We receive many calls throughout the autumn and winter months regarding the development of mildew in properties and have therefore produced the following information to assist tenants in preventing this problem as in nearly every case where mildew development is reported as a problem we find that the cause is due to ‘lifestyle’.
Mildew is generally caused by a build-up of condensation and stale air. Condensation occurs where moist air comes into contact with air, or a surface, which is at a lower temperature.
Air contains water vapour in varying quantities, its capacity to do so is related to its temperature – warm air holds more moisture than cold air. When moist air comes into contact with either colder air or a colder surface, the air is unable to retain the same amount of moisture and the water is released to form condensation in the air or on the surface. If the moist air is allowed to ‘escape’ out of the house condensation will not form on surfaces.
The moisture in the air comes from a number of sources within the house. Water vapour is produced in relatively large quantities from normal day to day activities – a 5 person household puts about 10 kg of water into the air every day i.e.
-breathing (asleep) 0.3 kg
-breathing (awake) 0.85 kg
-cooking 3 kg
-personal washing 1.0 kg
-washing and drying clothes 5.5 kg – every time one load of washing is dried indoors!
-(1 kg of water equates to about 1 litre)
Condensation is generally noticeable where it forms on non-absorbent surfaces (i.e. windows or tiles) but it will form on any surface and it may not be noticed until mould growth or rotting of material occurs. Classic examples of areas developing mildew are behind wardrobes and beds. These articles are constantly absorbing moisture and it is therefore wise to move them slightly away from walls to allow air to circulate and minimize condensation.
The effect of moisture generation is made worse by keeping the moist air in the house – it is possible to avoid condensation by adequate heating and ventilation. Usually in certain areas of a house (such as bathrooms and kitchens) the warm air contains a lot of moisture, if that air then spreads to cooler parts of the house, it will condense on any colder surface.
If you do dry washing indoors you MUST provide adequate ventilation to allow the condensation produced to escape.
In most cases where we have received reports of mildew in houses we have found, during routine visits and inspections, that no windows have been opened! We do appreciate many of the reasons given for not having windows open but we cannot emphasise enough that ventilation is the key to condensation prevention and we suggest that if you develop a routine whereby when individuals are in the house at differing times they ensure that windows are opened during occupation and secured if the house is to be left vacant. Another most important fact is that an individual does not have to be residing in a room for condensation to form. If other people are in the house a vacant room will still develop condensation. Equally when the house is totally vacated e.g. for holiday periods, if condensation has not been minimized before departure mildew will develop. Keeping a house sensibly heated will reduce the amount of cold surfaces on which condensation can form.
One of the main issues we discuss with households experiencing high levels of condensation ergo mildew is how much energy should be being consumed when considering adequate heating. When we are asked by incoming student tenants or their guarantors how much will the energy costs for a house be we advise that each member of the household allows £10 per week to cover utilities, gas and/or electricity and water. This figure is based over a 52 week period – when calculating how much you are spending you must consider that you will use more energy in the winter than the summer months and therefore £10 each per week should be based on this i.e. money over in the summer months will/should be spent in the winter months. This level of expenditure together with the provision of adequate ventilation as described on Page 1 will provide a comfortable living environment where mildew is kept to a minimum.
Other facts that you must take into account are how many guests you may have in the house – consider the figures of water vapour above.
We trust that throughout your tenancy we will demonstrate that we wish to work with you to ensure any problems you experience within your property will be dealt with as quickly and efficiently as possible. However, it is very difficult for us to help you if you do not help yourselves.
Patches of mildew that do develop on walls/ceilings, in tile grout and bath seals can easily be cleaned away by the use of a proprietary mildew remover such as Dettox Mould & Mildew remover This product can be purchased at most supermarkets.
1. If I see a property I like, how do I book a viewing?
Viewings for all of our properties are by appointment only and must be arranged through our office. We carry out block viewings which fall on the same day/time each week. We have to give regard to the current tenants and ensure disruption is kept to a minimum, therefore at least 24 hours notice must be given to current tenants.
2. How do I go about securing a property?
Once you have chosen your property you will be required to call the office and express your interest. As several groups may want to take the same property we will place ‘names in a hat’ and pick at random; this the fairest way we can choose a group. You will then be required to fill in a Student Tenant Details Form HERE and pay a non-refundable application fee of £150, which can be paid by cash, card or bank transfer (Account Number: 20980404 Sort Code: 20-87-94) at our office or over the phone (01326 315000).
3. Why am I not required pay a deposit?
Quite simply to make the set up fees less costly for you.
4. Do I need a guarantor?
A guarantor is required for all student tenants which guarantees rent payment for the duration of your tenancy. You will need to specify a guarantor when filling in your student tenants details form and they will automatically receive a copy of your form once completed by you which will then submit through to our email once completed by your guarantor. We will then produce contracts from these forms which will be sent to your guarantor for their signatures. You will not be allowed to move into the property until contracts are returned and signed.
5. What happens with regards to the utility charges?
Rent is inclusive of utilities, which include Electric, Gas, Water, Broadband, TV License in the communal area only and contents insurance (does not include portable items such as laptop or mobile phone).
6. As students do we need to pay council tax?
Full time students are currently exempt from council tax but in order to qualify an exemption certificate must be provided to the council tax office if required. If you are a first year student you will not be exempt until your course actually starts and should therefore be aware that you will be liable for council tax from when your contract starts until the start date of your course. Similarly, if you change course, starting a new course in the new academic year, the council will not consider you exempt again until your new course starts. Please note that if any tenants drop out of their course becoming non-students, they are liable for paying council tax for the whole property, not just their share of it.
7. How do I pay my rental?
Payments may be made by bank transfer, debit card payment or cash. Rental during the months of July, August and September (where applicable) may be paid monthly on the 1st of the month. Thereafter rental payments should be made quarterly in advance on 1st October, 1st January and 1st April. Any late rental payments will be subject to a charge of 6% per annum as stated in the tenancy contracts.
8. What happens at the stage where we move into the property we have taken?
On the day your contract starts you should come to our office to sign the contracts and collect your keys to the property between 10am and 5pm. At this time we will require your first rental payment. If you are unable to visit our office on the day of your contract starting you may come in on any weekday thereafter between 9am and 5pm. You must however arrange to make your rental payment on the day your contract starts. Please note that it is not our policy to post or issue keys on your behalf as all contracts must be signed by the tenant on the day of key issue. We will try to ensure that all properties are handed over in a clean/tidy condition at the start of tenancy, however please be aware that in most cases previous tenants may only have vacated on 30th June and therefore tenants with contracts starting on 3rd July may have cleaning and maintenance being carried out around them. We will try to keep this to a minimum.
9. How would we get rid of our rubbish?
Waste collection is carried out in Falmouth and Penryn on a Tuesday – Please check this website for more details HERE. It is the responsibility of each householder to ensure that their waste is suitably contained and placed at the edge of the property. The waste should not be placed out on the highway until 7:00am on the day of collection, otherwise the resident may face a fly tipping charge. Recycling should be put out fortnightly with your waste collection. Any build up will be arranged for removal and charged to you. In the interests of hygiene it is imperative that refuse/household waste is put out for collection. For information on waste and recycling collections please visit the Cornwall Council website; www.cornwall.gov.uk
10. Can I use the open fire if my house has one?
Open fires should not be used as this will invalidate your landlords building insurance.
11. Are there any other precautions I should take?
• Smoke detectors should In accordance with Fire Safety Regulations be tested in the property at least once a month. Should any detector appear to be faulty you should report this to our office.
• We would ask that if you use fairy lights or similar in the property you must ensure that these are safe, e.g. will not pose any fire risk or hazard.
• No candles to be used at any time, as per your contract.
• No smoking is permitted in any of our properties.
12. What happens if we have a maintenance issue in our flat/house?
Should you experience any maintenance problems at any time during your tenancy please telephone/email our office. Issues such as leaks, appliance breakdowns, and electrical faults should be reported to us immediately by telephone. During out of office hours a message may be left on our answerphone. (Office Hours: Mon – Fri 9am – 5pm). A number of property’s central heating systems are currently covered by a maintenance contract with Blue Flame please inquire if this is the case for your property. Should you experience any breakdown requiring urgent attention out of office hours please telephone 01326 378122.
13. What happens if I lose my key or lock myself out of my flat/house?
Locking yourself out of your property or losing your keys is not classed as an emergency. You will be able to obtain a copy of your key from our office by paying a £10 deposit which we will refund once keys have been returned.
14. Would the Landlord or Agent carry out any inspections throughout our tenancy?
A representative of Townsend Accommodation Ltd will visit the property on a monthly basis to carry out an inspection of the condition of the property to ensure that the terms of your tenancy agreements are being adhered to. The date of the inspection will be notified to you, in writing. At this time please feel free to discuss any issues arising that you may be concerned about and we will do our best to resolve matters. Cleaning guidelines and Mould/mildew information can be found on our website.
15. What happens if any damage is caused to the property by the tenants?
If the property requires maintenance work to be carried out on it that has been caused by the tenants and it is the tenants fault, this will be invoiced to the tenants(s) immediately after the works have been carried out. Payment is to be made direct to Townsend Accommodation.
16. What happens when we need to move out of the property?
It is very important that the properties are handed back to us at the end of the tenancy in a clean and undamaged state. A cleaning guideline sheet will be sent out to all tenants near the end of their tenancy. If the property has been left clean and maintenance-free we will not pursue any court action for costs.
We are now including, gas (where applicable), electricity, water rates and non-fibre optic broadband internet at the fastest possible connection speed available. This is all subject to a ‘Fair Usage Policy’ which you can find in PDF format below. The ‘All Inclusive’ rental also includes individual student contents insurance, underwritten by Zurich Insurance and the key features of this policy is also in PDF format below.