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Unresolved mould costs landlords $5.7k

By Orana Durney-Benson
16 January 2024 | 10 minute read
act civil administrative tribunal reb hke4g9

In a reminder of the obligations on landlords, an ACT tribunal has ordered Canberran landlords to pay compensation for failing to address a mould issue in their rental property within the required time frame.

The ACT Civil & Administrative Tribunal (ACAT) has ordered the property owners to compensate a tenant $5,714 for “loss of amenity” in their Duffy house due to a longstanding mould problem in the bathroom and surrounding areas.

According to official documents, Berkan Miskin moved into the suburban Canberra home on 3 November 2022 after viewing it virtually by video. Advised that it was an older property, the property manager had provided Mr Miskin with an instruction sheet on cleaning and keeping mould away.

The case background revealed that two small areas of mould were known to the property manager when the tenant moved into the property.

One week later, Mr Miskin notified the property owner Helen Robinson of “several problems with the property, including mould in the bathroom, cracked and damaged bathroom tiles, a loose vanity, and a lack of a drain in the bathroom floor”.

In January 2023, it was reported that the property was cleaned by Steamatic, but no repairs were undertaken.

At a routine inspection in April 2023, Mr Miskin revealed that he did not clean the bathroom very frequently, as he showered at the gym and used his bathroom infrequently. While the owners had asserted that infrequent cleaning exacerbated the mould growth, this was not accepted by tribunal member Elizabeth Trickett.

Mr Miskin filed a claim with ACAT in June 2023, after several repair requests were not taken up.

Work to address the mould took place in August 2023 following an order from ACAT. Graham Singleton, owner of The Mould Group, gave evidence that the mould was not caused by Mr Miskin’s conduct, stating that the mould issue had developed over a “long period of time”, and noting that water had penetrated below the tiles, into the wall space and the timber framing. Expert reports concluded that the mould problem was the responsibility of the property owner, not the tenant.

Other pre-existing issues, including a loose bathroom vanity and essential tree pruning, were addressed after 16 weeks, and others were not addressed at all.

ACAT concluded that the property “was not in a reasonable state of repair at the commencement of the tenancy” and that Mr Miskin “was unable to enjoy the full amenity of the property” due to the problems with mould and damp.

Mr Miskin also developed a respiratory problem related to mould exposure, which ACAT considered in their decision.

Unresolved mould costs landlords $5.7k
act civil administrative tribunal reb hke4g9
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