Condensation problem with tenant

Our tenant - a young single mother - has just phoned to say she has discovered mould in the cupboard where she keeps her children’s clothing, all of which is ruined. There is also mould downstairs around the window where she stood her Christmas tree.

We have owned the property for 17 years and there has never been a mould problem.

My assumption is that the mould is due to (a) her use of a paraffin stove and (b) drying washing in the house.

I have already supplied her with a condensation absorber for the bathroom, where she also uses the paraffin heater and has previously reported condensation there. She has been in the house for 4 months.

There is wood burner in the house and electric radiators, but she is obviously using the paraffin heater as a primary heating source. The place is always draped with washing. She is a devoted mother and her life revolves around her children and of course she wants to keep them well clothed.

The house does not have a garden, just a small outside area but room to put a clothes airer.

I am wondering firstly whether she can claim on her insurance for the damage to the clothing and treatment of the mould…

Secondly are within our rights, as proprietors, to prevent her using the paraffin heater?

Thanks for any advicee.

Buy a couple of dehumidifiers that can permanently drain so font need to be emptied they can remove huge a ou ts of moisture.

Once a house is dryer it is much easier to heat.


Thank you for your comment.

The house was perfectly dry before she moved in and began using the paraffin heaters. There has never previously been a damp problem.

I really can’t afford to spend a lot of money buying dehumidifiers to deal with a problem that is being created by the paraffin heaters, and which will increase her electricity bills.

Be careful, some friends of ours who rented a completely dry property had tenants who created a mould problem (they think the stopped up the bathroom ventilation because of draughts). The tenants sought a medical opinion that the mould had caused them a health problem and took them to court. It cost a fair bit, plus had to do major work before were able to rent again legally.

A couple of dehumidifiers might be a small price to pay.


Thank you. We are going to visit the property tomorrow and will see what can be done.

Does the tenant not have any liability for causing damage to the property?

If you wrote in their contract that they mustn’t bring in a poele à petrole you can forbid it, otherwise you might not be on firm ground. It doesn’t seem to be clear if you can demand their removal without bringing in an expert to prove that this is what is causing the problems. Which is hard to prove!

Sounds like she is not airing the house well. Which doesn’t help. If it is because she is short of money perhaps suggest buying her an oil filled radiator (about 80-100€) in place of the kerosene as you are concerned that then petrole fumes are not good for her children.


I didn’t want to say so Jane but your advice has emboldened me, just wondering whether same tenant had any problems elsewhere previously.

On the other hand, in my garden this year I’ve noticed a lot more moss on the stones this winter than previously. And I do mean a lot. Historically winters were dry here till very recently. Not sure which part of France you are but wonder if climatic conditions perhaps changed for damper this year where you are also


Just my 2 pennies worth. If you can amend the contract concerning additional heating sources include gas heaters just as bad for humidity,CO & CO2, you could possibly argue they are an added fire risk.

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Thanks to everybody for the replies and advice.

We have owned the house for 17 years. No other tenant has had a condensation/mould problem. I am certain it’s a combination of the paraffin heater and the amount of damp washing festooned everywhere.

The idea of an oil heater is a good one, although the wet washing is still going to cause a problem. We are in south-west France and the weather has not been particularly damp this year, certainly no more than any previous years.

We will see how we get on tomorrow.

If the property has a VMC make sure it’s still working, & make sure the tenant isn’t switching it off.

You mentioned a wood burner, check the air vents supplying that too, well all ventilation in the house.

I also wondered whether fire risk was your lever to prevent he use of the paraffin heater.

And that the CO2 meter works as well!!

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And that there’s a CO sensor with a loud alarm. Umm just thinking, the tenant has kids… check that the batteries are still in place, Christmas toys and remote controls need them.

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Buy a humidity meter, usually low cost to check when you arrive, maybe leave it with the tenant telling them to open a window or two when it gets to 65%

A dehumidifier is the solution, Lidl had decent compressor ones with a clothes drying setting for €129 before Christmas. I’ve an absorption/desiccant one that kept the cabin of a boat I had dry for years and now does sterling service after the odd leak on the garage. I wouldn’t be without one in the house.

There are primariy 2 types of dehumidifier depending on the ambiant temperature where they will be used.

1 type (refrigerant) is for normal household type temperatures whereas the other (dessinant) works in cold temperatures and doesn’t freeze up - we have both types and I can confirm that the refrigerant types works significantly better in a normal household environment.

The amount of water they can drain is huge and can fill up their internal tank very quickly - it is best to get one which can drain directly to a drain so the tank doesn’t need emptying every day.


I haven’t heard of anyone using parafin heaters in houses for many years. Are they still used much in France?
We have a Meaco Zambezi dehumidifier. It’s the dog’s b******** and designed to work in low
temperatures. We don’t heat our main bedroom and clothes in the built in wardrobe in this Edwardian house would otherwise suffer. We have it set on low for two hours a day.

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In a word, yes. Which is why they are all on display at Brico stores with the dehumidifiers alongside.