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Bathroom Mould

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Hoping to get some advice here.

We have rented the same house for about six years.

It has possibly the world's smallest bathroom. Think of two baths in an L shape and draw a line to finish the triangle. It's that shape and size. Though there is only one bath.

It hasn't been decorated while we have been here. It looked fine to start with. Part tiled, part painted.

It has no ventilation (e.g. trickle vent), no extractor fan, and a heated towel rail.

About three years ago the first signs of mould began to show. I've been wiping this off, but I think it's now intrinsic to the paintwork and comes back very quickly.

Our rent comes up for review every two years. Two years ago they asked for about 8% and we settled on 2%, mentioning this and a number of other décor aspects.

We're now being asked to pay that same increase, and despite pointing out the mould in-person when the letting agent came round, no action has been taken.

The letting agent has followed up the rent increase letter with an email mentioning that they will "try" to do something about the bathroom in the next year's budget. She is keenly aware of this as a sticking point. Not least because I emailed her a month prior, anticipating this, with a stack of photos.

I reverted to the email asking when the bathroom would be finished - to include replacement of bath (enamel worn and missing, plug area rusting), stripping and painting, re-grouting etc.

The answer was the same - "we will try to get to it this year".

I don't think this is acceptable. What this basically says is "the fact it has a mould infestation isn't a compelling reason for us to escalate this, or even guarantee it will be resolved in the next 12 months".

My response is going to be "Before we get anywhere near discussing a rent increase, I want to know - at the very least - when the mould will be sorted".

Now what concerns me is the extent of blame. Who is responsible for the mould. It wasn't there when we moved in.

But then I don't think that the bathroom has received any décor work in at least a decade. Certainly nothing in the six years we've been here. It is basically knackered.

I can remove the mould with bleach, but this will then strip off what paint remains placing the plaster underneath at risk and encouraging more growth.

I think it needs stripping down, mould treating, priming and repainting.

The landlord has spent a small fortune on the property next door resolving an age-old damp issue putting in a draining channel. It has had months of work.

The windows have been repainted, but that's the second time in two years. Last time it was left to get so bad the wood rotted away and there wasn't sufficient budget to do it properly. It appears to be the case that if the property is in some sort of serious structural or other distress then stuff happens, but otherwise, not much gets done.

This is a high end estate agency not some "slumlord" where I'd expect this.

What would you do in this position?

mould-1.jpg

mould-2.jpg

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Depends how much of a fight you want to get into on this. You could say - no rent increase before you fix the mould and risk getting turfed out.

The bathroom's lack of ventilation and the damp cold conditions is the likely the main problem - and that's not going away regardless of who is the tenant. It will likely only remain mould free in the present state if no-one uses the bathroom.

That said, there are things you or the landlord can do to improve things.

A wipe over with undiluted bleach will slow most mould growth as well as temporarily remove most signs. For troublesome spots e.g. sealant/grout - soak some bog roll in neat bleach and then form it over the top of the area and push so it stays. Leave for 24 hours.

Wiping down the walls to remove excess water/condensation after every shower/bath will also help.

Venting the bathroom to the rest of the house after it gets steamy (with the other windows open) might also help or it may transfer the problem somewhere else.

Cleaning the extractor or replacing with a better one might help.

You can also consider pots of slica gel (in my opinion only minimally effective).

A wipe down then coating of Bathroom/Kitchen Dulux anti-mould paint would likely eliminate it. It has in our kitchen. A can costs around £20.

Edited by StainlessSteelCat

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Thanks. I think what annoys me the most is that if we left over this, I don't think that the letting agent would even dare have the audacity to show the property let alone let it (health risks?) to any prospective tenants before the work is done.

Ergo, as long as the current tenants remain, we can just fob them off and hope they don't call our bluff especially at this time of year.

Actually, we're planning on emigrating in May 2015 though they don't know that yet.

It has no extractor at all. Oddly, if you leave the bathroom door ajar, that sets off the smoke alarm in the hallway.

In the summer and at most times when having a bath or shower I leave the window open because of this. However at this time of the year, it remains closed, which is what makes it worse.

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Ah... you didn't mention a window. Open it as soon as you've finished your shower/bath - and keep the bathroom door closed. Leave it open for around 40 mins or so.

It'll help a bit to reduce condensation, and therefore mould growth. Price of living in an old house I'm afraid.

Yes, I have similar experiences with landlords. Basically being a sitting tenant is like being a long term worker in a company. You are taken for granted. My last landlord royally screwed us over on the deposit (despite leaving the house in a cleaner state than we got it, and being good tenants for five years). Given the minimal maintenance over those five years, the place basically needed gutting when we left it as there was terrible mould (impossible to open all but one window), most of the inbuilt appliances had stopped working and the only source of heating - a gas fire - had been condemned.

When it comes down to money - even tiny amounts of it - there is no honour among landlords.

If you are planning to leave in May - it may be worth staying rather than paying to move regardless of rent increase/mould. But you should definitely still negotiate.

Edited by StainlessSteelCat

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In the photo, hilariously, you can see that the window frame is freshly painted, right next to the mould ;)

We're not going to be doing any work on this ourselves.

My inclination is to leave the problem with the letting agent. If it isn't painted, by May 2015, it's going to look absolutely horrendous.

I was going to ask for the letting agent's sanction and go-ahead to bleach all the mould and at the same time, unavoidably, much of the paint, off the walls as our "proposed solution" in the meantime and see how they respond.

Without that sanction the health hazard remains and so then I'd be looking to get the work done professionally and deduct it from the rent. Can I do that?

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It looks a bit like the mould is underneath/within the paint - is it hard to remove?

Looks bad. We had a similar thing with some grout paint that went mouldy, the black mould was trapped inside as most emulsion paint is porous to some degree.

The only thing I found that would remove the mould and keep it at bay for a few months was 'Dettol Mould and Mildew remover'(bright green bottle) this stuff is hardcore and you need the windows open when spraying it and avoid breathing in the vapour or you'll have a bad headache. Works far better than bleach though.

Could the walls be damp for other reasons not just the condensation, i.e penetrating damp from outside or roof/gutters etc.? they may be more willing to correct it if there's damp that could damage the building. They would have to strip off the mould/paint properly down to a good surface and dry the room out before repainting with a more suitable paint, otherwise the mould would re-appear underneath and on top of the new stuff. Hope you get it sorted.

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It's not hard to remove the surface layer, but it never goes completely. I think it is underneath the paint.

From what I can see - the paint has suffered from the mould cleaning - the topmost yellow layer of paint was a very thin layer simply painted over what was there before which is why it has come away so easily.

I've ordered a bottle of that - will give it a try.

It's not impossible that the damp is (also?) coming through from the outside given that particular part of the house never sees any sunlight because of the way it faces. I'll go and have a look at the outside of the building, must admit I've never looked.

The vision that I have, is that we leave in May 2015, the room is infested so badly that the door needs taping shut, and we then have an argument about our (significant) deposit.

I think the present condition means that it's basically impossible to "just keep it clean" and it is endemic e.g. any "battle" to control it will always be lost and will result in further stripping of and damage to the paintwork.

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Now would also be the time to confirm your deposit is in a deposit scheme and that the LA didn't "forget" about it. The new rules came in during 2008, but in my experience landlords and agencies were still feigning ignorance as late as 2012.

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It won't help your basic problem of a useless LA, but there is a bathroom mould spray that actually works - HG Bathroom Mould spray - I think we got ours in Homebase. you just spray on and it wipes off.

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If you want an industrial strength mould treatment I suggest getting outdoor patio mould remover. It comes in 5 litre cans and is 20 times as strong as Dettol. However, you will need protection when putting it on.

The smoke alarm going off is the most worrying aspect. These work by smoke particles blocking the radiation from a radio-active source. Normally the radiation ionises the air between two plates of a capacitor stopping it charging up and triggering the alarm.

Since there is no smoke, this must be fungal spores in the air having the same affect!

I would seriously suggest getting the house declared unfit for human habitation. Breathing in the spores at this level of concentration will make you ill.

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Personally I would not pay the last month's rent so then there's not so much dispute over return of deposit.

My son rented a place a few years back and even though he took the case to the small claims court and was awarded a return of his deposit, he never got it back. Chasing for the payment would have involved more time and expense. The small claims court was next to useless in this instance and involved a lot of time, effort, hassle and stress for no result. This was before deposit protection came into effect but I doubt things would be much different now. The amount involved was over £1K between 4 people so a large amount. The letting agents completely washed their hands over it (maybe they were in on it too?) and even though my son and one of his flatmates "camped" in their offices they just fobbed them off until they gave up

I agree with the previous post it might be worth getting Environmental Health round to see what they make of it.

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Now would also be the time to confirm your deposit is in a deposit scheme and that the LA didn't "forget" about it. The new rules came in during 2008, but in my experience landlords and agencies were still feigning ignorance as late as 2012.

It is in the deposit scheme. The letting agents are very professional generally. However I think that the rather overdue work next door has eaten up all of the budget.

But then there is a pattern of leaving things until they get so bad that they cost more to rectify in the end than they would have done had action been more timely. The windows are a good example; one of them won't shut now, so we'll have to get them back to sort that out. It's upstairs, and I'm damned if I'm climbing up on a ladder to give it a shove from outside.

I shall revert and without mentioning the rent increase (I'll just ignore that), request the proposed solution to the mould. They already have photos of it, but I shall send some more. I'm not going to wipe any of it off for now.

That the mould has been there for a long time growing worse is reasonably well documented, I have one eye on that with regard to the deposit.

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I'm a landlord, if there were one of my properties I would get someone in to kill the mould and redecorate. It is not acceptable. I would also fit an extractor or trickle vent to the window.

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What does your letting agreement say about the landlord's responsibilities? It might be argued that keeping it clean and tidy is supposedly yours. I have rented places before where it was my responsibility to mastic around the bath. Supposedly this was because if it were the landlord's I'd have to let him in to inspect and do it.

If the room is inadequately ventilated, mould buildup like this is inevitable.Opening the window isn't going to do a lot because there is no circulation out of the window.

The only real solution to this is to have an extractor fitted that is operated by the light switch and that runs for 20 or 30 mins after the light is switched off. I have had mould problems in a previous windowless bathroom that were only sorted by fitting the most powerful extractor fan I could find that fitted the space. I presume as there's a window that your bathroom has an outside wall?

If so I would get an electrician in to fit one to make the problem go away, and then deduct whatever he charges from the rent presenting the receipt in evidence. Make a note or better yet film on your phone the smoke alarm thing.

As has been noted, if you do nothing and let the mould pile up your risk the charge that you didn't give him the opportunity to do more about it and therefore it's partly your fault that it got as bad as it did.

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My stance is that this is the landlord's problem.

I've made them aware of it, to the point where they offer the possibility of renovation and redecoration as a "maybe" to get the rent increase. They're keenly aware of the situation and have a stack of photos of it.

That is however insufficient to prompt action. So I'll send this week's stack of mould photos asking how they would like to resolve it, to give them every opportunity, and offering to bleach it all off for them at the risk of making the plaster vulnerable and asking if they would like to take this option or else advise another.

I'll give them until, say, mid January to have it all resolved, or we will have to consider what action we might like to take, without specifying precisely what that might be (environmental health, DIY and bill them, professional and pass on the invoices etc.) purely in respect of the mould issue, not the rusting bath or other issues.

Everything is documented. I have copies.

In the meantime I'm just going to ignore the letter about the rental increase and leave them to infer why that might be.

I'm reassured by the comments that this is inevitable in a bathroom not much bigger than a phone booth with no ventilation and a heated towel rail: in addition to the fact it hasn't been decorated for at least 6 if not perhaps 10 years, the condition is probably how you'd expect it to be.

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You seem to be mentally conditioned to the idea that a rent increase is appropriate, if only the place was tarted up a bit. We live in a low inflation environment, with no justification for a price hike.

Just move. They probably won't get the same price without making it decent and you might get better digs for less moolah.

.

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Ive no idea why a rent increase is on the cards at all, just refuse it. If you're going in 4-5 months anyway, it will take them 2-3 to get you out of there and you can string them along for the other month or 2.

Its not as though they can get another tenant in quickly with the place in that state anyway.

I would refuse an increase because of the refusal to do routine maintenance and give it a cheap and quick once over myself so its bearable for the remaining few months, and fight them wrt deposit return via the deposit scheme using these photos.

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Its not as though they can get another tenant in quickly with the place in that state anyway.

I would refuse an increase because of the refusal to do routine maintenance and give it a cheap and quick once over myself so its bearable for the remaining few months, and fight them wrt deposit return via the deposit scheme using these photos.

This.

Check what your agreement says about landlord's responsibilities but this totally looks like his job to me. If it were me I would send him estimates for the work of an extraction and redecoration and say you're going to proceed deduct the cost plus 5% management fee from the next month's rent. As has been noted, all he can do is give you notice which he won't because he'll then have to spend the money anyway.

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Got a 1950s double brick skin (with cavatity insulation) detached bungalow. Aware that this is the worst possible type of property to keep mould free... brick doesn't breath like modern blocks. But though the bathroom faces north absolutely no mould........always keep the window open when in the house, always mop up excess moisture off tiles and bath following shower.

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We have had the same problem with mould. the root cause of the problem in our case is that the bathroom was insufficiently ventilated. I suspect you have the same issue - this must be your landlords issue to resolve by sorting our the ventilation.

As another poster mentioned this black mould can be bad for your health. A couple of winters ago both my wife and daughter suffered from bad chest infections more than once. Since we got the ventilation in the bathroom fixed these have not recurred.

One other thing that worked for us was putting varnished wood over the areas that were the most susceptible to the mould - looks a bit retro but does the trick.

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Actually, we're planning on emigrating in May 2015 though they don't know that yet.

"We will really struggle to pay this increase right now, but I'm expecting a pay increase next May so could we put back the 8% increase until then"

Then when you hand in your notice you can say, "yeah the extra 8% was just too much so we found somewhere else"

Don't tell the agent you are emigrating unless you want to kiss the deposit goodbye.

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It won't help your basic problem of a useless LA, but there is a bathroom mould spray that actually works - HG Bathroom Mould spray - I think we got ours in Homebase. you just spray on and it wipes off.

Got some of this to tackle some mould on the bathroom ceiling after your recommendation. It is wonder stuff. Smells like toxic waste, but it got rid of it all in half an hour.

Edited by StainlessSteelCat

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