Mould and Condensation - Advice
In most cases, mould is caused by condensation mostly in the winter months especially when the humidity of the indoor air goes above 60%, the temperature falls below 15 degrees or less and you don’t regularly provide ventilation.
We experienced a sharp increase in mould and condensation cases in 2022 due to the extended period of colder weather, the cost-of-living crisis and increased energy costs. Around 30% of tenants either limited or didn’t have their heating on and were reluctant to ventilate their property by opening windows, even turning off fans to save on electricity. Without ongoing air changes and a constant heat source, moisture in the air turns to condensation resulting in mould. It can only take 24 to 48 hours for mould spores to develop.
Tenants are responsible for making sure that the way they live doesn’t cause significant amounts of condensation that results in mould growth on walls, ceilings and behind furniture.
A balance is needed so you may have to experiment and persevere until the problem is resolved. One solution doesn’t always resolve mould as there are many factors that can be involved and it’s mostly a joint working solution.
We can provide heating, extraction, windows and a watertight building but we have no influence on the environmental factors such as cooking, bathing, furniture positions or energy consumption. If a property is not adequately ventilated or heated in the Winter months, mould may form.
Damp and mould advice video
Try to reduce the problems caused by condensation by:
- using lids on boiling pans
- keeping furniture at least 50mm away from surrounding walls
- hanging washing outside, or keeping the windows open when drying inside
- keeping internal kitchen and bathroom doors shut when cooking and bathing
- keeping kitchen and bathrooms well ventilated
- wiping condensation from windows and mirrors
- If using a tumble dryer, ensure it is adequately vented to the outside of the property
- keeping your home at a minimum of 17 degrees, though the World Health Organisation recommends keeping your home at 21 degrees
- opening the doors of unused or under heated rooms to allow warm air to circulate
Remember that cleaning and redecoration following mould is your responsibility. Regular cleaning of affected walls with a fungicidal wash is necessary to keep mould away.
If mould has developed, you must clean it away as soon as you can. Use an anti-mould remover on the area, which carries a HSE approved number, and shampoo any affected carpets. Washing clothes should remove mould or mildew, however it may leave a stain.
When using any anti-mould products, make sure you follow the instructions for safe use.
How to report a repair
Axis Europe are responsible for conducting all Council property repairs and maintenance.
To report a repair, call 01277 312500. You will need to select the following options:
- Option 2 for a Council Service
- Option 2 for Housing
- Option 1 for Repairs
This will take you through to Axis to report your repair.
Note: Axis peak call times are Monday and Tuesdays from 8.30am – 11am. Axis have a call back service where you will receive a call when the next call centre staff member is available and not lose your place in the queue.
You can also email your name, address, contact details and details of the enquiry to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Out of hours emergencies
For out of hours emergency repairs, call 01277 312500 and select option 2, which will take you through to Axis. It is very costly to send out a trade operative out of hours. It's very costly to send out a trade operative out of hours so it's important you only request a call out for genuine emergencies.
We define a genuine emergency as danger to life or where there is a serious risk of considerable damage to the property, such as:
- total loss of electricity
- burst water pipes
- loss of water supply or hot water
- total failure of central heating
- restore flush to toilet where tenant is unable to flush with a bucket
- roof leaks
- dangerous roof slates or chimneys
- board up or re-glaze windows for safety or security
- blocked sewers
Call outs for repairs which are not considered emergencies will be recharged at the full cost.
Gas leaks or suspicion of fumes from a gas appliance should be reported immediately to Cadent by calling 0800 111 999.
- get fresh air immediately, open all doors and windows to ventilate the area
- turn off the gas emergency control valve if known
- extinguish all naked flames and do not operate any electrical switches
- evacuate the premises
- Axis Condensation Advice (PDF)
- Axis Handy Guide to looking after your home (PDF)
- Axis Energy Saving Tips (PDF)
- Electrical Safety Policy (PDF)
- Damp, Mould and Condensation Policy (PDF)
- Aids and adaptations policy (PDF)
- Electrical Safety (PDF)
- Lifts and Lifting Policy (PDF)
- Oil and Solid Fuel (PDF)
- Heat Billing Policy (PDF)
Stock condition surveys
We have appointed a company called Savills to undertake a sample condition survey and an energy performance certificate (EPC) of our housing stock so that we can collate information about the age and condition of all our assets. This is so we have an up-to-date database of all our housing stock so when funding streams are available, we can plan future projects. A survey is not an indication that works are imminent.
We’re sending out letters to the areas they will be visiting and their surveyors will have identification.
We have been very active over the last few years concentrating on health and safety including fire safety related work as well as communal heating upgrades, replacement of domestic boilers, water hygiene and electrical compliance. Our priority is to ensure the safety of our tenants, buildings and estates.
In 2022, we started replacing a small number of street doors and have a programme to replace fire rated doors in the blocks to comply with fire safety requirements. In 2023, we have several projects replacing street doors, external painting, kitchens and bathrooms. We’re also looking at a limited controlled entry system replacement programme and CCTV.
Budgets are limited, and we have instigated some projects around the borough which have been agreed through members. All programmes are based on available funding in a given year and stock condition data.
Gas safety checks
If you're due your annual gas safety check, consider the following guidance:
- Brentwood Borough Council (BBC) has a legal duty to ensure the safety of all gas appliances every 12 months. We employ Axis Europe plc as our Gas Safe contractor to carry out this function.
- All BBC and Axis employees should have an ID card. Don’t let anyone in your home unless you’re happy they are who they say they are, and on legitimate business. If in doubt, ask the engineer to wait outside your closed front door while you check by calling the general repairs number above.
- Due to our statutory obligation to ensure the safety of your gas appliances within a 12-month period, we will ensure adequate notice is given via telephone, letter and a site visit but failing to provide access may result in court action being taken.
- If you have a pre-payment gas meter, you should make sure there is enough credit to carry out the gas service.
- You are responsible for the installation and maintenance of your gas cooker. You must make sure to use a gas safe registered engineer for any repairs or maintenance of your gas cooker.
No matter how good we think the contract is, it will only work well with your help. You will be receiving the service, so it’s important that we get your views on how well the contractors are doing.
Axis send a text message after each job confirming if a tenant is satisfied or not with the repair carried out.
Each year we conduct a landlords satisfaction survey to give us an overall picture of the service we provide and areas of service that we need to focus on.
Minor repairs resolution and general advice
You shouldn't flush the following items down your toilet, or you could be recharged:
- Wet wipes
- Toilet duck disposable cleaning heads
- Kitchen roll
- Dental floss
Did you know that you can unblock a toilet with mop? Simply insert into the bottom of the toilet in a circular action and then plunge gently a few times.
To help stop blockages to kitchen sinks, you shouldn't put the following items down the sink, or you may be recharged:
- fat, grease or oils which can solidify in the pipework
- rice, which swells
- excessive food waste
Some strong chemical clearing agents can melt your pipework or joints so you should make sure they are suitable. A natural way to clear a sink is 1/3 cup of vinegar with 1/3 cup of baking powder poured down the sink together, leave for 10 minutes then rinse with hot water.
Where possible, alternate the windows you open and close. This will help alleviate wear and tear to the locking mechanisms.
You should make sure that trickle vents at the top of the window are in the open position to allow for air replacement.
If you have a shower attachment off your bath, you should only use it if there is a screen or curtain in place, as well as a fully tiled wall area from bath to ceiling.
If there is a sealant leak around the bath, you can tape a plastic bag or bin liner to the wall so that the potential leak point is stopped until a repair is started.
You should be careful when removing items from under the kitchen sink, to ensure no leaks have occurred.
Most taps, baths, sinks and toilets have isolation valves. These are either a stopcock or gate valve or a ballofix valve. To close a stopcock or gate valve, turn clockwise until resistance is felt and the water has stopped. In the case of a ballofix valve, you will need to use a small, flat head screwdriver in the valve and quarter turn to close so it is in the horizontal position.
Fencing and gates
We will make safe and undertake a repair of a fence or gate and will replace any asset including fencing if it’s beyond economical repair. Axis may fit concrete spurs to secure a fence post rather than full post replacement. All fencing is replaced on a ‘like for like’ basis. If we made any fence higher or change it from its original design, we would be setting a precedence. Due to current budgets, we’re listing all new fencing requests that may be released once funding is available. No fence is replaced due to its design, aesthetics, age, minor damage, mildew or being unpainted. If a fence provides a barrier, then it is left in situ. We, in theory, only have to provide a boundary line to dividing gardens. Fencing to communal boundaries or public footpaths will be prioritised.
A tenant can’t remove or replace any existing fencing unless they send a written request to their housing officer asking permission. Fencing in a rear garden cannot be higher than 2m or 6’6” or planning permission is needed, and the maximum height of a front fence is 1m or 3’2”. If you install trellis, you will be responsible for all future maintenance. If you allow foliage or ivy to cover your fence, which would add undue weight to the structure, you will be responsible for making it good and clearing all foliage.
We recommend that you apply a wood preservative to prolong the life of your fence or gates.
Cost of living
We do appreciate that in recent times many of us have been affected by increased energy costs and general cost of living. For information and advice, view our cost-of-living help.
We have come across many tenants who are deciding to move away from taking baths to installing their own electric, mains fed or attachment showers or using the shower rinse aide attached to a bath mixer as a shower.
You must ask for permission from your housing officer to install an electric shower. You will need to upgrade the fuse board using a qualified, approved electrician. Excessive water vapour and spillage may cause tiling to come away, plastered surfaces to get saturated or leaks to the floor below.
Showers must have:
- full tiling to the area of showering
- a suitable weighted curtain or screen and rail to deter spray or spillage
- a firm solid mastic bead around the bath, and make sure the tiling is grouted
- a boiler with suitable pressure to facilitate the running of a shower
We don’t recommend push on showers attachments as they are prone to leaking or back surge.
Showers cause excessive moisture or steam to be generated which, if not ventilated, would cause an increase in water vapour turning to condensation or mould, especially in the winter months.
We recommend that any residual water on the tiling is wiped off or removed with a squeegee, an inti-slip mat is placed in the bath and a mat to stand on when you exit the bath.
Aids and adaptations
We provide funding each year for adaptations to enable occupiers to remain in their home, for as long as it’s safe and reasonable to do so. All works are generated from reports received from an Occupation Health Therapist requested through Social Services, and are vetted by a council panel of officers before release.
If you have a loss of power supply or light, first check your meter has credit and the bulb hasn’t blown.
Make sure that the MCBs (small switches on the fuse board) are all in the up position. If the power trips again then unplug all appliances and reset the MCB. Plug appliances back in one at a time, so you can see which one has tripped the MCB.
You should never overload plug points or daisy chain extension leads (plug one extension lead into another).
If you have a water penetration issue from the property above, you can isolate lighting and power circuits separately by moving the MCBs to the off position. The circuits will be identified on the fuse board
Don’t remove, cover or tamper with any smoke, heat or C0 detectors as they’re there for your safety as an early warning device. If a smoke alarm is battery operated and chirping, you can report it to Axis by calling 01277 312500 selecting option 2, then option 2 or by emailing BrentwoodRepairs@axiseurope.com.
If door handles are sticking, you can spray WD40 into the working parts.
If a door handle comes off, you can open the door by inserting a large screwdriver into the mechanism and quarter turn to open.
If you damage, crack or dent any door, or if you lose your keys, you may be recharged.
To minimise the risk of bacteria, we advise that if you’re away from your home for period of time, especially in the warmer months, on your return you should run all of your taps to remove any stagnant water.
You can minimise limescale by cleaning your taps and shower heads with a suitable cleaning solution.
E-scooters and e-bikes
E-bikes and e-scooters are becoming increasingly popular. Most are powered by lithium-ion batteries which can be charged at home.
It’s important when charging e-bikes and e-scooters, you do so safely to avoid a fire starting and putting your families and homes at risk. We are seeing an increase in fires involving them and the fire safety concerns relate to their charging and storage.
When an e-scooter or e-bike is involved in a fire, it can release large volumes of smoke, get very hot, and sometimes have a violent reaction leading to a rapidly developing fire.
For more information, visit Essex Fire.
Permission for works in your property
As a Council tenant, you have rights as part of your tenancy agreement. If you’re a secure tenant, one of them is to carry out improvements and alterations to your home, with permission
We can refuse permission if we consider the works to be dangerous, they reduce the value of the property, they restrict the property, or we would have an obligation to repair any fixtures. We don’t allow structural works to our buildings unless exceptional circumstances such as aids and adaptions.
If you carry out works without permission, we may give you notice to put the property back to how it was on the day you took over the tenancy, or if you refuse, we may carry out the works and counter charge you directly.
If you carry out works in your property, you would then be liable for all future repairs and maintenance such as fitting a shower, front door, patio, electrical fittings, kitchen or fence.
If we have to attend to carry out a repair on your improvement or fitting due to a health and safety risk, you would be recharged.
If any additional costs are incurred when we are maintaining the original structure of the property (e.g. specialist scaffolding costs, excavation costs which require movement of the structure you maintain or extra costs incurred as a result of the structure) due to your alteration, you will be recharged for these expenses.
If your tenancy finishes you would be expected to return the property and fixtures to how the property was on the day you took over the tenancy. You would also be counter charged for any reinstatement works bringing the property back to the Council’s lettable standard.
If a proposed project involved building works, we would need a copy of all details including granted permission from building and planning control, and party wall notices.
Any window or door replacements would have to be undertaken by a reputable accredited FENSA contractor while matching the existing profile in the block or street.
For any electrical works completed, we would need a copy of your minor works certification.
For any external excavation, we would expect a CAT scan or GPR survey to be done to ensure no cables, drains or supplies have been disturbed.
You must get permission for:
- fishponds, outside taps, sheds, greenhouses and outhouses
- external hardstanding, addition or removal of fencing, paving, pathways, excavations, drop kerbs, driveways allowed only in certain circumstances
- all heating including radiators, towel rails, gas fires, fireplace removal
- electrical, fittings or sockets, spotlights, external PIR lighting, removal or disturbing of heat, smoke or co detectors
- windows, internal and external doors
- external painting of the building - this would have to match and allow not be vivid colours
- flooring, timber or laminate
- kitchen, bathroom or toilet upgrades, water meters, additions including showers, mixer taps, pipework, tiling or bathroom fixtures.
- satellite dishes, tv aerials and CB satellites or antennas
We don’t allowstructural works or the installation of:
- knock throughs or the removal of walls
- installation of patio doors, wood burners, conservatories, garages, additional toilets
- converting outhouses into habitable area especially toilet or kitchen
- car ports, chimney breast removal, loft conversions, porches, removal of balustrading to a staircase, making one bedroom into two
- satellite dishes to any flat
- laminate flooring in flats above ground floor
- converting a garden area for parking
Await your approval or set details of any conditions that are to be met then you should let us know when works are completed as we may need to check works are satisfactory.
For technical advice, email the repairs team on email@example.com.
Find out more about Planning and Building control.
Loft spaces are not habitable areas unless converted by the council and are not to be used for storage as they present undue stress to the roof timbers that are designed to take the weight of the roof covering. In most cases they have no walkways, lighting and insulation and should only be assessed by a member of the repairs team.
Rechargeable repairs - deliberate, accidental or negligent damage
Recharges can be imposed due to deliberate, accidental or negligent damage while you're living in the property, when you leave a property or mutual exchange.
Where a tenant or leaseholders damage another resident’s property, this will be dealt with in the normal way by the Repairs Team, but a recharge invoice will be sent to the Tenant or Leaseholder responsible for the damage caused.
Decisions will be at the discretion of the Housing Repairs Manager, Housing Manager, Corporate Managers for Repairs and Estates or such other officer which the Director of Housing may from time to time nominate for that purpose.
Recharges may apply for the following, but is not limited to:
- malicious damage, whether the perpetrator is known or not, must be reported to the Police, or has not been classed as a crime by the Police, such as wilful damage caused by Tenants or Leaseholders, their visitors, or pets to any part of the property or communal areas through an act of violence or mistreatment
- malicious damage (whether the perpetrator is known or not) must be reported promptly to the police and a crime reference number obtained. Police incident numbers will be accepted in certain circumstances at the discretion of the Council and may not be deemed chargeable.
- accidental damage, where each case will be considered on its merits, and discretion may be used depending on the circumstances, for example, where vulnerable people are involved
- replacement of lost or broken door entry key fobs, lost or stolen keys, gaining entry to change the locks and any damage to internal or external door or window
- removing graffiti and rectifying damage where this has been done by the tenant, leaseholder or visitors to the property
- leaks into the properties below due to incorrect plumbing, misuse of an appliance, such as a washing machine, spillage or plumbing done by an uncertified plumber
- blockages where misuse has been identified by our Repairs and Maintenance providers, such as wet wipes, foreign objects, nappies, over use of paper, fat or grease
- making good or reinstating any DIY undertaken by the tenant unless agreed by the Housing Team in writing
- damaged or missing original electrical fittings
- broken or cracked glazing, unless a Crime reference number is provided
- missing items, such as fire doors, property alterations, damage other than fair wear and tear, clearance of rubbish, floor finishes, clearing out of lofts
- clearing gardens including removal of sheds (sheds in good condition may be left if agreed at pre-tenancy inspection by a Housing Officer)
- removal or lopping of trees where it is tenant’s responsibility and it hasn’t been maintained
- repairs to pathways, fencing, outbuildings or property where damage has resulted from unmaintained trees which are deemed tenant responsibility
- removal or making good tenant fixtures
- removal of trees or hedges – tidying gardens that have been neglected or left overgrown by tenants. Also, where a Tenant has requested the removal of a tree, hedge or other natural item, which is not the responsibility of the Council, this must be in line with the Tree Conservation and Maintenance Policy and any necessary consents first obtained.
Some of these are day to day charges, and others apply when a tenant leaves the property.
Moving into your property or vacating the property
- If you have a gas boiler, make sure you register with the utility provider for gas and electric before you request Axis to commission your boiler.
- Properties have a minimal lettable standard that we work to which is post inspected by all parties before being let. We will make sure all compliance certification has been provided.
- Refer to your housing officer for permission to undertake any DIY which is outlined in your tenancy and detailed in this section.
- Do not use industrial or heavy-duty steamers on walls to remove wall covering as this can cause extensive damage to the wall coatings. If found to be negligence, any reinstatement would be your responsibility, or you may be counter charged.
When you leave your property, you should make sure all belongings are removed in and out of the property or you may be recharged. Leave the property as you found it, or you may be recharged for any alterations you may have undertaken that we will need to reinstate.