Mould – who is responsible?

Mould – who is responsible?

With shorter days, less sunshine and windows often kept closed during winter, windows and walls can become traps for the presence of mould. The question is, who is responsible to fix the problem – the landlord or the tenant?

Inadequate ventilation in a home is the main cause of mould. If there is a high presence of mould found in a property, it has the potential to lead to health problems. Therefore it is an issue that must be resolved promptly. The question is, who is responsible for getting rid of the mould, the landlord or the tenant? Like so many things in property management, the answer is not black and white. It depends on how the mould originated.

  1. If the mould was caused by a structural defect in the property or a failure to attend to a repair or maintenance issue, the landlord is responsible for addressing the mould problem.
  2. If, on the other hand, the mould was caused by the action or inaction of the occupants in the property, removing the mould is the tenant’s

Let’s take a look at a couple of examples.

When the landlord is responsible for addressing the mould problem

Mould issues for which the landlord is responsible generally result from things like:

  • A roof leak or faulty downpipe
  • Blocked or faulty gutters
  • Poor drainage causing surface water to collect and seep into the building
  • Rising damp
  • Plumbing leaks
  • Inadequate or deteriorating wet area wall linings

If a landlord does not take reasonable steps to resolve issues like these, they could be in breach of their obligations under the tenancy agreement. The tenant may also seek compensation if the mould damages their personal property or causes them to become unwell.

When the tenant is responsible for addressing the mould problem

In line with the tenant’s obligations to maintain the rental property in keeping with its original condition, mould is a tenant’s responsibility when they:

  • Fail to use the exhaust fan or open a window when showering
  • Cook without using the extractor fan (where provided)
  • Use a dryer without adequate ventilation
  • Allow water to pool on the floor
  • Fail to keep the property clean

Prevention is better than the cure

As Property Manager, look out for potential issues that could lead to the growth of mould during routine inspections. Take photos and keep good records of everything you find.

If you do come across an issue, advise the landlord or tenant (depending on who is responsible, as per the above explanations) to remedy the issue promptly.

Schedule routine maintenance such as clearing gutters and trimming overhanging branches (landlord’s responsibility to complete/pay for).

Other preventative tips include:

  • Ensuring the property is adequately ventilated.
  • Advising the landlord to consider installing an exhaust fan in all wet areas.
  • Suggesting tenants open windows and doors during the warmer, sunnier times of the day, if possible.
  • Letting tenants know there are products readily available to purchase that are designed to collect excess moisture (where applicable) and make a suggestion to landlords that they assess the property to find and solve the source of the problem if this is an issue.

The ultimate solution

The most comprehensive way to ensure safety for tenants and provide peace of mind for landlords and your agency year-round is to have a professional PropertySafe Health & Safety Evaluation Report conducted. The report encompasses 14 hazard groups and over 120 safety issues, including mould, slip hazards, fire safety and blocked gutters. Conducted by fully qualified safety inspectors, the report alerts the landlord to all relevant safety risks, including structural issues that could cause mould, and provides practical options to mitigate those risks, making your job easier and protecting all parties. The cost of the report is fully tax deductible for landlords. To learn more, call PropertySafe on 1300 350 000 today.

By recommending landlords invest in a PropertySafe report, your agency will be provided with Australia and New Zealand’s leading rental property maintenance software, Maintenance Manager, free of charge. Call 1300 155 888 to request a demonstration and see how much time and effort you could save, not to mention how much risk you could avoid, with this easy to use cloud-based software.

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