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Damp and mould expectations


We have seen complaints about damp and mould increase significantly in the past few years and called for a ‘zero tolerance’ approach. The inquest into the tragic death of two-year-old Awaab Ishak and widespread media reporting has pushed the issue to the top of the agenda.  

But what should landlords be doing to provide the best service possible for residents? And what should residents be doing and when should they be taking action? This document sets out the Ombudsman position on that. 

You can also read our full reports into damp and mould, as well as visiting our damp and mould key topic page, which rounds up all our materials on the subject including good practice case studies, podcasts and webinar recordings. 

Landlord guidance

  • Landlords should consider whether they require an overall framework, or policy, to address damp and mould which would cover each area where the landlord may be required to act. This would include any proactive interventions, its approach to diagnosis, actions it considers appropriate in different circumstances, effective communication and aftercare. 
  • As soon as a resident reports damp and mould, landlords should undertake appropriate investigations to determine the cause of damp and mould. 
  • Landlords should make sure inspections take place within timescales of its policy. 
  • When doing a damp and mould inspection, landlords should take a holistic approach and look at the history of the property to see if it has been a problem before. 
  • Landlords should be aware that damp and mould could be caused by other issues reported, for example leaks. 
  • This is where it is important that landlords have trained staff that know damp and mould – sometimes it is not enough to have a standard surveyor. 
  • If it is determined that it is being caused by problems with the fabric of the property, landlords should take thorough and effective steps to resolve the issues. 
  • Where the damp and mould is being caused by the resident’s use of the property that the resident cannot reasonably change (such as drying clothes) the landlord should work with the resident to provide solutions. 
  • If the inspection shows the home to be in a bad state or uninhabitable, landlords should consider a decant after conducting a health and safety risk assessment. 
  • Once a repair has been identified, landlords should make sure there is a clear appointment or survey booked in and that the resident is fully informed of that – to see more about the impact of missed appointments, look at our Knowledge and Information Management report. 
  • When landlords send contractors or operatives into the home, they need to be aware of what is going on in the property and what they are there to do – not having to leave due to not having the right tools or not being the right person for the job. 
  • Landlords should communicate with residents about what happens next and when. For example, the actions that can be taken following a mould wash. 
  • Landlords should make sure they treat residents reporting damp and mould with respect and empathy. The distress and inconvenience experienced by residents in this area is some of the most profound. 
  • Landlords need to make sure they are clear about when more action is needed. You should be going to the property and being proactive about the problem, rather than simply waiting for the resident to raise it again. 
  • Landlords should continue to use the complaints procedure when the pre-action protocol has commenced and until legal proceedings have been issued to maximise the opportunities to resolve disputes outside of court. Read our guidance on this topic. 
  • Landlords should make sure their approach is consistent with our jurisdiction guidance and their legal and complaint teams work together effectively where an issue is being pursued through the complaints process and protocol. 
  • Landlords should consider how to make homes fit for modern living. 
  • Regular communications and information about preventing damp and mould could be provided throughout tenancies with a follow up support offer. 
  • Landlords have a responsibility to look out for signs of damp and mould and report it, for example on tenancy visits from income officers or in the yearly gas check. 
  • Landlords should implement a data driven, risk-based approach with respect to damp and mould. This will reduce over reliance on residents to report issues, help landlords identify hidden issues and support landlords to anticipate and prioritise interventions before a complaint or disrepair claim is made. 
  • If there has been previous damp and mould issues in a home, landlords should use the void period to carry out preventative works. 
  • A multi-departmental response to this may also be needed if the problems with damp and mould are occurring from cost-of-living crisis or overcrowding. 

Resident guidance

Read the above landlord expectations and hold them to account against these. 

  • Landlords should be inspecting your home if you report damp and mould being present and do so within policy timescales set out to you. 
  • Residents should try and reduce condensation where they can in the home – but if you are worried about the building not being suitable then to raise it with the landlord. 
  • When telling your landlord and the Ombudsman about your damp and mould issues you should clearly detail what rooms it is present in and whether it is spreading or not. 
  • It is important to report whether you reported this problem before or if it is the first time. 
  • The Ombudsman is unable to award damages for the impact on a residents’ health or belongings, that is for the insurance companies – but we can award compensation for the distress and inconvenience following landlord failure. 

Helpful information for residents

Reporting a problem

Making sure that you tell your landlord about the problem in a timely way and providing the right information might help your landlord to resolve the issue sooner.

Find out how to report a problem (opens in a new tab)

How to complain to your landlord

Discover how to let your landlord know if things have gone wrong in your home and how to make a complaint if you are unhappy with how it has handled a report you have made to it.

How to complain to your landlord (opens in a new tab)