March Advice Column 2018
I live in a privately rented two-bedroom house and the damp in the living room is aggravating my three-year-old daughter's asthma. I’ve told my landlord but she’s not taking action. What can I do?
Resolving damp issues can be difficult - especially as the cause of the problem is not always obvious. Also, by raising any disrepair complaint to a private landlord it’s important to realise that there is a risk of retaliatory eviction.
First, make sure you’re not doing anything that could be contributing to the damp, such as drying clothes indoors or blocking vents. Once that’s done, you have two potential routes available.
The first is to report the problem to the Environmental Health department at your local authority. This route is best if you’re unsure what’s causing the damp, but it’s also an option if you think your landlord is responsible.
Tell your council the damp is causing your daughter’s asthma to worsen and provide evidence, including letters from your GP, photos of the damp, and a copy of your tenancy agreement.
The local authority can issue an awareness notice, which tells your landlord there’s a hazard in the home and what she needs to do to fix it, although it does not require her to take action. The authority can also serve the more serious improvement notice, which requires your landlord to carry out the work and also offers you some protection from retaliatory eviction.
Alternatively, you could take her to court. Your landlord may be held responsible for repairing the damp but this will depend on the cause - such as a broken heater or window - and the terms of your tenancy agreement.
If she is responsible, the court can grant an injunction and possibly award compensation. Seek advice from us before going down this route because the legal process can be complex. You may also be entitled to legal aid.