How can a landlord ensure a rental property is adequately ventilated?

Property Clinic: Do housing regulations require landlords to go to their property and open the windows?

How can a landlord “keep the property adequately ventilated” when they don’t live there? Lack of ventilation, experts say, is the main cause of mould. Do housing regulations require landlords to go to their property and open the windows on a regular basis? If so, how frequently do you recommend?

Inspections of rental properties find that ventilation related issues are among the top five problems. Concerns range from inadequate ventilation facilities provided by the landlord to poor ventilation and heating management by the tenant. Part 8 of the Housing Regulations 2019 (Standards for Rented Houses) refers to ventilation in a rented property. A landlord is required to provide their tenant with a property that has adequate ventilation and the information on how to use and maintain it.

A tenant is required to, but not limited to, maintain the ventilation in the property with the intended outcome of ensuring their comfort and good health while causing no harm to the property. Where a landlord has provided the appropriate facilities to adequately ventilate a property and the tenant actively operates these facilities, the issue of excessive condensation and mould should not arise, and this should result in maintaining a property to appropriate and safe standards.

The technical guidance documents’ ventilation section of the building regulations, last updated in 2020, provides further guidance on ventilating a property.

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There is a growing availability of wifi-enabled thermostats and hygrometers suitable for residential use to measure temperature and air humidity and this information can be recorded on relevant apps.

This innovation allows evidence-based information to be collated over a period of time and this can provide useful insights on property occupancy and humidity patterns. Knitting this resource into a rental agreement in the additional terms for the purposes of sharing useful data between a conscientious landlord and tenant can be an effective tool to avoid ventilation related issues.

The Residential Tenancies Board offers a free service to landlords which is voluntary, to help them ensure they are compliant. It runs a training course called BetterLet, designed to assist landlords understand the letting processes and their responsibilities within the regulatory framework.

Paul Huberman is a chartered property and facilities manager and a fellow of the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland

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