What landlords need to know about ventilation

Posted: 2/1/2021

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Residential properties – the law

With residential properties, the landlord must ensure that the building meets health and safety requirements. This generally means that the landlord is responsible for ensuring good ventilation.

Residential property – the reality

The issue of ventilation in residential properties is probably a case study in the phrase “you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make them drink”. In other words, landlords can give their tenants all the tools they need to ventilate a property, but that doesn’t mean they’ll actually use them.

In the real world, it tends to be best to use a “belt-and-braces” approach. In other words, landlords must try to put in as many automated condensation-management features as they can. At the same time, educating tenants on what they can do to avoid condensation. Landlords could also consider making it a contractual requirement for their tenants to ventilate the property to the required standard. In fact, we do both of these things at Key One Property.

Landlords also need to pay attention to vents not being blocked, e.g. floor vents that have been covered by stones, earth, concrete or tarmac, and internal vents that tenants can sometimes cover up. 

Protecting against condensation

In the real world, tenants aren’t likely to want to open windows when it’s hot inside but cold outside. This means that landlords need to think about offering them other options to deal with condensation. Consider fitting a hood in the kitchen and using a self-contained shower cabin in the bathroom.

Also, landlords should consider advising tenants to only air-dry their clothes in the bath or shower. Air-drying clothes is one of the biggest causes of condensation, but it’s also one of the most understandable. Both launderettes and tumble dryers are expensive and it’s not always possible to dry clothes outside, especially not in autumn and winter.

If none of this works, then landlords might want to think about treating the symptom rather than the cause. They could invest in some dehumidifiers for tenants to use to clean and dry the air after cooking, or a tumble dryer for drying clothes. It can often be less expensive than treating mould.

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