Let’s talk about dealing with issues that can damage your rented home, how to deal with them and what to look out for.
This week we are happy to see the end of a long-drawn problem we had in our rented nest since mid-February.
Back in mid-February, before lockdown and social distancing came to define 2020, we noticed new blotches of humidity forming in the corner of the ceiling above our dining table. This corner of the room has no windows and no obvious point of access for water.
The humidity and related smell (yuk!) quickly worsened, so we reported it to our letting agent. Their first answer was: It must be condensation; we will send you a dehumidifier. I was sceptical – but accepted it. Once the humidity spread to the wall and bubbled up the paintwork, we knew this was no usual condensation.
We asked our upstairs neighbours if they had a leak in their bathroom, which they didn’t. They also had water damage and all pointed out to her upstairs neighbour… water travels fast!
Soon we had a huge water mark on the outside of the building: all 3 floors beneath the top flat with problems! A plumber was summoned, who found the source of the problem: a freshwater pipe was disconnected and acting as an open tap inside the wall cavity.
Imagine how much moisture had seeped into the building! They fixed the problem and the wall started drying immediately. The paint in our walls was destroyed and bubbling up so much, that I thought it best to scrape it off and let the walls dry more quickly. Water droplets came out as I removed paint!
By then, lockdown was in full swing, so we decided not to chase for the cosmetic repairs and let the walls dry fully. Little did we know that it would take over 5 months to see the end of this.
We are lucky that our landlord is very responsive and shows interest in our issues; we were rest assured that they would fix this.
So here we are, end of August and this week we had the builders come in and fix, seal and decorate what looked like a sick corner of our living area. We had dust everywhere and it was a disruptive to WFH, but now it’s all done and looking fresh!
If there is any lesson I can take from this story, is that water is a very destructive element.
Lessons I learnt:
As soon as you notice any indication of water where it shouldn’t be, REPORT IT!
And if you don’t hear back from the people in charge, INSIST
Let the area dry properly, use a dehumidifier if you can get one and open windows to help with ventilation.
Scraping off the bubbled-up paint to expose the humid plaster really helped the wall dry faster.
Be patient! It is best to let the surfaces dry completely. In our case we waited longer than necessary as COVID got in the way, who would’ve imagined it would be so long!