• Mon. Jul 22nd, 2024

Edinburgh students face increasing issue with mould

ByLucy Frewin

Mar 14, 2023

Students at the University of Edinburgh are facing increasing problems with mould and dampness in both private and university owned accommodation.

Whilst mould and damp are not uncommon in old buildings, negligent landlords and the cost-of-living crisis have worsened the situation.

Many students have been left living in damp, mouldy accommodation that poses a severe health risk.

One student experienced mould whilst living in a flat rented by the University of Edinburgh’s letting management service Domus.

They described how their flatmate suffered from a ‘constant chest infection’, likely as a result of both the bathroom and bedroom being ‘full of mould.’

Condensation from excess moisture is the most common cause of damp and mould in rental properties.

It often occurs as a result of poor ventilation, faulty heating systems or water seeping in from a leaky pipe or the roof.

According to the NHS, mould produces allergens, irritants and sometimes toxic substances that when inhaled or touched can frequently result in respiratory illnesses, skin rashes and asthma attacks.

The student in the Domus flat added that when the issue of damp was brought to the University’s attention, they were told there was ‘very little they could do.’

Domus advised them to keep the windows and doors open to ventilate the property.

However, this solution is not accessible to many students due to rising energy bills and the cost-of-living crisis.

Increasingly, many students are taking the decision to keep their windows shut in order to retain heat and save money on energy.

Closing windows limits the airflow in the property, making mould growth more likely.

Where ventilation is not possible, alternative solutions to tackle damp and mould are available to landlords and accommodation providers.

These include the use of exhaust fans, dehumidifiers and fixing faults in the building that may be the cause of the problem.

Under Section 11 of the Landlord and Tenants Act (1985), damp and mould problems in rental properties have to be addressed by the landlord.

This applies in cases where the tenant’s health and safety are affected or where the problem has been caused by a fault within the property.

However, student testimonies demonstrate that landlords and accommodation providers frequently appear to be negligent in their treatment of mould.

This results in students having to limit activities such as laundry and often having their possessions damaged.

Two students, who both lived in flats owned by accommodation provider Unite Students, described their experiences with mould.

Whilst Unite was quick to respond and clean the mould, little investigation was carried out into the cause and no ventilation equipment was provided, resulting in a recurrence of the issue.

In light of the increased mould problems faced by tenants across Scotland, organisations including the Scottish Housing Regulator wrote to all landlords in December 2022.

They urged landlords to consider the systems they have in place to ensure all homes are not affected by recurring mould and dampness.

Image via Lucy Frewin