WTF Is This Crap (New Government Landlord Guide On Mould)?


When the Government first announced the Renters Reform Bill, which includes the proposal to abolish the Section 21 ‘no fault’ notice, I think it was a reminder to many of us that we’re being led by a desperate party that needs to win votes.


That in itself isn’t terrible or unsurprising, but it is pretty psychotic when the desire to win takes precedence over fairness, statistical data, common sense, expert views, and even science.

Today, I present to you yet another prime example of how, in my view, the Government has lost its bloody mind: their recently published guide on Understanding and addressing the health risks of damp and mould in the home.

It’s a pretty long and meandering read, which, in all fairness, contains some pretty useful and practical information on how to prevent and manage mould in rental properties.


However – and this is what crawled up my snout and left behind the residual taste of horse manure – they’ve taken an unequivocal view that completely relinquishes tenants from being responsible for dampness and mould in a home.

In a sea of otherwise sound advice, this delusional take sticks out like a sore bell-end, and now it’s all I can see.

Regrettably, to quote the powers that be,


As this guidance also makes clear, tenants should not be blamed for damp and mould.

We are absolutely clear that it is totally unreasonable to blame damp and mould in the home on ‘lifestyle choices’


‘Cause we all know it’s fictional nonsense.

I wouldn’t be surprised if their source is: “trust me, bro”

How about, err, NO?

This kind of thinking has all the classic hallmarks of politicians doing politician things (probably while coked-up to the tits during a backroom Backgammon charity event).

How I know tenants can be responsible for mould

1) Experience

I’ve lived through it. I’ve seen it through my own tormented eyes. And so have many of you.

Have we all got it wrong? Are we all lying?

I’ve had a rental property for 15’ish years, and during that time I’ve had 5 different tenants roll through.

Tenant 1 was a DSS tenant. She was decent enough for the most part. Unfortunately she turned out to be a livewire at the end of the tenancy, when I notified her that I was going to deduct a small amount from the deposit to fix a door that was severely damaged during her tenure. The news went down like a lead balloon. Watching her flip over such a binary issue was rather quite bizarre.

Tenant 2 had a dog that shat all over the place. I didn’t even know he had a dog until after the fact. I’m just glad I had laminate flooring. But other than not, no problems.

Tenant 3 was a medical surgeon at the local hospital, and he was filthy as fuck. I remember doing an inspection and finding the entire kitchen coated in congealed grease. It was a mortifying discovery given his profession.

If it’s a choice between imminent death and having him operate on me, yes, I’d let him get to work, but I’d be distraught that he touched me. Even if he saved my life.

But not one of them had issues with dampness or mould.

Tenant 4, now they were an unforgettable duo consisting of total wallies.

They dried their wet clothes on the bathroom and bedroom radiators without properly ventilating (e.g. opening doors, windows and running the extractor fan).

I want to say their “lifestyle choices” caused mould outbreaks (directly on the walls and ceilings below where the radiators were located) but apparently that would be wrong of me.

The tenants’ didn’t actually report the issue to me, instead they decided to paint over the mould, thinking it was not only a reasonable solution to a potentially very serious health and safety risk, but also a clever way of hiding it from me.

Tenants Painted Over Mould

Needless to say, these knuckle-heads’ weren’t running the risk of winning any prizes for intelligence any time soon.

Tenant 5 has been an occupant for the past 6 years, and they have been wonderful, and so far no signs of mould.

If Tenant 4 isn’t the perfect example that demonstrates how it’s entirely possible for tenants to be responsible for dampness and mould then I’m officially a monkey’s uncle.

It’s actually disturbing that I have to articulate my experience to make such an obvious point.

By all accounts, according to the Government’s own logic, no one at all in society should be blamed or held responsible for mould outbreaks (unless it’s down to an overdue maintenance issue). So, for example, if I choose to leave wet flannels lying around in my own residential home and it causes mould, I shouldn’t blame myself – it ain’t my fault! But who is my punch bag?

Did they even think this through, for like, one second?

2) I call Daniel Barnett, LBC’s resident Barrister, to the stand

Daniel Barnett probably doesn’t remember this, but I certainly do, and boy am I glad.

Back in 2015, a tenant called into Daniel’s “legal hour” show on LBC radio station, to share her ongoing issue with mould in her rental property, which resulted in Daniel sharing his thoughts on who is responsible for mould in rental properties.

To quote my boy Daniel,

Generally landlords are responsible for damp if it’s caused by leaky pipes or structural defects going wrong, but the tenant will be responsible if it’s caused by condensation because of lack of ventilation, not keeping windows open or inadequate heating…

Here’s the full clip:

This seems to completely contradict the Government’s take. Daniel is, quite clearly, implying that lifestyle choices can cause dampness (obviously we didn’t need a barrister to confirm the obvious, but it helps).

I’m presuming that how we understand mould today – its biological properties and behaviour – hasn’t changed since 2015, right?

That’s what I thought.

There’s no legal precedent to support the Government’s ludicrous take, but I find it interesting that they have the gall to take the position they have and say it out loud. It’s so silly.

3) WTF is this shit?

Interestingly, after the following is stated:

We are absolutely clear that it is totally unreasonable to blame damp and mould in the home on ‘lifestyle choices’.

This is stated:

However, it may be beneficial to work with tenants to help them make small, reasonable adjustments to their behaviour, if appropriate, to reduce their damp and mould risk.

Wait, what? Surely they’re taking the piss now? Have they just stuck a drunk at the wheel and said, “have at it”?

Forget for a moment that they’re actually asking us to provide our tenants’ with life lessons on how to live (I mean, seriously?), but if – by their own admission – it is totally unreasonable to blame damp and mould in the home on “lifestyle choices”, then why would it be beneficial for landlords to work with tenants to make small “behavioural” changes to reduce the risk?

You can’t have it both ways.

Well, I ‘spose you can if you’re the Government.

(20 peanuts goes to the first person that can explain to me what the difference in meaning is between “lifestyle” and “behavioural” changes in this context, because they seem to be making a distinction.)

I’m not sitting on the naughty-step!

The Government’s guide was a direct response to the Coroner’s report to the tragic death of 2-year-old Awaab Ishak in 2020, due to mould in his family home, which was notably a social housing home.

I’ve been vocal in the past about the gigantic gap between health and safety regulations for social housing and private landlords, and how it’s criminal. Social housing is a complete joke. If they were made to abide by just 25% of the regulations the private rental sector is, they would be bankrupt within a week.

Absolutely horrifying what happened to Awaab.

But the Gov’s new and revised position on the matter is painfully mystifying; it looks like they’ve wheeled out yet another haphazard and shameless policy, seemingly from the back of a flea market. No quality control, just a heavy-handed approach that will superficially appease the larger side of the aisle, and they don’t even care if it defies logic.

One thing is for sure, if my tenant is taking scalding hot showers and leaving wet clothes lying around, while not properly ventilating, I sure as hell ain’t sitting on the naughty step.

You can definitely trust me on that, bro!

I wouldn’t die of shock if the mould expert that approved and signed off on this idea is hiding in the same place as the industry expert that believes abolishing S21 is a balanced idea. So don’t be surprised if neither is ever found.

To clarify, I fully understand that some landlords provide properties in terrible conditions that are conducive to mould growth, and those landlords should definitely be responsible for any necessary repairs and held accountable for negligence. But to take the position that “tenants should not be blamed for damp and mould” and “lifestyle choices” can’t be responsible is, quite simply, totally unreasonable. It really doesn’t help.

Hit me with your best tenant induced mould story!

Landlord out xo

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