A decent home

You have a right to a home that is fit for human habitation and free from hazards that could harm your health or safety.

Damp and mould

Your home should be free from damp and mould problems. Most homes in the UK will get small isolated patches of mould spots during the winter. It is very important that you try to stop damp problems getting so bad that they damage your health. Severe mould growth can be a health problem for people with asthma and other chest problems.

Stage 1 – Stop mould from becoming a problem

Condensation is the most common form of damp in rented properties. Condensation appears when moisture in the air comes into contact with a cold surface, such as a window or a cold wall. Mould can then grow on damp walls and window frames.

There are many things you can and should do to help:

  • keep a lid on pans when cooking;
  • use extractor fans provided;
  • dry clothes outdoors if possible;
  • keep the door closed and window open when drying clothes indoors;
  • keep your home properly and evenly heated. Regular heating keeps the walls and other surfaces warm and reduces the risk of condensation;
  • don't try to brush or vacuum mould. This releases it into the air and could make breathing problems worse;
  • treat mould growth to remove it and stop it getting worse. Use a fungicidal wash, available from DIY shops or supermarkets.

For more information please see:

Stage 2 – Ask your landlord for help

If you follow the advice in stage 1 and that does not solve the problem, ask your landlord to help. You should ask in writing – it’s best to use an email, a text or a letter – and then keep a copy. Tell your landlord what the problem is and where it is. Explain what you have done to try to solve the problem if you can. Ask politely. Most landlords will want to help.

You may find it useful to use Shelter’s how to report repairs to a private landlord template letter

The law says that your landlord must fix damp caused by problems such as:

  • a leaking roof, gutter or cracked wall;
  • leaking pipes;
  • rotten window frames;
  • broken heaters;
  • damp-proofing that is old or defective - this is often the cause of damp on ground-floor and basement flats.

Your landlord should do something to improve the situation even if your tenancy agreement doesn't say anything about their responsibility for conditions in your home. For example, your landlord could:

  • provide a de-humidifier;
  • install ventilation; or
  • improve the insulation of your home.

Stage 3 – Get help

If you have written to your landlord telling them about the problem and they have not done anything, you need further help.

It may be possible to take legal action against your landlord to force them to carry out repairs or to compensate you.

If you think the conditions are putting your health at risk, you can report a disrepair to the council, who can assess whether your home is safe and take action if it is not.

After inspecting your home, we will take action. The action we take will depend on the kind of problem you have, but if we find conditions that are a risk to your health, it is likely that we will issue a formal notice to the landlord.

Most landlords want to know as soon as something needs fixing and want to fix things as promptly. Always tell your landlord when something needs repairing.

When you ask your landlord to make repairs, you must ask in writing - even if that is an email or text - and keep a copy.

If your landlord needs to get into the property to inspect it and do repairs, they should give you at least 24-hours written notice and arrange a suitable time to visit (unless there's an emergency).

You must allow them at least 14 days to let you know what they are going to do about the problems. If they don’t respond or their response isn’t satisfactory then it’s time to contact the council using the online reporting form.

The council will assess the issues found and if they present an unreasonable risk to health and safety then the council will take action to remedy those issues. Following the process of notifying your landlord in this way before contacting the council helps prevent a revenge eviction.