So, Your Rental Is Mouldy AF: Who Is Responsible for Sorting That Out?

So, Your Rental Is Mouldy AF: Who Is Responsible for Sorting That Out?

Sick of hearing the term La Niña yet? Same. And yet, we’re about to hear it a few more times, because she’s not quite done with us yet. As you’ll likely be aware by now, Australia (the east coast in particular) has dealt with exceptionally wet weather for what feels like forever now. This has led to tragic flooding across much of the country and at a much smaller scale, left loads of us dealing with an unwelcome guest in our homes: mould.

Now, if you’re a renter who has discovered mould has been appearing all over your home and belongings, you may be feeling at a loss about what you can do to sort this situation out. Believe us, we feel you there. For that reason, we chatted with Ray Ellis, Chief Executive of First National Real Estate, to learn more about your rights as a renter when it comes to mould management in your home.

Who is responsible for sorting out mould in a rental property?

Mould rentals australia
Who has to sort out mould in rentals? Credit: iStock

Okay, so when it comes to who must ensure the property is mould free, the situation depends on a couple of factors. Ellis highlighted that, generally speaking, while “landlords have a responsibility to ensure a property meets health and safety laws, who is actually responsible depends on how the mould developed”.

When it comes to your landlord’s responsibilities, this is what you should know:

  • Adequate ventilation must be provided in your rental property.
  • Windows must be in working order and fixed in a timely manner if broken.
  • Existing mould should be noted on your incoming condition report.
  • Tenants Victoria specifies that landlords must alert you if the property has received a repair notice for mould or damp in the past 3 years.

If mould develops close to the date of your arrival in the rental property, Fair Trading NSW notes that it may be considered pre-existing damage. So, in short – be sure to check for the appearance of mould when you first review the place and alert your landlord as soon as any issues arise (take photos!).

If you’re unsure what ‘inadequate ventilation’ may mean, Ellis explained that “if a bathroom or area of the home did not have a window or mechanical ventilation and mould became evident, such a space could be considered to have inadequate ventilation.”

In the cases where there are issues that are the responsibility of the landlord, you can bring that problem to them or to your real estate agent. And if there is a situation in which they don’t or are unable to address the problem, you can then escalate it.

Generally speaking, the services available to support renters across Australia are:

ACT Legal Aid ACT
New South Wales Tenants Union NSW
Northern Territory Darwin Community Legal Service
Queensland Tenants Queensland
South Australia Rent Right SA
Tasmania Tenants’ Union of Tasmania
Victoria Tenants Victoria
Western Australia Circle Green Community Legal

And Ellis added here that “in the event that mould is caused by a landlord’s failure to attend to structural problems, repair costs would be borne by the landlord, so there should be no requirement for compensation for costs borne by a tenant”.

On the other hand, if mould is developing because of the tenant’s failure to use fans or windows, then the fault (and responsibility) would lie with you. So, if you have windows and bathroom fans that do their job, please be sure to use them regularly.

Obviously, this is all generally speaking, and each situation will have its own unique set of conditions. So be sure you seek out the appropriate advice to ensure you’re properly informed if mould hits in these nasty wet months.

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