Skip to content
Written by
Anna McEntee
Insurance comparison expert
1 MARCH 2024
5 min read
Share article

The mouldiest locations in England


Rank City Population Avg. annual search volume Avg. annual search volume per 10,000 people Damp score 2021
(out of 10)
Avg. damp score 2020 and 2021
(out of 10)
1 Manchester 395,515 17,160 434 5.6 4.8
2 Leeds 455,123 13,440 295 5.6 5.55
3 London 7,556,900 216,600 287 4.7 3.95
4 Liverpool 864,122 15,840 183 5.6 4.8
5 Bristol 617,280 14,160 229 5.1 4.9
6 Sheffield 685,368 9,600 140 5.6 5.55
7 Bradford 299,310 3,360 112 5.6 5.55
8 Swindon 185,609 3,000 162 5.1 4.9
9 Plymouth 260,203 4,200 161 5.1 4.9
10 Preston 313,332 3,240 103 5.6 4.8

Mould is an unwelcome guest in any home, yet millions of people across the country are impacted by it every day. According to government research, up to  27% of homes in England suffer from invasive damp and mould, accounting for a staggering 6.5 million households.

Beyond aesthetic concerns, mould poses a threat to both the physical structure of a home and the well-being of its inhabitants. It can be toxic to occupants, worsen respiratory conditions like asthma, and even have a detrimental impact on residents’ mental health.

With this in mind, we conducted research to discover which locations in England are most affected by mould and damp. We considered variables, including the number of Google searches related to the issue, and analysed the most up to date data available for government scores on the levels of damp and mould in private and rented homes in England.

These scores are based on the average levels of rising damp, penetrating damp and condensation in dwellings across the city. Each metric was considered to achieve a score out of 10, where the higher the number, the more the city is affected by mould and dampness.

The cities in England suffering the most from damp and mould

After comparing all metrics, Manchester comes out on top, with the most damp overall. Residences in the city were found to have a damp score of 4 out of 10 in 2020, which increased to 5.6 in 2021, the highest figure on the list, on par with Leeds. Data reveals that plenty of people living in Manchester also research how to solve the issue, with over 17,000 searches a year, further showing that this is a common problem in the city.

Leeds ranks second, with the same high damp score as Manchester of 5.6 in 2021. However, the city has fewer annual searches for damp-related terms placing it just behind the northwestern city.

Although London has the lowest damp score in the top 10 at 4.7, its high annual search volume per 10,000 people (287) places it as the third dampest location in England. In fourth is Liverpool, with a damp score of 5.6, and Bristol comes in fifth with a damp score of 5.1.

Author image Anna McEntee

What our expert says...

“Dealing with mould can be a stressful experience, but it's important to address it promptly and effectively to minimise any health risks. Taking steps to prevent and remove damp and mould not only protects your property but provides a safe and comfortable living environment for everyone in the home.

With this in mind, we’ve put together a list of some of the ways you can work to prevent and remove mould and damp. However, we recommend also doing your own research to ensure you are taking the right steps for your property and mould situation.”

- Anna McEntee, Insurance comparison expert

How to manage damp and mould in your home

1. Preventing damp

Most home insurance policies don’t include damage caused by damp and condensation, so it is unlikely you will be covered for mould-related problems. Therefore, the best way to protect your home from mould is to prevent it. Moist and humid environments lead to mould growth, so keeping your home dry and ventilated is essential. Using a dehumidifier or an extractor fan can increase air circulation, and simple steps like opening your windows when cooking in the kitchen, or in the bathroom when showering, can help. Make sure to let in natural light when you can, and clean and vacuum regularly to stave off mould growth.

2. Fix the problem

If it’s too late to prevent, then removing it is the next step. Generally, mould can be treated with a special antifungal spray that will kill the mould rather than just wipe it away. Once the mould is removed, remember to keep the areas dry and clean, and open windows when possible.

Make sure to check all areas of the home and look out for signs that damp and mould might be returning. Signs to look for are peeling paint or wallpaper, particularly by skirting boards, and dark patches of colour on the walls. Remember to check hidden places like corners and behind furniture where there might be less ventilation.

3. Ask for help

For more serious cases, call in a damp surveyor to find the cause of the as it might be an issue with pipes, a damaged roof or window frame. For those renting properties, it’s the landlord's responsibility to fix a mould or rising damp problem if it’s caused by structural damage under the Housing Health and Safety Rating System, so make sure you let them know what’s happening.

Methodology and sources:

Based on a seedlist of the England’s 33 most populated cities, the home insurance team at Compare the Market used a number of metrics to determine which city is the most affected by damp and mould:

  • Average monthly search volume - Google Analytics keyword planner
  • Average annual search volume - Google Analytics keyword planner
  • Damp score data - Table: ‘DA5102: damp and mould - areas’. Tabs 2021 and 2020 used - This is the most up to date and recent data available on this topic which was published September 2023. The team reached out to the Department for Levelling Up, Housing & Communities to find out when/if there will be an updated version of the data, but received no confirmation of when this would be.

Anna McEntee - Insurance comparison expert

Anna’s all about delivering fantastic insurance products at a great price. Value is the most important thing for Anna, as she cuts through the jargon and finds what’s most important and worth your hard-earned money.

Learn more about Anna