Image by Craig Whitehead - a man wipes condensation from a window

There is condensation in my flat

Condensation is a common problem in tower blocks, and it can add to issues with mould or damp.

You’ll notice water on the inside of your windows, especially on colder days. If the problem is serious, there might be peeling paint or black mould on the walls and ceilings.

What causes condensation?

Condensation happens when warm air with a high moisture content (like the air inside your flat) hits cold surfaces (like the windows).

Living causes condensation Showers and baths, central heating, drying wet laundry indoors, large fish tanks, boiling kettles and cooking — even just people breathing — all add to the moisture content of air in your flat. 

Buildings cause condensation The construction of your block can play a part. In blocks where windows are sealed or kept closed most of the time, there is nowhere for the air to get in and out, and the moisture collects as condensation.

Good building design will incorporate extractor fans to remove the moist air, and windows that can be opened a little whenever needed. 

There is also some benefit from keeping a constant temperature in your flat, rather than having bursts of heat in the day and a colder period in the night. 

What does the law say?

Your landlord’s responsibilities

The relevant law is the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985, section 11. Your landlord is responsible for keeping the exterior and structure of your flat in good repair. So, if the condensation is caused by disrepair, they must fix it. 

The way the law is written means that if the issue is caused by the design of your building, rather than by disrepair, this will not apply.   

But your landlord must also ensure that your flat is ‘fit for habitation‘. So if the condensation is leading to mould or damp and that is likely to make, or is making you ill, they must do something about it. 

The law is set out in the Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2018.

In addition, the Housing Health and Safety Rating System, introduced under the Housing Act 2004, lists potential hazards that landlords must address, including mould and damp.

Also see the ‘further information’ section below.

Your responsibilities

It is worth thinking about your own activities or changes you have made to the flat. If they are causing the condensation, it may be your responsibility to fix it. 

For example, if you have blocked a source of ventilation, or are regularly drying wet laundry in a closed room, your landlord is not responsible — and you may, in some cases, be breaking your tenancy agreement.

What action can I take?

  • Keep a record of the problem. Take photos and date them, so you can prove how long the issue has been going on, if needed. 
  • If the condensation is leading to mould or damp, see this page for more details on what to do.
  • Contact your landlord to tell them of the problem.

Not sure what to write? You can copy this letter.

Meanwhile:

  • Keep windows open and ensure good ventilation.
  • If possible, don’t dry your washing indoors. Use a washing line or communal drying area, or put an airer on your balcony.
  • Use a dehumidifier.
  • Move furniture a little way away from walls so the air can circulate behind.

Further information

  • The Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2018 amended the law which was already set out in the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985, so you might need to look at section 9A to 10 of the 1985 Act for the basic detail that underlies the current rules. The Housing Health and Safety Rating System can be enforced by you through the Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2018 or by Environmental Health unless your landlord is the local authority.

    Even if your landlord is the local authority, there is a duty on the local housing authority (LHA) under the Housing Act 2004 to keep housing conditions in their area under review with a view to identifying any action that may need to be taken by them under the Act (section 3(1)).

    Any deficiencies identified will contribute to a hazard under the Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS). This does not exclude the LHA’s own property.

Related guides

Image by Andrew Buchananan - paint flaking off a wall Image by Andrew Buchananan - paint flaking off a wall

Guide

There’s damp or mould in my flat

Damp and mould do more than ruin the look of your flat: they can also cause health problems. It is your landlord’s responsibility under law to ensure that your home is safe to live in.
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Tools you can use

Contacting your landlord

Tips and letter templates to help you communicate with your landlord when there’s something wrong, or you want to find out more.
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Tools you can use

Starting or joining a Residents’ Association or an Action Group

Joining together with other residents in your block or community can make you much more powerful.
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Contacting your local councillor or MP

Your elected representatives, like MPs and Councillors, can help you with your housing issues. Here’s information on how to get in touch.
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Tools you can use

Making a formal complaint

If you have made a request to your landlord and you’re not getting results, then what can you do next to get things fixed?

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