Damp - Liability

Who is liable for redecoration because of mould?

Q Who is liable to pay to repair and redecorate after damage due to mould of condensation dampness. Landlord or tenant?

A The answer to your question is 'it depends'. If the landlord has failed to provide sufficient permanent ventilation and adequate powered extraction in the kitchen and bathroom then it is possible that a case could be made against the landlord.

If on the other hand the lifestyle of you and the other occupants of the property is such that excessive water vapour is generated resulting in condensation and mould growth then this would very likely be down to you. You should take legal advice. Please read the articles on this site about condensation for guidance. Have you tried using a domestic dehumidifier?


Neighbour's leaking bathroom is ruining my wall

Q My dinning room wallpaper next to my neighbour's bathroom upstairs has become damp and mouldy. From discussion with my neighbour, I know their bathroom is leaking down to their kitchen which is next to my dinning room. What is the best way to resolve this problem? I am concern that my neighbour is just planning to have a cheap fix to prepare the house for sale and not finding the cause of the leak to get a proper fix. How do I go about claiming for the cost of damage to my property? Thank you for any advice you can offer.

A You should ask your neighbour in and show him the damage his leak is causing to your property and try to resolve the problem amicably. If this draws a blank then we suggest that you consult with a solicitor or citizen's advice bureau as soon as possible. Your neighbour's actions (or lack of them) are causing damage and sufferance and would we believe be classed as a nuisance. What could also occur is dry rot which neither you or your neighbour would want but the condition you describe sounds favourable for dry rot. You should contact your insurance company - check you may have legal protection for such circumstances and get some legal advice.


Damp caused by next door's bathroom - What shall I do?

Q I am living in an old terraced house that has had rising damp since I brought the property 7 years ago. The problem I have though is not connected to that. The property to the right of us is only connected to our house upstairs as we have an alleyway between the downstairs of our houses. I have never in my time of being here had any damp on the stairs/hallway, only in the lounge. The stairs/hallway run next to the alleyway and the top of the stairs is next to next doors bathroom. In the last 4-5 months brownish damp patches have been coming through the paintwork and I cannot repaint over them, they are also wet to touch. I approached the letting agents as the tenants do not speak English.  They have been round my property to have a look and just keep saying they don't know what it is as they have sealed round the bath. I am beside myself now as I would like to sell my property and have never had any problems like this before. I have been having to chase the letting agents all the time with no joy. I cannot see where else this damp could be coming from!  Please do you have any advice as to what I can do next?  Many thanks

A It sounds very much like the neighbour's bathroom is causing the problem. With all due respect to the letting agent they are just a letting agent and perhaps being able to work out what is going on may be beyond them. The silicone seal may be OK but what about the grout between the tiles? It is amazing just how much water can get behind the tiles if the grout is poor. Have you been next door to have a look yourself? Why not have a go? Show the tenants the problem on your side then go and look their side. If not get back on to the letting agent and point out that you consider the situation caused by next door to be a nuisance, you want it rectified immediately and if wet or dry rot develops as a result (which it could) you will hold them responsible.

Sorry not to be much help and good luck.

Q Thank you so much for getting back to me and so quickly! Unfortunately I have had no luck with trying to have a look at the property myself as the tenants do not speak English.  I will suggest to them about having a look behind the grout and take it from there. If I still have had no joy with this matter in the next couple of months, can I lodge a formal complaint against them?

A If you draw a blank with the tenants you will have to pursue the matter through the letting agent. We would suggest that you do that sooner rather than later as the combination of water and wood could be very expensive. Do it now - do not wait two months. Another good port of call is the Citizens' Advice Bureau - they are very helpful in these situations.




Do I have a case against the surveyor?

Q We have rising damp in 2 rooms. Property purchased 11 months ago. Full survey stated-minor isolated high moisture readings were obtained to some lower wall surfaces-the extent of dampness is not considered serious enough to warrant specialist advise at this time although the areas should be monitored as works may be required in the future. Damp proof guarantee company dissolved 1992. Work to be in £2000 region. Can I claim with any hope of success against surveyor?

A Your question is a legal issue and we are not qualified to answer you. From what you describe it sounds like your surveyor 'put you on notice' as to the possibility that work may be required in the future and his prediction was unfortunately correct - but take a legal opinion.


Neighbour has piled mud against my wall

Q My next door neighbour recently dug a hole in their garden for a pond. The mud that came from the hole is piled against the wall of our house. Can this cause a damp problem?
A Yes it can and if left there for long it will! Ask them to remove it immediately. If they delay you should inform them that you will hold them liable for any damage caused to your property as a result of their actions.


Neighbours patio is over our damp course

Q We have just peeled the paint off in our room to find a damp patch on our wall. We live in a mid terrace house with my next door neighbours being staggered forward from ours. The wall with the damp on it is my neighbours back wall which is where their patio has been laid and appears to have gone over our damp course. Now these neighbours moved in about 6 months after we moved in and the patio was already there. Who is responsible for correcting this problem?

A If the dampness in your wall is being caused by the fact that the adjoining property's patio has been laid above the damp-proof course in your wall then the owners of the property in question should be requested to take the appropriate action to remove the problem.

If any part of your neighbour's property is having an adverse effect upon your property we believe that in "legal talk" it is regarded as a nuisance and legal recourse would be available to you. We are not legally qualified and you would need to take professional legal advice on this point. We would like to stress, however, that you should do whatever is possible to resolve the situation amicably with your neighbour. It may well be that when you point out the problem and the effect it is having on your wall internally they will jump to and either lower or remove the patio or install adequate vertical protection.


Has my new DPC made my neighbours wall damp?

Q Just over 1yr ago we had a chemical damp proof course done. Now our neighbours have developed an area of dampness at around the same place the work was done. They are suggesting that our work has caused this problem. Could this be the case and if so how can we remedy the problem?

A We assume from your question that the problem in your neighbour's property is on a party (shared) wall with your property. If the party wall had evidence of rising damp on your side of the wall over a year ago, it would have been present on your neighbour's side as well even though it may not have been visible at that time. A wall is a wall - one half of it will not react differently to the other just because it is owned by someone else. Installing a chemical damp course does not cause damp - it is meant to prevent it! It is very probable that your neighbours side of the wall will need replastering correctly, which we assume took place on your side a year ago, due to salt contamination. You have basically dealt with the problem on your side and your neighbours now have to complete the process their side.


Told it is damp but it is not damp?

Q Three years ago I bought a totally refurbished ground floor flat. New rendering and hung tiles, new roof, re-plastered throughout. The damp course is apparent and bitumen has been painted below the damp course wall and ground. I am now selling the property, and have been told I have rising damp due to hygroscopic salt contamination, inhibited by unsuitable soft plaster mix. The surface plaster measures bone dry on the Protimeter. There is no surface evidence of damp; all walls are painted plaster clean and clear of any mould, condensation or any obvious signs of damp. Skirtings are natural pine and also read dry. Why am I getting conflicting readings, must the walls be treated, how many more years may it take before deterioration may show through? What are the alternatives to evacuating and all the plaster being removed? Do I have any recourse with the original builder for latent claims?
A From what you describe it sounds very much like someone is 'inventing' unnecessary work and perhaps leading you up the path! This highlights the need for an independent opinion such as we provide. Hygroscopic salts do not cause rising damp - they are a consequence of rising damp. You state that plaster surfaces and skirtings are dry when tested with a Protimeter yet you have been told you have hygroscopic salt contamination!? It just does not add up. If you did have hygroscopic salt contamination this would very probably cause a reading on a Protimeter (if they were there in sufficient quantity) due to their moisture attracting properties. How was it decided and who decided that you had hygroscopic salt contamination? Were plaster samples removed from site and tested in a lab? If your walls are dry there is no need to seek recourse - in any event caveat emptor (buyer beware) would be relevant. Perhaps we should speak - please give me a call.


Who is liable for the damp?

Q I live in a Victorian conversion of three flats. A recent survey (not for damp - but for another reason) showed the ground floor (not mine) to have 'appalling damp' and the need for gutting the flat, redecorating and a damp proof course. Who is liable for this if the damp has been neglected by the ground floor owners for over a decade?
A To establish who is responsible you would have to consult your lease.  It is possible that each of the flats is jointly liable for structural elements of the property, i.e., roof and structural walls and that there is a shared liability between flats for shared items, i.e., floor/ceiling joists. The fact that damp has been neglected by the ground floor flat owners does not really have any effect upon the amount of treatment or work necessary which very probably would be the same now as it was ten years ago. Only the price to fix it would have changed.


Who is liable for the damp in my flat?

Q I have just completed on a flat and one of the walls that was previously hidden by a wardrobe has approximately 1sq metre of damp either side of the corner. Who should be responsible for this and what are the approximate costing?
A Who is responsible would depend upon what the cause of the problem is and possibly the terms of your lease. If it is at low level in a corner on an outside wall adjacent to a wardrobe and surface black spot mould growth is present then it sounds like condensation could be a probable cause. If it is anything more sinister then the terms of your lease may mean that if it is a structural wall then any remedial costs may be spread amongst all of the block's leaseholders - check your lease. Your surveyor should have picked up any major problem but if he missed something then he may be liable. If you did not have a surveyor then 'Caveat Emptor' (buyer beware) would be relevant in which case it's down to you.
Impossible to give a guide on costs as this would depend upon what the problem is. If it is condensation the cost is zero - look at your lifestyle in the property and adjust as necessary. Look at our web site condensation pages.

Contact Peter: Email - info@dampdecay.co.uk - Telephone: 015242 71794