Student housing is not renowned for being the most perfect accommodation in the world and often comes with more rustic features such as squeaky floorboards, a dodgy tap or maybe issues with damp. This is partly because the landlord doesn’t want to invest hundreds, sometimes thousands in perfecting a home which could be trashed by the stereotypical student and also because if these changes are made, the rent would no longer be student-friendly. It’s not uncommon for property owners to coat the home in a fresh lick of paint after their previous tenants leave. This not only makes the home seem more clean and appealing, but it also means that it will temporarily cover any issues with damp.

Often a property is or appears to be damp free when you move in, the bathroom looks absolutely fine and paintwork elsewhere is pristine however, live in there a couple of months and those dreaded black spots will begin to appear around the window sills and on the walls. So, is this your problem, or the landlord’s and how much work do you need to put in to remove the mould to get your deposit back?

What is mould? Mould is a living organism that thrives in moist conditions, not only is it unsightly but it can also cause a myriad of health issues.

How and why does it grow? Mould is often a result of condensation forming on cold spots on walls. The moisture produced by us living our everyday life, poor ventilation and cooler temperatures are perfect breeding grounds for mould and unfortunately, these are often abundant in a student home: Moisture produced – Four adults simply being active in the home for one day will produce six pints of water, cooking and boiling a kettle will produce six pints and having a bath or shower, two pints. So simply by doing every day activities tenants are breathing moisture into the air and potentially contributing to damp forming. Students are notorious for procrastinating indoors and spending unnecessary amounts of time making cups of tea while pretending to crack on with their coursework.

In a normal home, its occupants would be out for most of the day, producing moisture at work, not in the home. Poor ventilation and cool temperatures – students often live in old homes that do not meet modern standards. Their homes are not best known for the insulation and energy efficiency, meaning that they are more difficult to keep warm and therefore more susceptible to mould. This combined with the increasing energy prices and living costs means that the likelihood of students being able to afford to sufficiently warm their home to stave off mould is even more difficult. If there is mould in your student property it could be a result of poor insulation or ventilation which could be a fault of the property. Thermal imaging cameras are a great way of identifying cold spots in homes to find where condensation settles and mould could grow. Cold spots are naturally found around windows, but if any are located in random spots in walls or ceilings, this is likely a fault of the landlord. If you’re noticing mould starting to form here are some ways to prevent it and help retain your deposit:

Stop moisture building up – try to wipe surfaces where moisture settles, make sure pans are covered when cooking, dry clothes outside where possible and try to open external windows to prevent moisture from settling in high humidity rooms like bathrooms and kitchens.

Ventilation and airing the home – When cooking and washing open windows and use extractors, if you have to dry clothes inside, do so in a small room with the window open. Open all the windows for a time each day to allow air to circulate and avoid overfilling wardrobes and cupboards, and make sure there is space between furniture and walls.

Keep your home warm – this is the trickiest one as it costs money. Your heating will not need to be on all the time, a few hours each day in the colder months should be fine … you just don’t want to see your own breath!

If mould is forming when you’re carrying out all of these measures, then it is likely not your fault and is an issue for the landlord to fix. In the meantime, if you can try and clean off any mould build up with some bleach mix, or fungicide, this will be better for your health and help to stop it from spreading.

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