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bilz
13-03-2006, 16:45 PM
Hi,

I would like to thank you first for taking time to read my thread.

I rented a 1 bed flat on £600pm in November 2003. Everything was in order when I hired the property and there were no explicit faults. However, after almost 7-8 months I started to notice that our leather stuff was getting some fungul spots and it started growing. All our leather jackets, leather shoes, leather purses etc got ruined and had to be washed and cleaned. A big gap appeared under one of the large windows (enough to insert your index finger) and in the corners large patches of fungus started to appear. I cleaned everything and painted the parts but after a month it all started again. I informed my landlord but he did not take any action. I reminded him a few times and requested him to have it checked but no action from his side. I really did not want to cause any incovenience to my landlord and kept my rent payments on time.

However, about 8 months ago myself and my wife both were diagnosed with scabies (skin parasites) and since in a lot of agony. My wife also got asthma because of this. We had been having constant check-ups by doctors and I have recently been referred to the specialist. Every single cloth piece in our flat stinks of fungus and we haven't been able to move quickly to somewhere else. My landlord still did not give a damn and has never been around to check this. I have taken pictures and made video of the flat and every corner. Doctors will also provide me the report on this.

I am now angry and have now decided to take legal action against him but have no knowledge on the procedure or the likely outcome of this. I would really want my 1 year rent back and some compensation (mainly rent).

Can anyone of you please recommend any government department to contact and/or housing association lawyers etc. I cannot afford to pay huge lawyers fees so please bear this in mind.

Many many thanks for taking time to read this. Your help will be very much appreciated.

justaboutsane
13-03-2006, 17:28 PM
Contact the Environmental Health department of your local council and they will come and take a look at what you have. They will then decide to take action.

However, you have to ensure the flat is adequatly aired. If you dry washing inside ensure you have windows open. Make sure you keep the flat well ventilated.

ddd
13-03-2006, 18:58 PM
Agree with Justaboutsame. Really important to get good ventilation and not dry washing on radiators etc- but you must decide what outcome you want before you go too far, as follows:
1)do you wish to remain in property under the circumstances when Landlord has not responded in a professional way
2)what will be the effect of contacting the Environmental Health and what will/can Landlord do i.e. give you notice? - may be best to give him/her last chance in a letter finishing by saying you intend to take action (recorded delivery) if you really feel you want to stay in the property

The Citizens Advice Bureau can be very helpful in taking you through your options and the consequences

Worldlife
13-03-2006, 23:03 PM
The mould growth you have mentioned is probably due to condensation.

Is there any sign of structural dampness to the property. Are the walls damp at low level indicating rising dampness. Are the floors concrete, stone or suspended timber floors? Are there any damp stains on walls or ceilings that might be from penetrating dampness.

How old is the property and can you see a damp proof course from the outside?

What heating methods are provided for the flat and are you able to provide adequate heating and ventilation to minimise risk of condensation and mould growth?

Scabies is more likely to be a personal infection picked up by either yourself or your partner and transferred between each other rather than by contact with objects left within the flat.

The Environmental Health Department will determine whether the condensation you are experiencing is due to structural problems that are the Landlord's responsibility or your neglect of the property in providing adequate heating and ventilation.

Poppy
14-03-2006, 09:29 AM
Learn a bit more about scabies from the NHS Direct website http://www.nhsdirect.nhs.uk/en.aspx?articleID=328.

Sorry bliz but the NHS Direct website seems to be saying scabies is passed from human to human.

Sure, you may be unhappy with the condition of the dwelling, but I think that is not the root of the problem. Unless you have been hugging your landlord, I doubt if it is their fault.

pms
14-03-2006, 13:32 PM
Give your landlord one last chance by writing to him and mention at the end of the letter that unless he responds in the next ten days then you will issue a S80 notice under the EPA(1990) in the magestrates court as from what you say it is a statutory nuscinuce under S79 of the act.

Provided that you have kept a balance of heat and ventilation then mould should not form. As for the point made about rising dampness this is a myth. Any dampness caused is by virtue of external influences i.e leaking overflows,leaking pipes etc.Alternativly you could use S11 of the L&T Act(1985) and sue you landlord for disrepair especally if he has been given notice and is aware of the problem.

Obviously your landlord doesn't give a damm and in common law as well as Housing Law as a duty of care to his/her tenant.

Hope this is of help

Ericthelobster
14-03-2006, 14:29 PM
Provided that you have kept a balance of heat and ventilation then mould should not form. But we don't know whether the tenant's kept a balance of heat and ventilation because we haven't been told, although my bet is that condensation, caused by poor ventilation, is very likely to be the cause. The landlord may or may not have some responsibility there; but for example, if the property is full of drying racks loaded with wet clothes 24/7, and no windows are opened, then that would be down to the tenant.


As for the point made about rising dampness this is a myth. Any dampness caused is by virtue of external influences i.e leaking overflows,leaking pipes etc.Well let's not get into the old "Rising damp does not exist" debate! Either way, one of the commonest causes of dampness is condensation, and the tenant should rule that out - and any culpability of his own - before wheeling out the big guns as you are suggesting. For example, it appears that the scabies incident is what has misguidedly prompted the tenant to consider legal action, when clearly that has nothing to do with the landlord.

pms
14-03-2006, 15:04 PM
Eric you may be a senior member but some of your comments are a little bit misconceived.Rising damp is a myth and has been proved beyond reasonable doubt that it doesn't exist.Secondly mould will not form if there is a balance of heat and ventilation, I would however agree that drying clothes inside is not ideal and will increase the realitive humidity that mould needs to strive in. You go on to say that the big guns shouldn't be brought out.Why!. If the landlord has been given notice then it is up to him to at least inspect the property wither it's the tenant's fault or not it's called "duty of care" perhaps it's about time some landlords had this embossed on their foreheads.

justaboutsane
14-03-2006, 17:12 PM
I dry my washing inside, before my new window went into my bedroom the condensation was appaling in both the bedroom and the lounge.. no matter where I dried washing... and I live in a maisonette. Once my new uPVC window went into the bedroom the condensation stopped! I ensure that the windows are open a fraction when drying washing and I do not have a problem anymore!

Worldlife
14-03-2006, 17:32 PM
I cannot see there can be a debate the existence of rising dampness!!!

We have damp proof courses installed in walls and floors to prevent rising dampness. An Environmental Health Officer would easily establish whether or not there was rising dampness (or penetrating dampness due to other structural defects).

I feel from the history here - the flat was OK when taken over by the current tenant- that the problem is most likely to be condensation. In fairness to the tenant it is important to exclude the possibility of structural problems and establish beyond reasonable doubt that the dampness and mould growth are due to the tenant's use (or misuse!) of the property.

In view of the nonsense about scabies I would as a landlord have serious doubts about the allegations being made by this tenant. Wonder if there may be a string of other false complaints that the landlord might focus on.

Don't forget the Landlord may demand to see the report of the Environmental Health Officer and that report may not favour the tenant.

The only issue I can see here that could affect condensation issues is the gap under the window and whether or not this is of sufficient size to accentuate the risk of condensation or reflects merely the need for minor repair. It's not clear whether the tenant is referring to movement of the window frame (and if so the cause of this needs investigation ) or if the gap is between the sash and the frame

Ericthelobster
14-03-2006, 17:37 PM
Rising damp is a myth and has been proved beyond reasonable doubt that it doesn't exist.What, are you Jeff Howell? :) Anyway I didn't actually disagree with you, I said it wasn't relevant to this situation.


Secondly mould will not form if there is a balance of heat and ventilationI didn't disagree with that.


You go on to say that the big guns shouldn't be brought out.I said no such thing. I pointed out that obviously tenant-culpable condensation, for want of a better phrase, should be ruled out first. If bilz comes back here and, for example, confirms that he never dries washing in the property and keeps it well ventilated, then damn right, the LL should investigate and if he can't be bothered, then of course the tenant has every right to complain to the authorities.

Ericthelobster
14-03-2006, 17:44 PM
I cannot see there can be a debate the existence of rising dampness!!!Oh, that comes from here: http://www.askjeff.co.uk/content.php?id=3!

Jeff Howell is regarded as something of a maverick in the building trade; whether you believe him or not he is certainly dead right in that gazillions of £££ are spent on unneccesary damp-proof treatments, diagnosed by companies with a vested interest in finding 'damp', and perpetuated because building societies won't lend mortgage money without the totally worthless bit of paper which they provide with the word "guarantee" written on it...

Worldlife
14-03-2006, 17:44 PM
I dry my washing inside, before my new window went into my bedroom the condensation was appaling in both the bedroom and the lounge.. no matter where I dried washing... and I live in a maisonette. Once my new uPVC window went into the bedroom the condensation stopped! I ensure that the windows are open a fraction when drying washing and I do not have a problem anymore!

If an existing single glazed window were replaced by a double glazed unit then one would expect that condensation on the glass would be reduced. Furthermore the improved insulation offered by the double glazed window would help keep wall temperatures higher and thus reduce condensation risks. Central heating systems will obviously assist a tenant to maintain adequate heating levels throughout the house at a reasonable expense.

It's not mandatory for a landlord to provide double glazing or central heating and so both owner occupiers and tenants will, in colder weather, need to provide background heating to prevent the walls of the room becoming unduly cold and thus giving rise to severe condensation.

Worldlife
14-03-2006, 18:10 PM
Oh, that comes from here: http://www.askjeff.co.uk/content.php?id=3!

Jeff Howell is regarded as something of a maverick in the building trade; whether you believe him or not he is certainly dead right in that gazillions of £££ are spent on unneccesary damp-proof treatments, diagnosed by companies with a vested interest in finding 'damp', and perpetuated because building societies won't lend mortgage money without the totally worthless bit of paper which they provide with the word "guarantee" written on it...

Well I've inspected many properties where walls have been badly stained suggestive of rising dampness. An intelligent surveyor will use a correctly set damp meter and in my experience the meter will indicate very high levels of brick moisture content in the stained areas and these will gradually reduce the higher one gets up the wall. In all but the worst circumstances the meter will return to a zero reading between after about two metres.

In approving Housing Grants I have found the findings of most reputable damp proof contractors accord with my independant findings and I have not experienced a reputable contractor suggesting the installation of a damp course in part of a property where it is not necessary.

In many cases we have both agreed that dampness has been due to bridging of an effective damp proof course by garden earth above it or by the outside rendering.

Sometimes the damp course will not be faulty and the problem of dampness is due to efflorescent salts left in the wall and plaster from a period before and effective damp proof course was installed or a faulty one repaired.

I agree there is an area of difficulty when the rising dampness is only beginning to show - maybe as marks or wallpaper breaking away near skirting board level. Again careful examination of the extent and height along all of the walls will determine whether or not repairs are essential at this particular point of time.

A Building Society have the perfect right to feel that the situation can only worsen and to require the works to be carried out sooner rather than later.

Worldlife
14-03-2006, 18:17 PM
Learn a bit more about scabies from the NHS Direct website http://www.nhsdirect.nhs.uk/en.aspx?articleID=328.

Sorry bliz but the NHS Direct website seems to be saying scabies is passed from human to human.

Sure, you may be unhappy with the condition of the dwelling, but I think that is not the root of the problem. Unless you have been hugging your landlord, I doubt if it is their fault.

If I recall correctly there was a wartime scabies experiment where an attempt was made to infect people by causing them to sleep on sheets previously used by a scabies victim. Scabies was not passed on in this experiment.

One of the web pages I looked at listed Scabies as a sexually transmitted disease!! :eek:


Edit - found more information


Human Guinea Pigs
Mellanby Kenneth:

Book Description: London: Golancz, 1945, 1945. Hardcover. Book Condition: Very Good. Dust Jacket Included. The Story of an Experiment during the war to discover the cause of scabies and how the disease can be overcome. The investigator was an army doctor, his 'victims' who were all volunteers were Conscientious Objectors. Slightly discoloured dw protected by clear film wrapper. Internally a very clean book in vg+ condition. Slight browning to page fore edges. Bookseller Inventory # 6869

justaboutsane
14-03-2006, 19:45 PM
Vic, My window was 100% rotten! Thats why it had to go, I think the fact that the wood was soo wet and rotten taht the condensation was so bad! I had an EHO on my side too. The lounge/balcony door is still rotten so may cause an issue in the future but I dont care.. I am out of here in 14 days! I did my bit. I moved into a flea and pigeon infested flat and ripped out the kitchen decorated throughout after clearing up all the pigeon poo and applied for a government grant to get storage heaters installed... in return I got 9 months of hassle over a rotten window.. the decor was nearly ruined through the problem but eventually the window was replaced and teh decor was rescued! The LL can now charge more rent on this place .. but have I seen my refund for the work I have done.... No Comment as yet! But put it this way.. I have not paid my last 2 months rent! One is the deposit and the other is some of the money I am owed!!

cris/c
14-03-2006, 20:49 PM
I don't think even the worst of landlords can be held responsible for scabies.

However, if there is fungal growth on furniture etc., it suggests more than just a problem with condensation. Some fungal/damp spores pose very serious health risks and this should be ruled out first. I would go back to the landlord asap, and give him a final opportunity to see for himself. Failing this, I would, as has been suggested, get onto Environmental Health.

I don't think I go along with the argument that there is no such thing as penetrating rising damp. We have just had some work done on one of our properties, a Victorian terrace property and the damp was all along the base of an internal wall. Damp is damp, if it is coming from the base of the wall up, then it is 'rising' surely. There was no evidence on properties on either side that could be put down to faulty guttering etc.,

pms
15-03-2006, 13:07 PM
Well I've inspected many properties where walls have been badly stained suggestive of rising dampness. An intelligent surveyor will use a correctly set damp meter and in my experience the meter will indicate very high levels of brick moisture content in the stained areas and these will gradually reduce the higher one gets up the wall. In all but the worst circumstances the meter will return to a zero reading between after about two metres.

In approving Housing Grants I have found the findings of most reputable damp proof contractors accord with my independant findings and I have not experienced a reputable contractor suggesting the installation of a damp course in part of a property where it is not necessary.

In many cases we have both agreed that dampness has been due to bridging of an effective damp proof course by garden earth above it or by the outside rendering.

Sometimes the damp course will not be faulty and the problem of dampness is due to efflorescent salts left in the wall and plaster from a period before and effective damp proof course was installed or a faulty one repaired.

I agree there is an area of difficulty when the rising dampness is only beginning to show - maybe as marks or wallpaper breaking away near skirting board level. Again careful examination of the extent and height along all of the walls will determine whether or not repairs are essential at this particular point of time.

A Building Society have the perfect right to feel that the situation can only worsen and to require the works to be carried out sooner rather than later.

I tend to disagree with you there.The damp meters you refer to only measure the wmc(wood moisture content) and can not give accurate readings on other building materials.The only sure fire way of measuring the moisture content in building materials is by a calcium carbide test.

Worldlife
15-03-2006, 14:33 PM
I tend to disagree with you there.The damp meters you refer to only measure the wmc(wood moisture content) and can not give accurate readings on other building materials.The only sure fire way of measuring the moisture content in building materials is by a calcium carbide test.

Scientific theory v practical experience and interpretation of results in the field.!!!! You may not have absolute readings but you do have relative readings between the dry and damp sections of wall at different height.

When surveying for dampness one is not carrying out an accurate scientific experiment but using an instrument to assist one to determine the extent of rising or penetrating dampness. It's helpful to have information concerning areas where dampness only detectable by relative instrument readings.

The latest professional damp meters enable the user to take into account the use of the device in different materials.

@justaboutsane

Sorry to read of your difficulties and hope you are able to reach a satisfactory conclusion to current problems.

Agree with you that a badly decayed window with water saturated woodwork would accentuate condensation risks particularly if there were penetrating dampness in the brickwork surrounding the decayed frame.

pms
15-03-2006, 15:41 PM
Scientific theory v practical experience and interpretation of results in the field.!!!! You may not have absolute readings but you do have relative readings between the dry and damp sections of wall at different height.

When surveying for dampness one is not carrying out an accurate scientific experiment but using an instrument to assist one to determine the extent of rising or penetrating dampness. It's helpful to have information concerning areas where dampness only detectable by relative instrument readings.

The latest professional damp meters enable the user to take into account the use of the device in different materials.

@justaboutsane

Sorry to read of your difficulties and hope you are able to reach a satisfactory conclusion to current problems.

Agree with you that a badly decayed window with water saturated woodwork would accentuate condensation risks particularly if there were penetrating dampness in the brickwork surrounding the decayed frame.

I will say it again damp meters have no accuracy they only measure electrical conductence.Think of building materials,bricks,blocks etc. They contain carbon which is a good conducter so walls that are dry can be shown to be "wet".In the last ten cases that I have been asked to give expert evidence in have not reached court due to the fact it is easy to pick holes in these devices.Prod a meter into the wall, then carry out a CC test you will then get 2 different readings with the CC test being more accurate.
I rest my case!!

Ericthelobster
15-03-2006, 19:52 PM
I will say it again damp meters have no accuracy they only measure electrical conductenceAbsolutely, all they can assess is the level of damp in the top 1-2 mm of the wall structure (which may well be just condensation) and this is where I was coming from with my earlier rant-ette against the damp-proofing trade. So often what happens is that a building society valuer comes round with one of these toys, sticks it on the wall and beep! "Damp" gets written down in the report, and the building society insists on a specialist timber and damp survey, which gets carried out ('free') by a spotty oik armed with another damp meter, which is used as the sole method of diagnosis. Sure enough, he finds 'damp' everywhere too, and surprise surprise, his firm can do all the necessary work for X grand, which is insisted upon by the building society as a condition of the mortage.

A couple of real-life anecdotes on the subject:

The elderly mother of an acquaintance in the property trade was selling her house a couple of years ago, and Spotty Oik came round to do a damp inspection. Went round with his meter, which duly went beep amidst much sucking of teeth. "That's odd", said the son, "I'm sure there's no damp, let me try it with mine", and whipped out his own meter, which emitted not a whimper when applied to the same area. Oik then repeated the process, and was again rewarded with a bleat from the device, at which point the son spotted that Oik was surreptiously holding the thing against the side of his hand, thereby shorting out the terminals and emitting a satisfactory beep every time the 'on' button was pressed.

Next :D !

This one also happened to someone I know. Spotty Oik (a different one, presumably) sticks his meter into a damp patch above the skirting board.

"B-e-e-e-p!"

"Oh dear - I'm afraid there's rising damp here, it will need a new DPC injecting on this wall."

"Ah. Um, just put your hand on the damp patch, eh?.... Now, sniff your hand."

"Yeuch..... er - smells like... cat pee??"

"Yes, next door's cat. Little bastard keeps sneaking in through our cat flap to spray on our wall."

Needless to say, that was another lost contract.

Dingbat
16-03-2006, 10:14 AM
I will say it again damp meters have no accuracy they only measure electrical conductence.Think of building materials,bricks,blocks etc. They contain carbon which is a good conducter so walls that are dry can be shown to be "wet".

And of course you realise that this doesn't undermine Worldlife's point about relative readings. Your point only applies if an absolute reading is being used to detect damp, and that absolute reasing is not calibrated to conductance in the material being tested. So it is false to claim that damp meters have no accuracy.

bilz
16-03-2006, 12:19 PM
Thanks to everyone who took time to read through my request and gave valuable information.

Yes, I did dried my clothes in my flat but had windows open. I used to have single window but had those changed to double glazed last year. The walls still remain very cold (touch & you can feel). I understand the scabies might not be the result of the dampness but every single piece of cloth in our flat smell of dampness and we thought it might have been because of that. All leather stuff get fungus after a 3-4 weeks which needs to be cleaned.

I am, however, looking for a 2 bed flat in London to buy. Hopefully, will get away from this s**thole soon.

Thanks to all again.

pms
16-03-2006, 13:36 PM
And of course you realise that this doesn't undermine Worldlife's point about relative readings. Your point only applies if an absolute reading is being used to detect damp, and that absolute reasing is not calibrated to conductance in the material being tested. So it is false to claim that damp meters have no accuracy.

Damp meters have no accuracy and that's a fact.They can only give an indication of moisture but that doesn't mean that moisture is present.A wall is either damp or it isn't and as I said in an earlier thread meter or CC test will give two different reading with the CC test being the only accurate way of diagnozing dampness.

Ericthelobster
16-03-2006, 13:37 PM
Just come across some like-minded info about dampproof treatment salesmen:

http://groups.google.co.uk/group/uk.d-i-y/browse_frm/thread/e307b03529bc9426/443f0f0fb544c2f4?hl=en#443f0f0fb544c2f4

Worldlife
16-03-2006, 16:26 PM
Damp meters have no accuracy and that's a fact.They can only give an indication of moisture but that doesn't mean that moisture is present.A wall is either damp or it isn't and as I said in an earlier thread meter or CC test will give two different reading with the CC test being the only accurate way of diagnozing dampness.

I wonder how consistent and reliable CC tests and what variation in readings one would get on adjoining core readings. Would such variations reflect accuracy of the test or would they reflect real changes in the dampness levels at different points in the property? How many landlords would find it acceptable to have sufficient core holes drilled in their property to establish a true picture of the extent of alleged structural dampness especially if all other evidence was pointing to the problem being condensation?

Our Doctor's surgery has just installed an automatic blood pressure meter. I thought I would do a second reading and this was significantly different to the first. The third did not agree with the first two.

I sought comment on these divergent readings and the surgery nurse took a further three readings neither of which coincided or matched the automatic device.

If on an important issue such as blood pressure one has to rely on a broad perspective offered by several readings I think it is reasonable to rely on the broad perspective offered by a various damp meter readings.

So again we do not rely just on a meter but of the experience of health staff in interpreting the results of such tests in relation to the history and health of the patient. I have suggested in the thread on dampness and condensation that the background history is useful in helping "diagnose" condensation from dampness.

A difficult area is where there is a very low band of slight dampness at skirting level that might be either the start of rising dampness or due to condensation. I'm not sure that dampness of this degree would constitute a risk to health or a CC test would be necessarily conclusive.

If you choose a cowboy operator for a proposed dpc contract then that cowboy operator will , if that is his pitch, trick you whether he uses chemical or electrical devices to "prove" dampness.

Dingbat
20-03-2006, 15:54 PM
Our Doctor's surgery has just installed an automatic blood pressure meter. I thought I would do a second reading and this was significantly different to the first. The third did not agree with the first two.

I sought comment on these divergent readings and the surgery nurse took a further three readings neither of which coincided or matched the automatic device.


That's what manual sphygmomanometers are for, they're more accurate.

Dingbat
20-03-2006, 15:55 PM
Damp meters have no accuracy and that's a fact.They can only give an indication of moisture but that doesn't mean that moisture is present.A wall is either damp or it isn't and as I said in an earlier thread meter or CC test will give two different reading with the CC test being the only accurate way of diagnozing dampness.

Accuracy is not all or nothing, something can be more accurate or less accurate without being 100% accurate.

Worldlife
20-03-2006, 18:35 PM
That's what manual sphygmomanometers are for, they're more accurate.

Three non coinciding readings on the automatic machine and three non coinciding readings on the sphygmomanometer. Six different readings! Perhaps it was something to do with the rather gorgeous nurse using the sphygmomanometer! :)