Serious damp problem

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    Serious damp problem

    We are the owners/landlord of a modern (10 year old) 1st floor, leasehold apartment in a block of 30. The property has always had damp problems which we have fought to have resolved initially with the builder and NHBC without success and subsequently the management company. I have posted on here about previous incidents.

    We have argued over ventilation, which is not the problem as it was happening when we ourselves stayed in the property and used the extractor fans. We have paid for on-going redecoration and repair and one occasion had bathrooms retiled through buildings’ insurance when, after months of arguing with the management company, a leak was discovered in a property above. However the problem only gets worse. The apartment has black mould and dilapidation throughout, not just in wet areas, even the ceramic tiling is lifting.

    We have a full management service with our letting agent who only “helps” by constantly sending out contractors and billing us for redecoration, the mould quickly reappearing. Our tenants are at the end of their tether and understandably intend to move out leaving our property uninhabitable. We are being passed from pillar to post by our management company after weeks of requesting a structural survey of the building.
    The property is the other side of the country so we haven’t seen the current state but photos show the seriousness. We are desperate to sort this out to get the property into good condition so we can sell for at least the original purchase price. Unfortunately our landlord insurance lapsed without us noticing some months ago.

    I think we will need to instruct a surveyor or take legal action ourselves but don’t know where to start and am concerned about the costs involved. We need urgent advice someone could direct us please.

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      I had problem with the council for 12 years they would come and decorate and leave this went on for a long time. If the building is not old I would imagine that the company who built the falts to sort it out. Anyway I would advise you to get a independent surveyor like I did. Because the surveyor that comes from the council advises on the their intrest.

      I was advised to get my own surveyor in which i did and cost me £690, and it worked finally they came and started striping down walls and windows. I would advise you to do the same thing if they find that there is a error with the building then you can persue the builders/agent with good evidence.


        The property is private not council. The builder went out of business several years ago but they always put the problem down to ventilation which it definitely is not.


          I've written to the adjoining apartments to ask if they have similar problems which will help prove an external cause of the damp.

          Is there any possibility of claiming back surveyors' costs from the management company/buildings insurance if they still don't find anything and we have to arrange our own survey?


            I think you need an experienced plumber to look inside your flat to locate the place of slow leakage or decide if the origin is from the flat above.

            The guy in the letting agent's office does not have the expertise to check black mold and trace slow leaks - which must be traced by an expereinced plumber.

            The usually places of leakage and often not noticed by the tenants are :

            1. leaks under the kitchen sink waste pipe and back of wash machine.
            2. leaks under the hot water tank due to failed soldering joint.
            3. deteriorated silicone sealant between side of bath or washbasin or showertray and plasterboard wall.
            4. deteriorate connecter between back of toilet bowl and waste pipe in wall.

            Does the flat below have the same problems as you have ?


              I would suggest that you contact the person who manages the building to investigate the leak, as long as you plumber has confirmed its not your pipes ( new builds often have pipes at high level) and if near a service void where mains or wastes run, checked the void ( hire a drain camera from a hire shop) for leaks.
              Based on the information posted, I offer my thoughts.Any action you then take is your liability. While commending individual effort, there is no substitute for a thorough review of documents and facts by paid for professional advisers.


                The management company's inspection found a small leak behind the dishwasher which has caused mould in the surrounding area. However the black mould all round the rest of the apartment is due to insufficient insulation and aluminium window frames and the pools of water that collect on the window sills. This was addressed with the NHBC in the past but they didn't want to know.

                Apparently building regulations are much higher than they were 10 years ago with regards to insulation. I can't imagine we'll be eligible to claim on the buildings insurance for any of the repairs and will probably also have to move the tenants out to while it's refurbished. What a nightmare!


                  Although i agree that building regs were not as robust 10 years ago as today, i know of flats built in the 1970'S (ie even worse building regs) with zero damp.... so could it be that simple. I think asking as many flats around yours if they have a similar problem is a good idea, they all can't have leaks (if they are suffering), which would indicate a problem with the whole block and the design, clearly a bigger problem given the builder has now gone bump.


                    Does your building have double brick and cavity walls ?

                    I would not expect pools of water on the window sills if you have double glazing provided the vacuum seal is not damaged .


                      Yes it's double skin/cavity walls. Other apartments do have similar problems and according to our letting agent many other blocks do too.
                      We complained many times to the builder before they went bust, to no avail, also to NHBC. I must contact them to remind me of the outcome.
                      Unfortunately we are not in contact with any other owners as there's no residents' association.


                        I presume NHBC can't dismiss us due to the property being just outside the warranty period as its an ongoing problem.


                          Any changes in building regulations is irrelevant as even under older regulations the walls should have a sufficient u value, as should aluminium windows unless you are living on a cliff facing the Atlantic

                          I suggest that you do form an RA and ask the landlord to instruct a firm of chartered building surveyors or structural engineers to inspect the building and try to find the cause of the issues.

                          While the NHBC might avoid some issues and the excess can often be a kicker, the problems might be sufficiently serious that the earlier claims can be used.
                          Based on the information posted, I offer my thoughts.Any action you then take is your liability. While commending individual effort, there is no substitute for a thorough review of documents and facts by paid for professional advisers.


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