With heavy rainfall and high humidity, Australia’s climate makes mould a common issue in homes and rental properties.
And while finding mould in any property is a hassle, rental properties come with their own set of complications – responsibility, landlord obligations, tenancy agreements – it can be muddy waters.
In this article, we’ll break down what to do if you find mould in your rental, who is responsible and how to prevent it.
Read on to find out.
Found Mould In Your Rental? Here’s What To Do
A mould issue will escalate quickly if you don’t address it, so you’ll want to act fast. Here’s what to do:
Take Photos & Document Any Mould Damage
As soon as you notice mould, the first thing you should do is take photos and document any damage. This helps keep track of the issue and acts as evidence for your landlord or real estate agent.
Contact Your Landlord Or Real Estate Agent
If you notice any signs of damp or mould in your rental, contact your landlord or real estate agent immediately and request a professional mould remediation service for inspection.
The sooner you act the better, especially if you notice signs of mould at the beginning of your tenancy. If you flag the signs early, it may be considered as a pre-existing problem.
For reoccurring or large patches of mould, contact your landlord immediately.
Write them a letter or email with photos documenting the issue and outline what needs fixing by a certain date. Be sure to keep a copy of any communication between you and your landlord as evidence of notification.
If the mould is the result of a property defect and is making the property unsafe for habitation, it may be considered an urgent repair.
What If My Landlord Fails To Act?
Generally, most landlords will be happy to work with their tenants to remediate the mould.
Unfortunately, this is not always the case.
If your landlord fails to act in a sufficient time frame, tenants have the right to escalate the matter with Fair Trading or Consumer Affairs. They can be found here for NSW, QLD and VIC respectively.
Be sure to bring as much evidence as you can to support your case, such as photos and any correspondence between you and your landlord.
Can You Break A Lease Because Of Mould?
Residential Tenancy Law places a legal obligation on the landlord to keep their rental premises in a state ‘fit for habitation’. In short – landlords must make sure their rental property is not only livable, but also safe for tenants. This includes structural integrity, air quality, functioning appliances and (of course) making sure the home is mould-free.
According to the Residential Tenancy Act ‘If residential premises…becomes wholly or partly uninhabitable…the tenant may give [the landlord] a termination notice.’
If you believe the cause of the mould is not your fault, have evidence notifying your landlord, and they fail to act upon it within a certain timeframe – you may break your lease due to mould.
Disclaimer: Fair Trading bodies always review circumstances on a case-by-case basis. Every situation is different, therefore the advice given is general only. We recommend taking up serious mould infestations with your state’s fair trading bodies.
Landlord Or Tenant – Who Is Responsible For Mould In A Rental?
Determining the responsibility of mould growth in a rental property can be a tricky process. Let’s take a closer look:
Tenants have a direct responsibility to keep the property in a reasonably clean condition. So, if there is evidence the tenant has not taken measures to prevent or eliminate mould growth, they may be held responsible.
When Is A Tenant Responsible?
- Failure to inform your landlord of ongoing mould growth without taking preventative measures.
- Negating the obligation to inform your landlord of ongoing water leaks, water damage or any other circumstance that has resulted in mould growth.
- Failure to eliminate or take preventative measures against mould. This may include: allowing substantial ventilation and drying any wet areas.
Landlords also have an obligation to keep the premises in a reasonably clean state and have a further obligation to keep the property ‘fit for habitation’. This includes having adequate ventilation, plumbing and drainage.
When Is A Landlord Responsible?
- Mould as a result of a building defect such as leaking roof, faulty pipe or other structural faults.
- Failure to address ongoing condensation or rising damp issues.
- Failure to adequately clean the property before the tenant moves in.
- Failure to respond to a tenants concerns or reports of mould growth.
- If mould develops towards the beginning of a tenancy, it may be considered pre-existing damage.
How To Prevent Mould In Your Rental
To safeguard yourself against a mould issue, we recommend following these helpful tips both before and after you sign a lease.
Before You Sign The Lease
When inspecting potential properties to lease, keep an eye out for any building faults that may cause a problem down the line. This could be anything from leaking taps, poorly sealed windows or missing roof tiles.
If you notice issues and are still willing to proceed, be sure to raise them with the owner and get them to commit to fixing the issues in writing before signing the lease. This will protect you if your landlord fails to address the issues once you move in.
After You Sign The Lease
After signing your lease, you’ll want to understand what causes mould, as well as simple steps you can take to prevent mould from growing such as:
- Using ventilation and exhaust fans when cooking and showering.
- Opening windows and doors when weather permits.
- Cleaning up any spills as soon as possible.
- Cleaning up any small spots or patches of mould in mould-prone areas like showers as soon as you notice them.
A Free Inspection Is The First Step To A Mould Free Rental
Worried about mould becoming a problem in your rental? Call upon a professional mould remediation team like MouldMen for a free inspection.
While free, these inspections can often save you thousands in the long run by catching a mould infestation early.
The MouldMen team will inspect, treat and provide you with a Mould Management and Prevention Plan to ensure that your home or rental is kept safe and free from mould. Call us on 1300 60 59 60 to book your free inspection today.