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Dealing with damp and mould

Damp and mould can affect your health, especially if you have asthma, allergies or respiratory problems. The NHS has more information on how damp and mould affects your health.

If you rent your home, your landlord must do repairs to prevent damp and mould. Get help from the council’s environmental health team if your landlord will not deal with it.

Your landlord’s responsibilities

Your landlord should deal with damp or mould caused by structural or repair problems, including:

  • leaks in the roof

  • cracks or holes in walls

  • rotting window or door frames

  • lack of ventilation or poor ventilation in your home

  • water coming into your home from the ground

To help prevent damp and mould, your landlord must also make sure your home has an adequate heating system.

If you rent privately, this must be a fixed heating system that's plumbed in or hard wired. It cannot just be a plug-in or portable heater.

Getting your landlord to deal with damp and mould

Report damp, mould and all repairs to your landlord.

Your landlord should do the repairs and deal with damp and mould in a reasonable amount of time. There is usually no set time for the repairs to be done.

You can tell your landlord what you think is reasonable and then ask them to agree to it.

To decide what you think is reasonable, ask yourself:

  • whether it’s an emergency

  • what effect it’s having on you

  • how long is fair and realistic for your landlord to fix the problem

You must report the issue to your landlord as soon as you find a problem.

If you have a private tenancy, follow our guidance on reporting repairs if you rent from a private landlord or letting agent.

If you have a social tenancy, follow our guidance on reporting repairs if you rent from the council or a housing association.

If your landlord will not deal with it

Contact the council’s environmental health team when you rent from:

  • a private landlord

  • a letting agent

  • a housing association

Use our letter template for contacting environmental health to help you know what to say.

Environmental health can help when your landlord will not deal with damp and mould that is affecting your health. They can inspect your home and order your landlord to put it right.

If you rent from the council and they will not deal with it

You may have to go to court to force the council to do the work. This is called an abatement order.

Taking the council to court for repairs

Your responsibilities

Check for signs of damp and mould. These can be:

  • a damp and musty smell

  • mould or mildew on walls, floors or ceilings

  • walls, floors or ceilings that feel cold or damp

  • dark or discoloured patches on walls or plaster

  • lifting or peeling wallpaper

  • excessive condensation on windows

Preventing damp and mould

Cooking, showering and drying clothes creates extra moisture in your home.

To reduce this, it helps to:

  • cover pans when cooking

  • use extractor fans in kitchens and bathrooms

  • close internal doors when you cook or shower

  • dry clothes outdoors or use a vented tumble dryer

  • open bedroom windows for 5 to 10 minutes when you get up

Heating your home a little also helps. A low temperature of at least 15 degrees in all rooms can prevent damp and mould.

If you're struggling to heat your home, contact Home Energy Scotland for advice and support.

Last updated: 1 March 2024

Housing laws differ between Scotland and England.

This content applies to Scotland only.

Get advice if you're in England