Irish Times Property Clinic 9th day of March 2023.
Publishing Date; Thursday the 9th day of March 2023.
Q My management company has written a letter to me asking that I cease drying clothes on my apartment balcony. I’m quite annoyed about this because if I dry my clothes in the house then my house smells damp, and I worry about the mould issues. I cannot see the rule anywhere in the house rules or in my lease. Can you advise me if there is anything I can do about this?
A. The covenants of the lessee is the binding contractual obligations of each and every property owner in an owners’ management company (OMC). These are found, along with the OMCs obligations to you, in the lease which binds the OMC and the members. This document is often held with a lending facility where a mortgage is in place and/or with your solicitor.
The house rules are a series of regulations that would mirror the lease agreement in a more simplified manner. House rules are approved by the OMC members at an AGM and then, they too, are binding on all members under section 23 of the Multi-Unit Developments Act 2011. The rationale of rules like the one you describe is to ensure that activities by residents do not detract from the overall appearance of the development.
In brief, your neighbours do not want to see your washing and signed up to this as a lease standard.
If you have a management agent in place assisting the board of directors of the OMC, they should be in a position to provide you with a sample copy of the lease and/or house rules noting the specifics of the breach.
Damp is an issue where there is poor ventilation in apartments. Also, cheaper building materials such as aluminium-framed windows and patio doors heightens cold bridging. This is where you have a gap or a weak spot in the insulation surrounding a house, known as the thermal envelope.
This issue is exacerbated when there is a higher level of occupation – for example, due to the recent trend of working more from home – and when large volumes of moisture are released in a small cold space from activities such as bathing, cooking and washing clothes.
The average amount of water created per night by one person is roughly one litre. Add cooking and washing to this in a small space and the risk of mould increases. In 2017 it was believed that each person uses 133 litres of water a day in Ireland.
So you can see that without adequate ventilation, issues with damp will arise. One of the main causes of damp is condensation and a combination of good ventilation and regulated heating is one of the most effective ways of dealing with it.
In practical terms, this means opening windows on a regular basis and allowing humid air to escape outside. Also, by keeping your heating on a low setting – and everyone is mindful of how high energy costs are at the moment – you can reduce the number of cold surfaces within the apartment and the levels of condensation.
If damp still remains an issue other potential solutions include using a dehumidifier and/or a vented clothes dryer. While some of these measures will involve additional expense, they should keep your apartment damp and mould free while ensuring compliance with lease and house rules.
Paul Huberman FSCSI FRICS is a chartered property and facilities manager, and a Fellow of the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland and the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors.
Author: Paul Huberman of H&H Property Management Consultants Ltd
Publish Date: 07/03/2023