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Condensation, damp and mould in temporary accommodation

Condensation is one of the most common causes of mould growth and is caused by a combination of excess moisture in the air and poor ventilation. 

Effects of excess moisture

When excess moisture lands on cold surfaces such as windows and walls that, if left, can turn into black mould and have an unpleasant odour.

When more severe, condensation and mould can affect walls, or it even may soak into wallpaper, paintwork and furniture. It can often be found in corners of rooms where there is little airflow. Damp and mould is more likely to be a problem in the cold winter months.

Types of damp

There are different types of damp and that can lead to mould growth:

  • Leaks and penetrating damp: this can be caused by water leaking through internal damaged pipework, a failed stopcock or via faulty bath/window seals. Penetrating damp is a result of external moisture entering the home through its external structure and is made worse during periods of heavy rainfall. This is often a result of gaps in brickwork, roof or windows, and if there are structural issues (e.g. broken guttering, roof defects or window frames)
  • Rising damp: this is mainly seen in basement level and ground floor properties, with moisture rising from the earth effecting flooring, plaster, wallpaper and skirting boards which is caused by a defective or non-existent damp proof membrane. Rising damp is likely to occur throughout the year but will be more prominent during colder months.

How to prevent condensation and mould

The following steps can help:

Heat your home

Damp and mould is more likely to occur in the cold winter months, so it is important to try to maintain a warm environment - constant low heating is better than extreme hot and cold.

The occurrence of damp and mould may be also exacerbated due to the current fuel and cost of living crisis as residents struggle to meet the high cost of heating their homes. If you are worried about the cost of living crisis and would like some advice and support visit the Cost of Living Hub, which contains information on the support that is available for residents.  

Keep your home ventilated

The single most important step is to ensure good ventilation, especially in kitchens and bathrooms. Open windows slightly, use an extractor fan when using these rooms and do not cover air vents. These steps will help to direct moisture outside the house and prevent condensation in your home.

Close kitchen and bathroom doors when these rooms are in use to prevent steam escaping into colder rooms.

Reduce moisture levels

To reduce moisture levels in your home:

  • Dry clothes outside, if possible, use a condenser tumble dryer or make sure the air vent goes outside
  • Cover pans when cooking
  • Open windows when running a bath/showering
  • Clear windowsills of clutter so it's easier to open windows
  • Leave a gap between furniture and walls

Vacuum regularly

Vacuuming helps to remove mould spores and dust. Mould feeds on dust. Do not brush sills etc, as this spreads spores.

Remove excess moisture

Wipe windows and sills with a clean dry cloth each morning to remove any water that has settled overnight.

If you already have condensation and mould 

If you already have condensation and mould in your home, there are things you can do to avoid it getting worse.


Use a dry cloth to wipe away moisture from windows, sills, mirrors or walls each morning.

Removing small mould patches

You should always first contact us if mould patches begin to develop in your temporary accommodation so that we can arrange removal of the mould and investigate the cause. However, if you do decide to remove mould yourself, make sure you wear gloves and follow these steps:

  • Wash the mould growths with bleach and water (one part bleach to four parts water)
  • Clean with a mould spray (fungicidal spray)
  • Leave surfaces to dry with plenty of ventilation
  • Do not reuse cloths infected with mould/spores as this will spread the problem

If you need help with damp and mould

If you are in temporary accommodation that has been provided by Richmond Council and the property has damp and mould, you should immediately contact the Property Management team by:

If you are in other types of temporary accommodation that is not managed by the Council's Property Management team, then refer to our temporary accommodation webpage.

After you have reported the issue

Once you have reported a problem to us, arrangements will be made for any mould to be removed and the property will be inspected by a housing officer who is trained to inspect, diagnose and advise on repair options for damp and mould cases, and will attend all inspections with the relevant testing equipment.

The housing officer will also provide detailed advice about how to reduce and prevent condensation, damp and mould in the property and, if repairs are needed, the housing officer will give a breakdown of what the repairs involve and how soon they are likely to be completed.

After the repairs have been undertaken you will be contacted by the housing officer to ensure that the repairs were completed to a satisfactory standard. If there is a re-occurrence of damp and mould, you should contact the Property Management team so that any mould can be immediately removed, and the problem will be investigated further.

If you are a social housing or private tenant

If you are a tenant of a registered provider of social housing then contact your housing association immediately if you are experiencing problems with condensation, damp or mould.

If you are renting privately, you need to first contact your landlord or managing agent if you experience problems with condensation, damp or mould. View privately rented properties for further information on the tenants and landlords responsibilities.

Housing Ombudsman

If a complaint has been made to the Council then the Council will always work with you to resolve the matter as fast as possible and will endeavour to ensure the best outcome for you.

If however you feel your complaint is not being dealt with effectively, you have a right to escalate your complaint straight to the Housing Ombudsman:

Up to: Housing

Updated: 03 April 2023

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