Tenants should be considered one of the most important aspects of your property investment, as they are essentially providing you with a consistent income stream. That being said, there is one tenant you should avoid at all costs - condensation.
While condensation may not seem like a big deal, if left untreated it can potentially cause damage to your investment property, and indirectly impact the health of your tenants. Despite your obligations, preventing condensation build-up and mould growth in your investment property is a shared responsibility between you and your tenants which is why is it important that all parties involved remain vigilant.
Condensation - What is it and how does it occur?
Frequently found on windows, walls and ceilings, condensation occurs when warm, humid air collides with a cooler surface and reaches its "dew point".
The air can hold only a limited amount of water vapour before it reaches a point where it is oversaturated, and that amount depends on the air temperature. The warmer the atmosphere, the more moisture can be held in the air. So, if the air becomes cooled by approaching a cold surface, the vapour turns into droplets of water – forming condensation.
If left untreated, condensation can cause rot and also lead to mould forming.
Typically condensation in a home originates from unavoidable everyday activities, such as:
- Having a shower or bath
- Drying clothes inside
- Using a clothes dryer that is not ventilated
- Using heating that is not flued
Damage might include:
- Mould growing in the property – especially in bathrooms, behind beds and in cupboards.
- Damaging wood in a property – particularly around windows where condensation has not been removed. The damage can lead to window sills rotting.
- Damage can also occur to wallpaper, plasterboard, linings and carpets.
Minimisation and prevention
Ventilating a home is important to prevent condensation and avoid damage being caused to a property.
What can your tenants do?
By employing the following strategies, your tenants can minimise/prevent condensation from occurring.
- Use bathroom and kitchen fans to exhaust the air outdoors and not back into your home.
- Open a window or door daily to circulate air into your home, particularly when using the bathroom facilities, cooking or washing/drying clothes.
- Open drapes and blinds, allowing air to circulate against windows.
- Dry clothes outdoors to prevent excess moisture escaping into your property. If you have no choice but to dry clothes inside, open your doors or windows in these rooms.
- Make sure all grilles/ducts within the apartment are clean, clear of obstructions and are kept fully opened (where adjustable) to ensure that they operate correctly and provide the necessary ventilation to the space.
- Make sure you cover fish tanks and move your plants outdoors to prevent excess moisture.
- Do not overfill your bedroom wardrobes and kitchen cupboards. With lack of ventilation and trapped warm air your overfilled cupboards are a breeding ground for mould as the air is not able to circulate freely inside.
- For the same reason as above, make sure that your furniture is at least 50mm away from the surrounding walls.
What can you do?
Mould and condensation issues triggered by structural faults or leaks are usually a landlord's responsibility, so it’s essential you take the appropriate measures. By employing the following strategies, you can minimise/prevent condensation from occurring.
- Check the roof for leaks and broken tiles and make the necessary repairs as soon as possible.
- Fix leaky plumbing as soon as possible.
- The weepholes in aluminium frames can get clogged. If this happens, water will stand in the lower window frame sections. Check weepholes.
- Ensure there aren’t any leaking toilets, and that the seals in the bathtub and kitchen sink are undamaged.
- Fix swollen or crumbling walls, and remove buckling floorboards.
- Keep the property warm with insulation, draughtproofing, and heating systems.
- If you have treated a mould issue in the past, redecorate using quality fungicidal paint. Where possible, remove lining paper and wallpaper, treat the plaster and then paint or paper the area again.
- Install effective fans in spaces likely to be affected by condensation, such as bathrooms.
- Many interior finishes retain some levels of moisture. The interior finish is a critical factor affecting the growth of mould. Flat paints, plasters, and untreated wood are more prone to moisture absorbency than semi-gloss or gloss painted surfaces and treated timbers – it could be worth investing in these materials.
- Consider installing ventilation over appliances that produce moisture, such as dryers, or stoves.
- Install storm windows, or replacement windows with double or triple glazing.
Ultimately, the cure for condensation lies in preventing the condensation from ever occurring in the first place. If you are unsure if the problem is condensation or would like to know more about protecting your property from the threats of condensation and mould growth, please get in touch with your property manager for advice.