Increasing numbers of landlords are reporting damp and mould problems after forking out for energy efficiency work, it has been claimed.
John Blackwood, chief executive of the Scottish Association of Landlords, told MSPs that it had seen a significant increase in calls about damp and mouldy properties from members, particularly those who had not previously had an issue.
“Members are finding problems with homes as a direct result of putting insulation into a property,” he explained. “This is due partly to issues with insulation and fitters doing the work – you don’t know how good or bad these people are until you get a problem.”
Giving evidence to the Scottish Parliament’s housing committee, Blackwood said tenants reported that they weren’t switching on their heating because they were terrified of bills, which had also caused problems.
Groups giving evidence said tenants should not automatically be blamed for issues in their homes or criticised for not knowing how to cook potatoes and showering too frequently. Instead, fuel poverty and under-investment in social housing had to be addressed.
Aoife Deery, social justice policy officer at Citizens Advice, added: “Clients get blamed for their lifestyle, but it often links back to fuel poverty and high energy costs - they can’t afford to lose heat through proper ventilation.
"It’s often expensive and difficult to diagnose damp and mould – that’s why we see delays of months or years.”
Housing and tenant bodies were generally supportive of private landlords, with Debbie King, head of advocacy at Shelter Scotland, saying they needed support and funding to upgrade current homes.
Living Rent agreed that there should be a funding pot around retrofit and Shona Gorman, of Central Scotland Regional Network of Tenants, agreed: “We can’t just say to landlords ‘you have to deal with this’ and walk away – they need support.”