Rain­fall brings mould is­sues

Avon Valley Gazette - - NEWS - With Act­ing Con­sumer Pro­tec­tion Com­mis­sioner David Hill­yard

MOULD can be a big prob­lem in rentals.

While WA’s high rain­fall this year has been good for farm­ers and the dams, one con­se­quence is a spike in in­quiries and com­plaints to Con­sumer Pro­tec­tion about mould in rental prop­er­ties.

It is a sig­nif­i­cant is­sue with about 1200 phone in­quiries and com­plaints re­ceived since Jan­uary 2015, mostly dur­ing win­ter. Ten­ants are gen­er­ally con­cerned about the im­pact of the mould on their health and the fail­ure of their land­lord or prop­erty man­ager to rem­edy the prob­lem.

When mould dries out or is dis­turbed, it re­leases spores that can cause ill­ness in some peo­ple or ex­ac­er­bate ex­ist­ing health is­sues, such as asthma, res­pi­ra­tory in­fec­tions, si­nus prob­lems, rashes and wa­tery, itchy red eyes. It can also cause un­pleas­ant odours and dam­age to build­ing ma­te­ri­als, con­tents and struc­tures.

The pre­ven­tion of mould in a rental prop­erty re­quires a joint ef­fort by both the land­lord and the ten­ants. Mois­ture must be both restricted from en­ter­ing the premises and from be­ing gen­er­ated in­doors.

Com­mon causes of mois­ture in the home in­clude sur­face wa­ter leak­ing into a build­ing; wet build­ing foun­da­tions or ris­ing damp; rain leak­ing in through a roof or walls; show­er­ing, cook­ing and boil­ing with­out ex­haust fans or open win­dows; use of clothes dry­ers; and in­door plumb­ing leaks or liq­uid spills.

A land­lord could be in breach of the rental agree­ment if mould de­vel­ops as a re­sult of not at­tend­ing to main­te­nance mat­ters re­ported by the ten­ant.

A ten­ant may be in breach of their rental agree­ment, if mould de­vel­ops be­cause they get car­pets wet and fail to dry them out prop­erly, don’t aer­ate a bath­room by us­ing ex­haust fans or open­ing win­dows, leave pools of wa­ter on the tiles out­side the shower and let scum build up, or dry cloth­ing in­doors and don’t air the room.

If mould causes dam­age to premises or be­long­ings, the af­fected party can seek to ob­tain an or­der from the Mag­is­trates Court for com­pen­sa­tion.

Call Con­sumer Pro­tec­tion on 1300 30 40 54 or email con­sumer@ dmirs. wa. gov. au.

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