How to break the mould in rental properties
With parts of Queensland experiencing prolonged wet and humid conditions, mould is becoming a problem in rental properties.
Mould is usually easily detectable as stains on walls, ceilings and other surfaces or otherwise by an unpleasant, musty smell.
According to Queensland Health, people with a normal immune system are not likely to be affected by mould. However, some people are allergic to mould and those with asthma, low immunity, lung problems or chronic disease may develop health problems.
When is mould the responsibility of the tenant or property owner?Notwithstanding the fact that the Residential Tenancies and Rooming Accommodation Act 2008 (RTRA Act) does not make a specific reference to mould, a Lessor must ensure it complies with Section 185 of the RTRA Act.
At the start and during the tenancy, the owner must ensure that the property and its inclusions are:
- Clean and maintained;
- fit for the tenant to live in; and
- in good repair.
Properties prone to mould due to factors such as age, structural issues, location, or the absence of adequate ventilation would see the property manager/owner more likely to be responsible.
If the tenant causes the mould, they would be responsible for cleaning it and paying for any damage caused. Low level infestations of mould can usually be cleaned using everyday household cleaning agents.
A major mould incursion caused by flooding or extensive leaking will require professional mould specialists to clean any damage to the property.
The RTA has further advice on mould here.
Flood case scenarioSelinda Randall is an REIQ Property Management Support Service team member and also a practising agent.
One of her rental properties previously went under in the 2011 Brisbane flood and the tenant, owner and herself expected the property to be inundated again during the February deluge in South East Queensland.
The tenants, a young family with children and a dog, evacuated the property on the Friday of the flood disaster. Fortunately, the water reached the door but didn't inundate the property.
However, there were substantial roof leaks and mould quickly formed in every room of the house - over the ceilings and some walls.
Randall says the tenant's son has a severe allergy to mould so there was no way the family could return to the property.
All parties agreed the property had become unliveable in that condition. Randall says the owner ceased the rent immediately.
Says Randall, "We knew it would be some time before the insurance assessor and roofer got to the property so all parties agreed that, if we could organise a professional mould clean, then it may be that the tenants could move back in."
In addition, a handyman was called in to put some temporary roofing tape across the cracked tiles on the roof to prevent any other water leaks.
Randall says the tenants were present on and off during two days of drying and cleaning at the property. They were then invited to be present while the mould specialists tested the air to ensure it was clear of spores.
"Even though the tenants were only out of the house for one week, the landlord waived two weeks rent for the inconvenience and the tenants have now moved back into the property," she says.
"Everyone is happy while we wait for the insurance and roofer."
In situations like this, the REIQ encourages all parties to communicate with each other and work together.
 Residential Tenancies and Rooming Accommodation Act 2008, Section 185.
15 Nov 2019
3 min read
Are your property transactions safe from cybercrime?
The property market is the perfect playground for cybercriminals - large sums of money are constantly being transferred between parties with the majority of communications sent via email.
15 Nov 2019
5 min read
Be careful what you do with confidential information
The recent settlement of a claim between a real estate agency and a former employee serves as a timely reminder to real estate professionals that utilising a former employer's confidential client information can be very costly.