The accidental landlord: a solution for damp – try not breathing

Victoria Whitlock learns that granny wasn’t crazy for ‘airing’ her rooms – as a steamed-up tenant soon proves
Mould is never a good look for a room. It doesn’t work with any colour scheme and it isn’t one of the features renters usually look for in a property. So I was a bit put out when one of my younger tenants called to say there was a mouldy patch on the bedroom wall, just below the window.

Understandably, she was worried because mould can be a health hazard, especially in bedrooms. It can cause breathing problems and lung infections.

Initially I was quite offended that my property had gone mouldy, that it was rotting. How could this have happened? The flat had never had a problem with damp, and there had been no leakages.

However, all became clear when the tenant said the room couldn’t have got damp because she never opened the window. Ah-ha, that was the problem! Mould spores grow where there is moisture, and moisture builds up in rooms where there is poor ventilation. I know this because I Googled “mould” and found a ton of information on the internet.

I was quite alarmed to read that double-glazed, centrally heated properties, like mine, provide the perfect conditions for mould spores to grow. The sealed windows trap in the heat and block draughts, creating condensation. You can get as much as a pint overnight just from your breathing if you sleep with the windows closed.

Now I know why my gran insisted on “airing” her house every morning — she wasn’t crazy after all. Really, they ought to teach this sort of thing in schools, along with how to unblock a sink with a plunger. Never mind showing kids how to make bombs (or whatever they do teach them these days), lessons in home hygiene are what’s needed.

An inspection of my tenant’s bedroom revealed water pooling on the window sill, just above where the mould was growing. The fact that she never even opened the blind, leaving the room permanently dark, had evidently created an even better environment for the mould to grow. It had spread unnoticed behind a rucksack she’d left leaning against the wall.

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