Preventing Condensation and Damp in Rented Property


One of the biggest sources of lost deposits for tenants in the private rented sector is rot and mould which is caused by damp, which is in turn caused by condensation. Rot and mould can be very expensive.

We think it is so important to get this right (and prevent it) that we actually include a guide to preventing rot and mould in our tenancy agreements.

We also do a property inspection three months into a new tenancy and then every year around October.

This inspection is set to look mainly at external aspects of the property – to identify any works that might need doing ahead of the winter, but we also look around internally too. Sometimes mould may be being caused by water ingress from a roof and gutter – and of course we pay for fixing that and the cost of any re-decorating that may be needed too.

The internal viewing part of the inspection can pick up any evidence of over-occupation – more people living in the property than were agreed in the tenancy agreement. But we also look to see if there is any evidence of failing to ventilate and keep the property warm, which is leading to condensation and mould. It is important to nip this in the bud and where it is being caused by lifestyle of the tenants, we re-iterate the advice in our tenancy agreement and send them a note in writing, evidencing that we made it clear to them and that failure to control condensation and damp which leads to damage to the property, will be a cost they will have to pay.

Before we let any property, we will generally apply a coat of anti-mould paint to any north facing or sun-lacking walls internally.

Here is the guide we give tenants which is included in our tenancy agreement.


As landlords, we expect you to act sensibly to ensure that condensation which causes mould and rot does not occur in the first place. Please read the following notes carefully (these have been prepared by experts in the field of mould prevention).

If you need any more advice, please ask us.

First steps against condensation

You will need to take proper steps to deal with the condensation, but meanwhile there are some measures you can take right away.

Wipe down windows and sills every morning if they show condensation. Wring out the cloth and drain it away into a sink. DO NOT leave it to dry on a radiator as doing this will have failed to remove the water from the room.

After having a shower, take time to wipe down walls around the shower, the tiles and any glass screens. This keeps them free from mould and also ensure any excess water goes down the drain and out of the room. A simple squeegee blade is a very good device to wipe down with.

Is it condensation?

Condensation is not the only cause of damp. It can also come from:

  • Leaking pipes, wastes or overflows.
  • Rain seeping through the roof where a tile or slate is missing, spilling from a blocked gutter, penetrating around window frames, or leaking through a cracked pipe.
  • Rising damp due to a defective damp-course or because there is no damp-course.

These causes of damp often leave a ‘tidemark’ and we will have the necessary repairs carried out to remove the source of damp. If you see anything that looks to be leaking, let us know immediately. As tenants, you have a responsibility to NOT ignore the problem. Tell us if you are concerned.

What is condensation?

There is always some moisture in the air, even if you cannot see it. If the air gets colder, it cannot hold all the moisture and tiny drops of water appear. This is condensation. You may notice it when you see your breath on a cold day, or when the mirror mists over when you have a bath.

Condensation occurs mainly during cold weather, whether it is raining or dry. It does not leave a ‘tidemark’. Apart from on cold places like windows, it often appears in places where there is little movement of air. Look for it in corners of rooms, on or near windows, in or behind wardrobes and cupboards. It often forms more readily on north-facing walls.

How to avoid condensation

These four steps will help you reduce the condensation in your home.

1. Produce less moisture

Some ordinary daily activities produce a lot of moisture very quickly.

Cooking: To reduce the amount of moisture, cover pans and do not leave kettles boiling.

Washing clothes: Put washing outdoors to dry if you can and whenever you can. Or put it in the bathroom with the door closed and the window open. If you have a tumble dryer make sure you vent it to the outside (unless it is the self-condensing type).

2. Ventilate to remove the moisture

You can ventilate your home without making draughts.

Some ventilation is needed to get rid of moisture being produced all the time, including that from people’s breath. Keep a small window ajar from time to time or a trickle ventilator open whenever possible, and especially when someone is in the room.

You need much more ventilation in the kitchen and bathroom when cooking, washing up, bathing and drying clothes. This means opening the windows wider in these rooms for a short time.

Close the kitchen and bathroom doors when these rooms are in use even if your kitchen or bathroom has an extractor fan, but make sure there is some draft coming in from under the door to these rooms as this will make any extractor fans work better. If the door is fully sealed, then open the door a little way to allow some draft in.

Make sure any extractor fan is clear and not full of dust. If it does get dusty, lightly vacuum clean it. Ideally, the draft from an extractor fan should be able to hold up a bank note on its own.

Try to prevent too much moisture from bathrooms and kitchen reaching other rooms, especially bedrooms, which are often colder and more likely to get condensation showing up on their colder walls.

Allow space for the air to circulate in and around your furniture. Open doors to ventilate cupboards and wardrobes. Leave some space, (at least 4 inches/ 10mm), between the backs of wardrobes / sofas and the walls. Where possible, position wardrobes and furniture against internal walls, i.e. walls which have a room on both sides, rather than against outside walls.

Bear in mind that when you have a curtain or blind drawn, it makes the surface of the window cooler and increases condensation, especially with single glazed windows.

3. Insulate and draught proof

Draught proofing of windows and outside doors will help keep your home warm and you will have lower fuel bills as well. When the whole home is warmer, condensation is less likely.

When draught proofing:

  • Do not block permanent ventilators.
  • Do not completely block chimneys (leave a hole about two bricks in size and fit a louvered grille over it).
  • Do not draught proof rooms where there is a fuel burning heater (e.g. gas fire) or cooker.
  • Do not draught proof windows in the bathroom or kitchen.

4. Heat your home a little more

In cold weather, the best way to keep rooms warm enough to avoid condensation is to keep low background heating on all day, even when there is no one at home. This is very important in flats and bungalows and other dwellings where the bedrooms may not be above a warm living room. If you have central heating set it to provide some background warmth in all rooms including unused rooms.

Points to remember

Produce less moisture:

  • Cover pans
  • Dry clothes outdoors
  • Vent your tumble dryer to the outside

Ventilate to remove moisture:

  • Ventilate regularly, especially when someone is in
  • Increase ventilation of the kitchen and bathroom when in use and shut the door but make sure there is some draft coming in from under the door – to help extractor fans work better.
  • Ventilate cupboards, wardrobes and blocked chimneys

Insulate and draught proof:

  • draught proof windows and external doors

Heat your home a little more

  • if possible, keep low background heat on all day, with background ventilation
  • find out about benefits, rebates and help with fuel bills


Services for Private Landlords

We help landlords and property investors by showing them how to make money in the private rented sector using ways which are fair to tenants and which involve minimal risk. Our advice is completely independent.

Services to Businesses, Charities and the Public Sector

We advise a range of organisations too – public, charities and private – to help them develop and improve their services and products for private landlords. David Lawrenson, founder of LettingFocus, also writes for property portals, speaks at property events and is regularly quoted by the media.



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  • David – good advice – but PLEASE – can the rubbish about rising damp.. It doesn’t exist. RD is just a collective catch all description to cover all of the symptoms of condensation building within walls. English Heritage have recently confirmed that in all of their research, they have never once found RD – just condensation, or other easily fixed causes like leaks, drips etc. By mentioning it, you perpetuate the myth – a pity to spoil what is otherwise good advice… Gentle background heating and effective ventilation – removal of moisture at source – extract to external wall when cooking, humidity controlled extraction in bathrooms. Tell people that the average bathroom takes 7 hours to dry after a shower – the 15 minute timer on a c heap B&Q extractor does nothing. Be AWARE that a family produce over 2 gallons of water a day from cooking, breathing, bathing – and it has to go somewhere.. If you need to wipe windows with a squeegee, there is too much water in the air – more ventilation needed..

    • Good advice from Mr. Ward here.
      I met him once and he knows his stuff on this – and has been quite an activist against a lot of the nonsense from the Damp Proofing Industry.
      Take notes!

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