Home Business Insights & Advice Damp! What to look out for when buying a home in London

Damp! What to look out for when buying a home in London

by Sarah Dunsby
20th May 23 11:38 am

The housing market moves quickly, particularly in London. This means buyers need to have their wits about them and be ready to quickly identify issues with a property before they put in an offer. There are some all too common issues with London properties that could derail the sale if they are discovered during the survey. And if they are missed, they could end up costing you a lot of money to fix further down the line.

In this guide, we’ll explore some of the most common issues with London properties and how you can avoid them during your property search.

Rising damp

If you’re looking at a ground floor or basement property, you need to be aware of the issues with rising damp. Damp can be caused by how the home is used (build up of condensation) or it can be a structural problem.

All homes in London will have a damp proof course installed, but if it’s been a while since this was implemented, there is a chance these measures could have failed. Damp will nearly always be caught in a survey, and thankfully there are many companies out there that know how to damp proof an older property.

Poor EPC ratings

The EPC rating will give you an idea of how efficient the property is. With energy bills on the rise, it’s more important than ever to choose homes that are cheap to heat. The EPC rating will indicate how well the home is insulated. It will also tell you if the central heating and other essential appliances are energy efficient.


Apartments with flammable cladding are causing a headache for homeowners and you will struggle to secure a mortgage on a building of this type. Property developers have dodged responsibility for replacing unsafe cladding, leaving it to apartment owners to foot the bill. This leaves many unable to sell and living in an unsafe property in the meantime. If the apartment building has cladding, always confirm that this is safe, and that you won’t be on the hook for replacements if it is found to be unsafe further down the line.

Properties over shops

Properties above shops are also difficult to mortgage. While it might be convenient to live above a commercial property, and you might find that you save on energy bills thanks to rising heat from the property below, banks will be hesitant to lend on this type of home. This is due to confusion over access rights, as you may have a shared entrance way. This type of property is also difficult to value, so banks will tend to steer clear.

Shorter leaseholds

A common problem with London properties is ageing leaseholds. A leasehold means that you own the property but not the land, so you’ll pay rent on the land in addition to your mortgage payments. This can become an issue if the leasehold is shorter, such as 80 years or less. You should look to extend the leasehold before you buy, or you might find it difficult to sell further down the line. Banks may also be reluctant to sell as this could saddle them with a property they cannot sell on if you default on your mortgage payments.

Graded properties

While graded and listed properties might be architecturally beautiful and unique, they can also be difficult to repair or renovate. Save yourself the headache of navigating planning applications and choose a home that offers original features without the added stress of listed status.

Cracked walls

Any cracks in walls are always worth an investigation. These will likely be explored in more detail during a survey, but you can save yourself the stress of not knowing by learning some common signs and what they mean.

  • Horizontal cracks in walls could be a sign that the cavity wall ties are failing. This is an inexpensive fix if it is caught early, but left untreated can lead to collapsed walls.
  • Ladder shaped cracks in walls can indicate subsidence, which means that your foundations are shifting. This is more expensive to fix and could derail your home purchase.

Key takeaway

When property hunting in London, you need to stay alert and be highly curious about the history and status of the property. Don’t assume that key facts will be made obvious to you and always ask for confirmation if you are unsure.

These are just some of the issues you should be on the lookout for when browsing property in London. Some will be deal breakers, but others will simply require a little more preparation or clarification before you move forward. Many times, these issues will delay a home sale, but not derail it completely, so it’s in the seller’s best interests to reveal all of the information you need to make an informed choice.

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