Slightly painful tenant

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    Slightly painful tenant

    Wondered if anyone has thoughts on use of s21 (while we still can!) when a tenant has been great at paying rent but is just very demanding - significantly more work than the other four properties combined. The main issue is mould on the walls - it’s an old building recently refitted to modern insulation standards, so the two external walls get condensation on them. This has been confirmed by a damp expert who declined to sell us any of his services. We’ve fitted a humidity-sensing variable extractor fan (but the tenant leaves it off as it’s “too noisy”) and provided a high end portable dehumidifier which he uses to mitigate the problem but complains at needing to use it. Previous tenant had no problems but was an outdoorsy type and kept the door open quite a bit (daily).

    Current tenant wants me to replace windows with ones with trickle vents. Property is on a busy road and we deliberately used triple glazing to minimise road noise. If they don’t like a small electric fan they won’t like the lorry noise!

    Tenant has paid the rent on time even when we didn’t know definitively what the cause of the problem was and no problems in any other respect. That said it’s in an area where voids aren’t a problem and it would re let pretty instantly at current rent levels - though we would take time to strip back the walls and redecorate to remove all trace of mould first. Don’t really see how I stop it coming back with the way the tenant uses the place. It’s a normal AST and will soon revert to periodic so can use s21.

    Any thoughts?

    I think it might be more productive to explain to the tenant that:
    You're not going to install new windows.
    If they don't run the humidifier, fan or leave the door open from time to time, they'll get mould and when it causes damage, they'll pay for it.
    The property isn't going to change, and, while the issue might go away during the summer it will come back in the autumn.

    As such, if they want to leave, you'll be flexible about it, so they can find somewhere else without the time pressure either of you serving notice brings about, but otherwise the property is simply the way that it is and isn't going to get any better.

    Long term, that property isn't suitable for a rental property if it's getting internal damp on the walls with normal use.
    At some point, a tenant will call in the council and they'll serve you an improvement notice to "fix it".
    When I post, I am expressing an opinion - feel free to disagree, I have been wrong before.
    Please don't act on my suggestions without checking with a grown-up (ideally some kind of expert).


      Agree with what JPK writes but have you contacted the external insulation seller/fitters and asked them to remedy the situation?

      Cases have come to the attention of press and TV whereby this type of insulation has been applied poorly allowing water ingress and basically it all has to come off!

      I'd go for insulating with celotex from inside on outside walls - yes more work but great results.

      Freedom at the point of zero............


        If the guy won't ventilate, s21 every time in my book.


          Originally posted by Awesomestow View Post
          The main issue is mould on the walls - it’s an old building recently refitted to modern insulation standards, so the two external walls get condensation on them.
          How does that work?

          I thought insulation kept the place warmer and so reduced condensation.


            Did the refit include looking at roof ,chimney flashings and drainpipes? Is it worse after a bout of bad weather?


              Originally posted by MdeB View Post
              I thought insulation kept the place warmer and so reduced condensation.
              The moisture that's in the air has to go somewhere, if the updated insulation has closed off where it used to escape, it'll hang around until it finds a cooler surface to condense on.

              If a damp expert declined to do anything about it, that suggests that whatever they could do, they knew the damp would come back.
              Possible requires something like a positive input ventilation system.
              When I post, I am expressing an opinion - feel free to disagree, I have been wrong before.
              Please don't act on my suggestions without checking with a grown-up (ideally some kind of expert).


                Thanks all. I suspect leaving the whisper quiet extractor fan on will fix the problem. Hard to tell because he hasn't left it on. And if he turns that off he'll turn off a PIV system too.

                MdeB - yes Jpkeates is right. Warmer air can hold more moisture so there's more water to condense onto cold surfaces. We bought the property with tenants in and it took a few years for them to go, during which time the unrenovated poorly insulated property had no mould or damp problems. We then refurbished, a single tenant used it for a full year with no problems, this couple moved in and there are problems.

                Alex - yes the refit completely replaced a flat roof and the flashing and repairs to the tiled roof. It's five flats and all internal walls were removed, only the external walls and the pitched tiled roof are unchanged. The problem isn't weather dependent. We've had it in one other flat, when it was occupied by a couple who had multiple jobs as personal trainers so had wet washing in there the whole time. Two other tenancies have had no problems at all.

                So I really do think it's tenant behaviour.


                  Tell the tenant the property is not suitable for their lifestyle and invite them to leave, s21 if they dont.


                    I have student rental which suffers just a little from mould caused by condensation because the tenants dry all their washing inside & don't open windows much! Like your property it is mostly external walls that suffer. I supply them with 'damp traps' to absorb the moisture & have painted troublesome areas with bathroom paint. I have found this has made a significant difference, especially on external walls behind furniture (wardrobes in my case) where the condensation tends to settle. Bathroom paint comes lots of lovely neutral shades & you would not know the difference except for the fact that the mould is kept at bay.

                    Good luck.


                      Interesting tip. Will give that some thought when we redecorate - which needs to happen either way.


                        Originally posted by Awesomestow View Post
                        Any thoughts?
                        If they are asking for Trickle Vents then they clearly also want an open fire to cook on :-).

                        Agree with the others that this is tenant lifestyle, but I think you have another option before incurring the costs of a tenant change.

                        You have a humidistat fan in there, which T leaves off. Personally I have never found such fans reliable, and I far prefer constant silent background ventilation and a Timed Boost.

                        Consider fitting something like a Nuaire Flatmaster (or Nuaire Drimaster if you have a suitable inlet space) to bring air in, and a Vent-Axia Lo-Carbon Centra T (which is a fan that goes in a normal 100mm outlet) to take it out. Put them at opposite ends.

                        The Centa T fan has 2 trickle setting (6 and 9 l/minute) and a timed boost like a normal fan. The background ventilation settings are silent.

                        I have often used the Tempra HR version, but these do make some noise.

                        I have these or similar in all my properties, and it does a lot for resilience to T lifestyles in a well sealed place. Cost should be around 300 for all the kit, plus half a day fitting.

                        Some heavy handed education as to how it will save them money by saving them heating up all the water vapour in the air might help. From next time, put it in the lease not to switch off he trickle ventilation.

                        Refer Mad Regulators to Arkell vs Pressdram.


                          Is the building solid wall or cavity? Which type of insulation was used (EPS,XPS or rockwool) ? Is the damp rising? Where is the mould and to what level? Have you had a thermal survey done to check for bridging? Its a really awkward situation and you've gone to quite an expense to make the property more comfortable and economical. Am i not right in thinking that trickle vents can be retro fitted and would not need replacement windows?


                            Trickle vents are quite easy to install, but in my experience don't really help much,

                            I have a similar problem, but my current tenant is quite good - he worries about it and does the best he can to ventilate - I cannot ask for more.

                            I would consider fitting the specialist systems as per midlandlandlord's post above. This would surely be better than an eviction on the basis of disagreement over ventilation?


                              Thanks all. I'm not 100% sure of my terminology - by a trickle vent I really just mean a hole through which air can pass. This is what the tenant wants because he doesn't want anything electrical because that's "not normal". We have already installed an electric extractor fan which is variable depending on humidity level - hard to gauge the effectiveness as the tenant leaves it off. He mitigates using the dehumidifier I provided.

                              Champagnecharly - mould is on two external walls which are Victorian and therefore (I presume) solid. The other walls are well insulated further to a major refurb a couple of years ago. The extent of the mould varies, we've had a damp expert in, it's not damp (rising or otherwise) it's condensation, he's highly experienced and 100% certain, and declined to sell us any damp treatments at all because they won't have any effect.

                              Suspect we may need to install a PIV system as per Midlandlandlord's post - but it doesn't look like that will be any quieter than the extractor fan and it's impossible to tell for sure unless I can get the tenant to leave the extractor fan on!


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