Don't let mould get the better of you - Tenants bulletin 43

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23 June 2023

Don't let mould get the better of you

The risk of mould growing in your home increases during wet or humid weather, and after major storms, but there are ways to stop mould from spreading.

What is mould?

Mould is a fungus that grows in damp places. You will know you have it if you can smell an unpleasant musty odour, or you may see it growing on ceilings and walls, in cupboards and along the grout between tiles. It starts off as small black dots that spread quickly.

It can cause serious health issues, such as problems breathing (asthma, blocked nose or sinuses), rashes and watery, itchy or red eyes.

When mould dries out, it releases spores that can be breathed in. These can grow in your lungs and be life threatening. Older people, babies and children, and people with a respiratory illness or weakened immune system are most at risk of developing an illness caused by mould.

If you or others living in your home suffer health problems after coming into contact with mould, contact your doctor.

Who is responsible?

It takes a joint effort from both you and your landlord to reduce the risk of mould.

Opening windows and doors regularly to allow fresh air to circulate and dry out rooms, even during cold weather, is an easy way to minimise the risk of mould. You should also turn on exhaust fans when using bathrooms, kitchens and laundries to remove steam.

Any water leaks and damp patches on walls and ceilings need to be reported to your landlord as soon as you find them.

If mould develops because of damage you have caused or from not keeping your home clean, and ventilated you may be responsible to fix it. This could be mould caused because you spill liquid on carpets and don’t dry them, or you leave pools of water in the bathroom and allow scum to build up.

Generally, your landlord is responsible for mould caused by poor ventilation, such as if windows can’t be securely opened, or if they have not provided exhaust fans in wet areas.

Mould caused by a lack of maintenance or damage to the property, such as leaking gutters or windows, issues with the building (cracked walls or rising damp) or leaking plumbing, will need to be fixed by your landlord. Mould can damage building materials and structures, and also the contents of your home.

If the mould is very bad, you can ask your local council to send an Environmental Health Officer to inspect the mould and see if your home is safe to live in.

If mould causes damage to your belongings, you can ask your landlord to pay to replace them, or you can apply to the Magistrates Court for compensation. You have to be able to show that you took action to minimise the damage to your belongings.

Getting rid of mould – cleaning tip

Mould should be removed as soon as it appears as it is likely to return unless you also take steps to treat the cause of the problem.

The Health Department recommends you follow these steps:

  1. Scrub mould off hard surfaces using soapy water. The physical action of scrubbing is the most important component as all the mould must be physically removed to prevent regrowth. Make sure you scrub up to 50cm from the edge of the visible mould as there may be new growth that is not visible to the naked eye.
  2. Clean up any mould residue caused by the scrubbing. Use a damp cloth or vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter.
  3. Dry the area.
  4. Find and fix the source of the moisture.

Other products that can be used to treat mould including mould remover that is sold in supermarkets or natural anti-fungal agents such as vinegar, tea-tree oil or clove oil.

Products that are developed to treat mould outdoors, including around swimming pools or spas, should not be used to treat mould inside your home.

If the mould covers a large area, or keeps coming back, it should be treated by a mould removal professional.

More information about mould and how to treat it is available on the HealthyWA website.

If you have reported a mould issue to your landlord, but they are not fixing it, contact Consumer Protection on 1300 30 40 54 or email your complaint to We can offer you help and advice, and contact your landlord on your behalf.

Consumer Protection
Last updated 23 Jun 2023

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