Rainfall brings mould issues
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.