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Thursday, January 17, 2013

Protect your Property Investment and Keep your Tenants Happy

News media constantly reports on stories of damp housing and the inevitable conflicts between tenants and landlords over the quality of the rental houses, so how can you ensure you stay out of the headlines?

By law, as well as making sure the property is fit for habitation, landlords are generally responsible for carrying out all repairs to the structure and exterior of the property. Therefore not responding to issues of damp in your property will not only lead to a deterioration of your housing stock, but may lead to complaints from tenants, many of which won’t understand the relationship between their lifestyle and the damp in the property. This can lead to arguments between tenants and landlords, a great deal of stress and can also potentially lead to you, as the landlord, being prosecuted.

Condensation is one of the three forms of damp and is caused by a combination of two main factors. The first is the amount of moisture we produce, and the second is the surface temperature where the condensation occurs. We produce huge amounts of moisture everyday, through bathing, washing, showering, cooking, drying washing and even breathing. During the winter months this moisture-filled air stays trapped indoors as tenants open windows less frequently to keep the cold drafts out. The resulting build up of moisture in the homes leads to damp and mould growth. First you see condensation on windows and cold surfaces, and then mould growth occurs where there is a cooler surface temperature, such as on north facing sides of houses and on poorly insulated walls or ceilings.

Mould will form where there is high moisture content, usually as a result of damp, and the result is both an unsightly and unhealthy house. However, there are many less well-known consequences of condensation and high humidity, including higher heating bills, health issues and also a deterioration of the building. All of these can result in a property that is unsuitable to live in or even unfit for habitation, resulting in conflicts between tenants and landlords, as well as depletion in the value of your property.

So, how can you protect your property investment and avoid condensation? The only way to avoid condensation and prevent mould appearing on cold spots and north facing exterior walls is to remove it from the air or increase the surface temperatures. As a landlord this is achievable by;
  • Improving the quality of cavity wall insulation in the house so that the walls have a higher surface temperature, reducing condensation and mould growth. 
  • Providing mechanical ventilation throughout the house, especially in bathrooms and kitchens. 
  • Educating the tenant about the sources of moisture and the consequences of it to help them visualise a solution 
  • Providing the tenant with a dehumidifier and educating them on its use. 

A dehumidifier is used not only for removing moisture in the air, but also can dry clothes, help houses feel warmer, minimise health issues and reduce heating bills. The reduction in heating bills may not immediately seem like a benefit to landlords however, with the rising cost of gas and electricity it’s likely to become a deciding factor on whether a tenant can afford to live in a property. By providing a solution that creates a healthier atmosphere within the home, minimising any health implications to the tenant, this is likely to remove a great deal of stress from any tenant/landlord conflict regarding issues of damp and health.

If you have not provided your tenant with a tumble dryer then a dehumidifier is a great alternative as it dries washing and will keep the entire home dry at the same time.

By investing in a £149.99 Meaco dehumidifier you can significantly improve the quality of your property, leading to happier tenants and a better reputation as a landlord. The cost of a Meaco dehumidifier is extremely small in comparison to the thousands of pounds worth of damage that damp can cause, plus the potential for lost rental earnings. A dehumidifier is not only a tool to remove water from the air, but will also build a positive business relationship between any tenant and landlord and avoid the stress and headaches that arise as a result of any conflict regarding damp properties.

For more information about the range of Meaco products visit the website or call the team on 01483 234900, who can give expert advice on dealing with damp and humidity related problems.

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