It’s important that your home is warm. If your home isn’t warm enough you could end up getting sick and you might start to see damp and mould appearing in your home.
There are some things you can do to prevent mould. But your landlord may need to take action if there is damp that is getting worse.
Damp and mould
Most mould in properties in Northern Ireland is caused by condensation. Condensation can happen if your home:
- isn’t warm enough
- isn’t ventilated properly
- has poor insulation
- has a faulty heating system
The only way to avoid mould from condensation is to try to stop the condensation happening. You can do this by:
- drying clothes outdoors if possible
- covering saucepans when cooking
- opening bedroom windows after getting up
- using extractor fans in kitchens and bathrooms
If you see mould in your home you should:
- clean walls and windows using a fungicidal wash
- paint over it with a fungicidal paint
- report the issue to your landlord
Reporting problems to your landlord
If you've taken action to prevent condensation but mould continues to come back, you should contact your landlord.
Write to your landlord and tell them about:
- where the mould is appearing
- what steps you've taken to prevent it
- any impact this is having on your health
- any damage to furniture or belongings
Your landlord should inspect the property and carry out repairs in a reasonable time.
Making sure your home is fit to live in
Your home must be safe and meet basic fitness standards.
Contact your local council if you've reported the problem to your landlord and:
- your landlord doesn't take action, or
- the mould keeps coming back despite your landlord's attempts to fix the problem, or
- you think there is damp caused by a structural problem
Ask the council's environmental health department to inspect the property. They don't charge private or social tenants for a fitness inspection. An environmental health officer can determine the cause of the mould.
If the property does not meet basic fitness standards, the council can serve your landlord with an official notice obliging them to carry out repairs within a set timeframe.
Help with heating your home
There are different schemes available in Northern Ireland which can help you make your home warmer and more efficient. Some of these schemes are only available for homeowners and for people who rent their homes from private landlords.
If your Housing Executive property suffers from serious problems with dampness, mould and condensation, you should ask your maintenance manager about the cavity wall insulation in the property to ensure that it is in reasonable condition.
Contact NI Energy Advice for advice on heating your home and grants that you may be able to apply for.
Grants to help
Each year the Utility Regulator publishes a list of grants to help people with the cost of improving the energy efficiency of their homes. Some of the grants are for private tenants and homeowners while others are for housing association tenants. You can get updates on the funding that is available by contacting the free NI Energy Advice service.
Affordable warmth scheme
Homeowners and people who rent from a private landlord may be able to get help from the Affordable Warmth Grant. This is a targeted scheme, which means most of the properties that are eligible for help will have been identified by the council. If you haven't received a letter about the scheme, contact your council's Building Control department to find out if you can apply for help.
If you’re a private tenant you’ll need to get your landlord’s permission before any work can be done in the property and your landlord will have to pay 50% of the cost of any Affordable Warmth improvements.
Boiler replacement scheme
Some homeowners can get help from the Boiler Replacement Scheme. This is a scheme which can help with the costs of:
- a new oil or gas boiler
- switching heating from oil to gas or
- switching to a wood pellet boiler
You have to own your home to apply for this scheme. You’ll also have to show that:
- your income is less than £40,000 and
- your boiler is over 15 years old and is inefficient
The amount of money that you will get depends on your income. If your household income is less than £20,000 the basic grant is £700. This will increase to £1000 if you have to install controls as well as a boiler.
If you earn between £20,000 and £40,000 the boiler grant will be £400, rising to £500 if controls need to be installed.
You are free to choose your own installer. Where the engineer is working with gas, they must be a registered Gas Safe engineer. If you are installing a new boiler, you must apply to your local council for Building Control approval. The Building Control fee will not be covered by the grant.
Call 0300 200 7874 to find out more about this grant or email the Housing Executive to let them know you’re interested in finding out more. Read the Housing Executive's step by step guide on how to apply.
Maintaining a safe temperature in your home reduces the risk of illness. Try to keep your main living area at a temperature between 18 and 21 degrees. Make sure your bedroom is warm before you go to bed at night and set the timer on your heating system so your heat comes on before you get up in the morning.
If you use an electric blanket or heater, make sure you follow the necessary safety measures and unplug these before you go to sleep.
Some people switch off radiators in rooms that they don’t use. You can do this, but remember to turn radiators back on in good time if you intend using the room. Circulating warm air through your house and attic greatly reduces the risk of frozen and burst pipes, so don’t leave heat off permanently.