Commissioner's Blog: Mould in rental properties
Mould or dampness around a home can pose a health risk and should be removed as soon as it’s noticed, yet complaints about mould in rental properties have risen.
Mould is a fungal growth that thrives on moisture. It can exacerbate health problems like asthma, respiratory infections and rashes, cause unpleasant smells, damage to buildings or contents and lead to expensive repairs.
The number of people who contacted Consumer Protection about mould in rental properties jumped this financial year, with complaints up 21.2 per cent. Enquiries were also up 9.1 per cent. In total, we received 383 enquiries and 40 complaints.
Preventing damage from mould requires a joint effort, and both tenants and lessors have responsibilities. Moisture should be restricted from entering a property (from roof leaks and floods for instance) and also from being generated indoors (from pipes or spills within the home). Ensuring adequate ventilation is also important.
A landlord could be in breach of a rental agreement if mould develops due to a lack of maintenance or repairs, for instance a broken exhaust fan or window (meaning a room can’t be ventilated), damp walls caused by plumbing issues, or a leaky roof, broken pipe or flood damage.
A tenant could be in breach if mould develops because they don’t aerate a bathroom using an exhaust fan or by opening a window, if they dry clothes indoors and don’t air the room afterwards, get carpet wet and fail to dry it out properly, or leave water pooling on tiles.
Where a tenant believes a landlord or agent hasn’t reasonably responded to a request to fix mould-related problems, they can issue a breach notice to the landlord and apply to the Magistrates Court for a court order for repairs or compensation, such as a reduction in rent until the repairs occur.
Tenants can also contact their Local Government and request an Environmental Health Officer assessment.
Tips on how to prevent and remove mould is also available via Healthy WA.
A cabinet containing black mould in a rental property that was reported to Consumer Protection
A kitchen cabinet in a rental property containing black mould that was reported to Consumer Protection
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