COUNCIL house tenants in Swansea need to ensure their properties are ventilated as part of a new damp and mould policy.
They must also report any signs of damp and mould, and the council will aim to inspect the property within five working days. Any remedial work will be done within 20 days of the inspection, where practical.
The damp and mould policy was approved by the council’s cabinet at a meeting on January 18, although Cllr Andrea Lewis said it was retrospective in many respects because of the work she said the authority had done to tackle the problem since 2022.
Cllr Lewis, cabinet member for service transformation, said damp and mould reports from tenants were currently lower than in 2022, which she attributed to the work carried out.
Council leader Rob Stewart said of the new policy: “It’s a really important issue and it will reassure tenants that we do take this work seriously.”
All social housing providers in Wales, including councils with their own housing stock, must publish a damp and mould policy. Well-maintained homes should be free from penetrating and rising damp, leaving condensation as the only other cause.
Condensation occurs when there is excessive humidity inside a property. The humidity condenses into droplets when it makes contact with cold surfaces like windows. This means it’s usually a winter problem as houses tend to be colder and windows opened less frequently. Mould spores grow and thrive in damp conditions.
Drying clothes on radiators, cooking without lids on pans, and having baths or showers in unventilated rooms all add to moisture levels, as does closing window trickle vents.
The new policy said elderly people, children, and those with existing health problems were most at risk of damp and mould-related health issues.
It added: “Increasing levels of fuel poverty due to high energy costs can prevent the adequate heating of many homes during winter, leading to an increase in condensation and indoor dampness.”
There are more than 13,000 council houses and flats in Swansea. Last October a mother in Waunarlwydd claimed she had battling mould in her council flat for more than eight years. Demi-Lee Bevan, of Caergynydd Road, said she was worried that it was affecting the health of her nine and two-year-old sons. She said she’d had to throw out toys, pillows and other items. “I can’t afford to keep going out and replacing that stuff just for it to get ruined again,” she said.
The council said it was continuing to help Ms Bevan with the issues she’d raised, and that mould treatment work had recently been completed. It said new window panes would be added soon and the ventilation system serviced.