damp does not cause black mould. Usually, damp is indicated by a white 'ring' around the outer edge of the effected ares as those same salts are forced to the surface.

The fact that you do not use the room does not mean there will be no condensation - unless the room is airtight, the moist air will seek out places to condense.

Of course, the source of the moisture that is causing the condensation could be damp elsewhere in the building - this is not the majority cause of condensation, but it is a possibility. It is also possible that it is caused by a water leak (landlords problem) or a high water table (not landlords problem).

Damp is caused by a structural defect. Are there any defects with the building? Faulty damp course, cracks in the mortar/render? Leaky guttering? A key question here is if there are such defects causing damp, did you notify the landlord? The landlord is not responsible for such defects until he is (properly) notified. Failing to notify the landlord will put the onus on the tenant as the tenant has a responsibility to act in a 'tennt like manner' as specified by Lord Justice Denning in 1953 - it is also probably a term in your tenancy agreement.

Have a read at the link in the previous post - it will answer many questions about condensation and give you tips about how to prevent this being an issue in future.

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But I am in my 40s and I have lived in/ owned several properties. This is the first time I have had to deal with mould like this. if I am doing nothing different and I've never had mould/ mildew problems like this before then how can it be down to how I look after the property?

A few minutes ago I took down some curtains in another room to wash and found the exact same problem. It seems to be endemic throughout the older part of the house.

There is some damp problems in the house and yes, i made the landlord aware of them. Its in various places, all the older part of the house. It ruined two coats last year, a brand new mattress and it and was growing behind my bed. The landlord advised that all furniture should be kept in the centre of the room, away from the walls when i pointed it out to him.

I am beginning to think that there are mould spores throughout the older part of the house and they were just covered up before I moved in, but have gradually started growing and spreading. I will ask the previous tenants if they also had problems.

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But I am in my 40s and I have lived in/ owned several properties. This is the first time I have had to deal with mould like this. if I am doing nothing different and I've never had mould/ mildew problems like this before then how can it be down to how I look after the property?

I have no idea if it is your fault - I am giving you facts that you can easily verify elsewhere on the internet. Find out where the moisture is coming from then make your own decisions. Unless you know the source of the moisture, then you are not in a position to decide if the landlord is at fault. Landlord has an obligation to resolve structural defects (damp in bedroom) under section 11 of the 1985 Landlord and Tenant Act - but you don't seem to have been very proactive about getting it sorted.

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"Not proactive"...

I cleaned up the mould as I saw it occur and moved things out of the way (the house is unfurnished apart from carpets and curtains so it was my stuff i was protecting)

I heated the property every day (I am a housewife so its occupied during the day and I don't like to be cold!)

I aired the house daily

I mopped up the condensation daily

I told the landlord every time I saw him

I emailed him about it

I told the managing agent every time they came round for an inspection

What I didn't do..

hire a professional company to assess the cause and estimate the repair

attempt DIY repairs

So if that's not proactive, then I guess that I am not.

However, out of interest what would you do if you were a tenant in these circumstances?

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hire a professional company to assess the cause and estimate the repair

attempt DIY repairs

So if that's not proactive, then I guess that I am not.

However, out of interest what would you do if you were a tenant in these circumstances?

Hold your horses Mrs.

I am not talking about clearing up mould or bleaching your windowsills - these may clear the symptoms for a while, but do not cure the cause. What you did when the landlord and agent proved to be totally ineffectual at solving your bedroom damp problem was to roll over and accept the situation.

There are organisations that could have helped you get this fixed, not least forums like this. Failing that, Citizens Advice, Shelter, your local councils housing department. All their replies would have probably led you to the Environmental Health Officer at your local council who would have assessed the situation, and if it was the landlords responsibility ultimately had the power to employ workmen to fix the problem and then bill the landlord.

A nice, damp free home (as is your right), all for the cost of a couple of phone calls.

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Ok. sorry.

What I am thinking is what will the landlord say? He is famous for his dislike of spending his own money whilst being very fond of spending other people's. I am 99% sure that he's going to try to say that I am at fault and I am trying to work out how to deal with it when the times comes -approx 10 days from now!

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