Mould and damp is usually considered a problem dealt with by lettings agents and leaseholders rather than block managers, but it can quickly become a major issue for block managers without the right attention.
Not only can mould and damp cause damage to the building and its contents, but it can also have a negative impact on the health of residents and tenants. As a block manager, it is important to take steps to prevent and address these problems in your building.
We spoke to Nigel Glen, Executive Chair of The Property Institute, for his thoughts on this often-forgotten menace.
Mould and damp in blocks
“Even after all the attention issues of mould and damp received late last year in the lettings sector, there’s little thought being paid to it in block,” Nigel told us.
“Mould and damp just aren’t thought of as the block manager’s problem,” he said.
While it’s true that mould within individual flats within a block are not the responsibility of the block manager and landlord, they can quickly become a building-wide issue if it spreads too far, especially into common areas.
Hallways and foyers can quickly become prime locations for mould. Fungus grows in areas of high humidity and poor ventilation, which windowless hallways often are. Common sources of moisture in the air include leaks, condensation, and poor insulation.
To prevent mould and damp from occurring in the first place, block managers should take steps to improve the ventilation, insulation, and overall air quality of common areas. This can include installing extractor fans, or dehumidifiers in areas where this is not feasible. Block managers should also be vigilant when checking for leaks, and take steps to repair them as soon as they are discovered.
Addressing mould and damp
If mould or damp is already present in the building outside of individual residents’ property, it is important to address it as quickly as possible.
“Taking steps to remove mould from common areas quickly won’t just protect your building’s residents from health hazards, it'll also drum up their good will to see you taking swift action.”
This can include removing any visible mould, cleaning and disinfecting affected areas, and repainting common areas with anti-mould paint. In some cases, it may be necessary to hire a professional to assess the extent of the problem and develop a plan for addressing it.
Stemming mould in common areas can also prevent issues from spreading between units and penetrating deeper into the structure of the building.
Communicating with residents
“Communicating with your building residents and keeping track of which units are experiencing problems with mould is key,” Nigel told us. “In individual units, it isn’t your concern, but patterns can indicate wider issues with your building.”
For example, if several residents on the same floor are experiencing mould issues from penetrating damp on the surface of internal walls, it could be evidence of an unnoticed problem with the building itself. This could include leaking pipes, overflowing gutters or faulty appliance fixtures such as washing machines inlets dripping into inter-flat spaces.
Providing residents with information on how to spot different signs of penetrating damp and rising damp, and when they should notify you, opens up a vital channel of communication you need to protect your building.
👉 You can also give residents information on how to prevent and remove mould within their own units, as a way to reduce the likelihood of mould spreading through the building. Download our Tenant's Guide to Damp and Mould here.
It is important to take steps to prevent and address mould and damp in your building, even if it's not normally considered your remit as block manager. By taking a proactive approach, you can help to make your buildings safe and healthy places for residents.