As the weather gets colder, condensation becomes a more common problem in our homes. 

Condensation occurs when warm air collides with cold surfaces, and the air cannot hold all of the moisture, which then causes tiny drops of water to appear. Moisture is released into the air in our homes through daily activities such as washing, cooking, drying, showering, and bathing, with an average family of four producing up to 14l of water vapour in just 24 hours.

Many homes have inadequate ventilation, and this often remains undiscovered until condensation, dampness, and mould develop in the property. As we have seen in the press, this can lead to tenant complaints, negative PR for the landlord and, in some cases, legal action under the Homes Act 2019. Because extract fans are not regularly maintained, it can be almost impossible for landlords to know if their extract fan is performing effectively until it’s too late.

The Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act (which came into effect March 2019) makes changes to the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985, placing new obligations on private and social landlords to ensure that residential properties are put and kept in a condition fit for human habitation. The law is designed to prevent tenants from living in unsafe or unsanitary conditions, such as damp, poorly ventilated properties. 

It also allows tenants to bring court actions directly without involving the landlord, forcing landlords to perform improvement works and potentially claim compensation.

Ensuring the correct ventilation is fitted to a property will negate the damp problems, improve the tenant’s indoor environment, and ensure the landlords fulfil their duty of care.

Within the repairs and maintenance sector, the testing and commissioning of continuous extract fans is far less regulated than in the newbuild sector. Many continuous extract fans in the market are perceived to meet Building Regulations, but they often don’t meet the required duty upon inspection. As a result, the property is under-ventilated, leading to problems with mould, condensation, and poor indoor air quality.

One of the issues encountered by social landlords is the importance of tenant acceptability when selecting and installing ventilation equipment, which is particularly true of extract fans. Many traditional extract fans are controlled by the tenants themselves and therefore rely on them being turned on manually, which cannot always be reliable. 

Here are some features to consider when choosing extract fans to ensure tenant acceptance:

  • Continuously running – Extract fans that run continuously and boost when rooms are in use means tenants do not need to operate the fans themselves, better suiting modern lifestyles
  • Humidity tracker – Fans such as the Nuaire Faith unit have an intelligent and energy-saving humidity tracker that continually measures the humidity levels in the home and adjusts the fan accordingly. These are ideal for addressing wet laundry, steamy bathrooms, and cooking vapours
  • Run-on timers – Units with an advanced run-on timer mode maintain air quality by operating after vacating the room, meaning excess humidity and moisture is dealt with 
  • Daily run monitors – This feature supports landlords by recording operation and performance; if the unit is tampered with or stops working, the landlord will have a record of this and act accordingly to fix the issue
  • Filterless design – A filterless solution requires minimal maintenance as it does away with the need for repeat visits to the tenants’ property, which can sometimes feel intrusive
  • Aesthetically pleasing – A sleek and modern design, sympathetic to bathroom and kitchen décor, will often ensure tenant approval
  • Flexible installation options – Extract fans fitted in the wall, ceiling, or window offer solutions for all room configurations
  • Quiet – Quiet operation is key to making sure the fan is used
  • User guides – explaining the importance of ventilation and how the unit installed can positively impact the health and wellbeing of the occupants and protect the fabric of the property is essential. 

The homes people live in must have adequate ventilation that enables the residents to control the amount of moisture they produce. It is essential that the correct units are selected to get the right outcome for the tenant, the landlord, and the property.