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Landlord or tenant — who’s on the hook for the mould?

17 June 2019 Tim Neary

Mould in a rental usually originates in one of two places: maintenance issues or from the action or inaction of tenants — which means fixing it is the responsibility of either the landlord or the tenant, according to RentCover managing director Sharon Fox-Slater. Here’s how to know for sure.

Landlord

Ms Fox-Slater said it is the landlord’s responsibility to remedy mould problems caused by structural issues, or stemming from a lack of maintenance or repair.

She said these issues are typically a leak in the roof or faulty pipe, malfunctioning gutters causing overflow into the property, surface water leaking into the building and wet building foundations such as rising damp or indoor plumbing leaks.

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Ms Fox-Slater said landlords could be in breach of the tenancy agreement if they don’t fulfill these obligations.

“Landlords are required to keep the property in a reasonable state of repair and ensure all repairs are undertaken within a reasonable time frame.

“A tenant may be able to seek compensation from the landlord if mould damages their personal property and the landlord has failed to take reasonable steps.”

Tenant

Ms Fox-Slater said the tenant is responsible for cleaning up outbreaks if it is their action that resulted in the mould forming in the first place.

She said this is typically by showering without switching on the exhaust fan or opening a window, leaving pools of water on tiles, cooking without turning on the extractor fan, and using a drier without ventilation or drying clothes indoors or getting the carpet wet then neglecting to properly dry it out.

“Tenants are responsible for keeping the rental property in a reasonable state of cleanliness,” said Ms Fox-Slater.

“If the tenant has caused the underlying problem that led to mould developing, or hasn’t informed you or their landlord of an issue with the property, they could be held responsible for mould damage and may have to compensate their landlord.”

PM

Ms Fox-Slater said PMs should keep an eye out for potential problems during inspections.

“You should then ensure landlords remedy the issue promptly. Scheduling routine maintenance such as cleaning out gutters should also be on your to-do list.

“Also, remind tenants of the need to adequately ventilate the property — air the home by opening doors and windows, use exhaust fans in bathrooms when showering and for 30 mins afterwards, open a window when the clothes drier is on, use the extractor fan over the stove.”

Landlord or tenant — who’s on the hook for the mould?
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