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Topic # 150194 14-Jul-2014 19:14
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Hi all,

Just asking about my rights regarding a lease that I have taken up. Basically I moved into a house that was sold to me as being dry and easy to heat however have since found this house is damp (85% humidity even with a dehumidifier operating) as well as very cold and hard to heat (based on the dampness).

The house now has a smell of dampness and we're finding it impossible to get rid-of, we lifted a corner of carpet in the dampest room and have found there is actually water under the carpet causing the underlay to become totally soaked.

We've sent a few emails to the landlord in regards to this - first she said to get a quote to get a HRV installed and now is saying she has 2x dehumidifiers she is willing to give us, the problem with using the dehumidifiers is the power bill that comes with it and the fact it isn't really solving the issue.

I've had to take the day off work today from being ill, my flatmate has also had to take sick days and I am one to never get sick at all. In the meantime we can't live in the house as when we're there we both end up quite sick.

First of all - where would we go to get the mold etc tested? And what are our rights with either finding a resolution or getting out of our lease? It is currently costing me $150 per week in power to run heaters and dehumidifiers and feel we can't wait until summer especially when we're in Windy Wellington on an exposed hill overlooking the city.

The photos below show the house with quite a bit of mould, we've cleaned these areas spotless with Exit-Mould a number of times and the mould grows back after a few days.

Edit: Sorry, didn't mean to break the forums with posting an Imgur gallery - here is the gallery: https://imgur.com/a/jTh5V




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  Reply # 1088834 14-Jul-2014 19:20
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You've got the damp documented so that is great. If you can keep a copy of the advert and record of phone conversations, I would be on to the tenancy tribunal asap. It takes time but you need to go the right way. See here for details



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  Reply # 1088838 14-Jul-2014 19:25
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knoydart: You've got the damp documented so that is great. If you can keep a copy of the advert and record of phone conversations, I would be on to the tenancy tribunal asap. It takes time but you need to go the right way. See here for details


Cheers for that - yes we've started the process, we are a week into our lease now. Some people seem to think you can actually claim power back off the landlord?




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  Reply # 1088842 14-Jul-2014 19:31
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michaelmurfy:

Cheers for that - yes we've started the process, we are a week into our lease now. Some people seem to think you can actually claim power back off the landlord?


Depends on the landlord. If they are supplying the dehumidifier for their problem, I would be wanted some $$ for the power. Unfortunately Wellington housing stock is pants, and some property managers are to boot. Good luck with sorting out, having had 4 winters on the Karori Alpine Plateau I know how it feels. 

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  Reply # 1088846 14-Jul-2014 19:48
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Didn't you see the mould before you moved in? Looks like they didn't install insulation around the skylight surround, so it is getting condensation on the cold surface at night. You may also want to have your windows open more. You need to find out what the source of the dampness is, as these ventilation systems won't necessarily fix the problem. There maybe a leak somewhere.

 

edit: I reread your post, and you said there was water under the carpet, it means something is leaking, possibly one of thoise black water pipes which leak or a leaky window or roof flashing. This will be the cause of the problem.

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  Reply # 1088847 14-Jul-2014 19:50
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If moisture is coming up from under the floorboards then the landlord needs to commit to isolating that problem at the source. Merely giving you a couple of dehumidifiers is, as you say, not solving the problem.

I think you need to give her reasonable opportunity to fix it and if she doesn't then serve notice that you wish to terminate the lease early as she is not providing a safe environment. If she won't comply then go to the tribunal. Start looking at other housing in the interim so that you don't end up homeless if/when you terminate your current lease.

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  Reply # 1088850 14-Jul-2014 20:05
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Also HRV will prob cost the same if not more as running 2x dehumidifiers. 





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  Reply # 1088875 14-Jul-2014 20:31
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Get out and terminate, in that order.

Either that or negotiate for a massive rent reduction to cover the additional power costs. However, it will most likely still be bad anyway.

That water under the floorboards thing is a serious problem and the owner/manager should be sending someone to have a look at that immediately.

And separately to assess the source(s) and cause(s) of the general damp problem. It may be a series of relatively small fixes are required or a larger general issue with the construction which cannot be solved quickly.

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  Reply # 1088878 14-Jul-2014 20:40
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xpd: Also HRV will prob cost the same if not more as running 2x dehumidifiers. 



I thought they were supposed to be really cheap to run. I recall they used to be advertised to cost about 20 cents a day, and really they are just a fan connected to venting with a controller, so there isn't much to them. Dehumidifiers however have heating and cooling to them as well as  a fan..

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  Reply # 1088880 14-Jul-2014 20:46
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The big issues need to be solved or at least assessed before that can be considered as a possible solution anyway.

Edit: Not very useful for mopping up a puddle lol..



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  Reply # 1088881 14-Jul-2014 20:48
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mattwnz:
xpd: Also HRV will prob cost the same if not more as running 2x dehumidifiers. 



I thought they were supposed to be really cheap to run. I recall they used to be advertised to cost about 20 cents a day, and really they are just a fan connected to venting with a controller, so there isn't much to them. Dehumidifiers however have heating and cooling to them as well as  a fan..


They're very cheap to run, basically having a fan running + pumping air through the house. Had one in one of my previous houses and they were great.

We noticed the mould in the bathroom (where the Skylight is) and thought "easy fix" however this has not proven to be the case. Didn't notice the rest of the mould as the previous tenants had posters on the walls and it isn't really visible until you really look at it - they were also running heaters all through the house so it appeared "warm". I do remember during the viewing there was that smell of damp however they were drying washing in one of the rooms so put it down to that.

I've looked for sources of leaks and have put it down to the roof itself leaking as there are wet patches on the ceilings in the Lounge and one of the bedrooms, grabbed a ladder from work and can see light from a couple of parts of the roof in the roof civility.

A bit of a shame really - this house does have an awesome view of Wellington too!




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  Reply # 1088882 14-Jul-2014 20:51
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michaelmurfy: [snip]A bit of a shame really - this house does have an awesome view of Wellington too!


Good views of the night sky through those extra holes by the sound of it too ;-)

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  Reply # 1088883 14-Jul-2014 20:52
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michaelmurfy: I've looked for sources of leaks and have put it down to the roof itself leaking as there are wet patches on the ceilings in the Lounge and one of the bedrooms, grabbed a ladder from work and can see light from a couple of parts of the roof in the roof civility.

Someone needs to look at that. Could be fixed for the price of an HRV installation if you are lucky : )



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  Reply # 1088885 14-Jul-2014 21:03
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gzt:
michaelmurfy: I've looked for sources of leaks and have put it down to the roof itself leaking as there are wet patches on the ceilings in the Lounge and one of the bedrooms, grabbed a ladder from work and can see light from a couple of parts of the roof in the roof civility.

Someone needs to look at that. Could be fixed for the price of an HRV installation if you are lucky : )


Hah indeed. I believe the Landlord is looking at this but "looking" and "doing" have 2 different meanings.




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  Reply # 1088900 14-Jul-2014 21:18
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I suggest deciding whether you otherwise like the house.

If you like the house, approach the agent/landlord first and nicely advise the house is not dry and warm as promised, and you need it to be or you can't stay.  See if they will look at insulating promptly.  We had an excellent experience with these guys http://www.smartenergysolutions.co.nz/page/insulation_installation and in Auckland a big chunk of the cost can be 'put on the rates' and paid off with the rates bill over 5 years so the up front cost is minimal.  If you go down the tenancy tribunal route, the best outcome I can see is them declaring you can exit the lease early.  IMHO the landlord isn't going to be interested in them telling him to insulate...  he'll either be interested or not interested based on your personal approach.

If you don't like the house or just want out, talk to these guys http://www.dbh.govt.nz/sorting-out-problems about you issuing a 14 day breach of agreement letter/notice.  The landlord would not have to fix it within 14 days because it is a non-trivial issue, but they would have to take reasonable steps within that time.  I would be 80% sure the landlord would just want you out at that point (given that you have hit them with legal stuff instead of asking nicely) so they can put in some other tenant that they can then ignore.

Good luck.  Would be interested to hear how you get on.




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  Reply # 1088901 14-Jul-2014 21:24
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We've sent a few emails to the landlord in regards to this - first she said to get a quote to get a HRV installed and now is saying she has 2x dehumidifiers she is willing to give us, the problem with using the dehumidifiers is the power bill that comes with it and the fact it isn't really solving the issue.

Sucking air from the roof in winter will make the house cold and it'll still be nearly as damp . Does the house have a rangehood and shower fan?

Unless a dehumidifier is poor quality or the house is a enormous it should be able to greatly reduce humidity over a 24 hour period. That it isn't doing so and that the house is very cold means the house likely has serious air tightness issues which is letting damp outside air inside and the heat out. If it doesn't have a concrete floor or has an old roof it's possible lots of dampness is entering that way and remedial work would be required. What insulation does the house have?

You may also want to have your windows open more.

Replacing cold air with 85% humidity with colder air with 95% humidity isn't a good tradeoff. wink

edit: I reread your post, and you said there was water under the carpet, it means something is leaking, possibly one of thoise black water pipes which leak or a leaky window or roof flashing. This will be the cause of the problem.

There may be something leaking but bare floorboards without sheeting underneath could cause the same problem. If the roof is leaking that needs to be fixed but some older roofs will let water vapour through even if they aren't leaking the rain directly.

If you're able to annul the lease I would do so.

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