Landlord Advice

Who Is Responsible for Cleaning Mould in a Rental Property?

When it comes to the issue of who is responsible for cleaning mould in a rental property, things are never straightforward. Many factors come into play, including legal obligations, maintenance responsibilities, and the impact of local housing laws and regulations. So, if you

  • Want to know who is responsible for cleaning mould – the landlord or tenant;
  • Want to know the various factors that might affect this decision.

Then read along. By the end of the article, you should have a good sense of everybody’s rights and responsibilities when it comes to mould in the rental property.

Signs of mould and potential health risks

Mould growth can occur in various environments, and rental properties are no exception. You need to identify the signs of mould growth early on and address the issue, as it can pose health risks and make the property uninhabitable. Here are the common signs of mould growth and the potential health risks:

  • Musty odour – One of the most noticeable signs of mould growth is a musty, earthy, or damp smell. If you detect a persistent unpleasant odour in an area, it could mean you already have mould.
  • Visible patches – Mould often appears as black, green, brown, or white patches or discolouration on walls, ceilings, floors, and other surfaces. These patches may spread over time if not treated.
  • Water damage – Any recent or recurring water damage, such as leaks, flooding, or condensation, can create a perfect environment for mould growth. Stained or discoloured walls or ceilings are indicators of water-related issues that may lead to mould development.
  • Allergic reactions – Exposure to mould can trigger allergic reactions in some people. Sneezing, coughing, wheezing, nasal congestion, itchy or watery eyes, skin irritation, and throat discomfort are all possible symptoms you may experience.
  • Respiratory issues – Prolonged exposure to mould spores can cause respiratory issues, especially in those who suffer from asthma, allergies, or compromised immune systems. Mould has the potential to aggravate pre-existing respiratory disorders and perhaps induce respiratory infections.
  • Fatigue and headaches – Some people may experience persistent fatigue, headaches, difficulty concentrating, or brain fog when exposed to mould for extended periods.
  • Increased sensitivity – Continued exposure to mould can heighten sensitivity to its presence. Even a small amount of mould in the environment may trigger strong reactions in susceptible individuals.

Now that you know the indicators of a mould infestation, this is why you need to take measures as quickly as possible:

  1. Health concerns – Prolonged exposure to mould can be harmful to one’s health, especially in fragile people, such as children and the elderly.
  2. Property damage – Mould can cause structural damage to buildings and personal belongings. It can cause plasterboard, wood, carpets and furniture to degrade, resulting in costly repairs or replacements.
  3. Uninhabitable conditions – If mould growth is left unaddressed, it can render a property uninhabitable. Local housing authorities may consider a property unfit for living if mould poses significant health risks, potentially resulting in legal and financial consequences for landlords.
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What usually causes mould in properties?

Here are some of the most common causes of mould formation. Some you might already know, while others might be new to you.

  • Moisture – Moisture is a primary contributor to mould growth. Excessive humidity, water leaks, or flooding can create a damp environment that promotes mould development. That’s why areas prone to moisture accumulation, such as bathrooms, kitchens, basements, or areas with poor insulation, are particularly susceptible.
  • Water leaks Leaks from pipes, roofs, windows, or appliances can introduce moisture into the property, leading to mould growth if left unaddressed. Mind you, even minor leaks over time can contribute to mould formation.
  • Inadequate ventilation – Insufficient airflow and ventilation can result in moisture buildup, increasing the chances of mould growth. Poorly ventilated bathrooms, kitchens without extractor fans, or properties with blocked or malfunctioning ventilation systems are at higher risk.
  • Condensation – Condensation occurs when warm, humid air comes into contact with cooler surfaces. Condensation can collect on walls, windows, and ceilings without sufficient ventilation or insulation, thus producing an environment perfect for mould to grow.
  • Poor property maintenance – Neglected maintenance can contribute to mould growth. Failure to address issues like roof leaks, plumbing problems, or faulty gutters can lead to water intrusion and subsequent mould formation.
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Who is responsible for mould in a rental property?

In general, under local housing rules or regulations, the landlord has a legal obligation to maintain safe and habitable living conditions. This includes addressing any existing mould problems and maintaining the property’s structural integrity to prevent moisture issues that can lead to mould growth. Landlords should take prompt action to remediate mould problems, such as rising damp and the likes, ensure proper ventilation, and conduct necessary repairs to prevent future mould issues.

On the other hand, tenants have responsibilities to maintain cleanliness and report any issues promptly. They should take steps to prevent or minimise moisture-related problems that can contribute to mould growth. So, if you wonder, “Can a tenant be blamed for mould?”, yes, when they fail to prevent or report it in time, however, it’s always the landlord who has to deal with the problem.

Still, it’s always recommended to follow the best practices for mould prevention:

  • Proper ventilation – Use exhaust fans or open windows when cooking or showering to promote airflow and reduce moisture buildup.
  • Cleaning practices – Regularly clean and maintain the property to prevent the accumulation of dust, dirt, or moisture that can contribute to mould growth.
  • Control humidity – Use dehumidifiers in places prone to high humidity levels, such as bathrooms, basements, or kitchens.
  • Prompt reporting – Report any water leaks, plumbing issues, or signs of mould growth to the landlord immediately after you find them.
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What could be the consequences of a mould problem in rental property?

A mould problem in a rental property can have several consequences for both landlords and tenants.

Consequences for landlords

The legal consequences for landlords who fail to remedy the problem can get quite severe.

  • Breach of legal obligations – Landlords have a legal responsibility to provide habitable living conditions, including addressing mould issues. A landlord may be in violation of their legal responsibilities if they neglect to take the appropriate steps to address mould or other major property maintenance concerns.
  • Tenant remedies – Tenants may have the right to seek remedies under local housing laws or regulations. This can include filing complaints with local housing authorities, seeking court orders for repairs, or even terminating the tenancy agreement without penalty due to uninhabitable conditions caused by mould.
  • Legal liability – Landlords who neglect mould remediation can face potential legal liability if tenants suffer harm or health issues as a result of mould exposure. Tenants may sue their landlord for bodily injury, seeking compensation for medical bills, pain and suffering, and other damages.
  • Fines and penalties – Landlords who fail to address mould or other property maintenance concerns may face fines or penalties levied by local housing authorities or regulatory agencies in various countries.
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Consequences for tenants

The tenant can also face some consequences if they fail to report the problem in time.

  • Property damage compensation – Ignoring a mould problem can allow it to spread and cause further damage to the property. The tenant may be held responsible for any resulting damage if they fail to report the issue in a timely manner.
  • Limited legal recourse – If the tenant fails to report the mould problem promptly, it may weaken their legal position. Landlords may argue that the tenant contributed to the extent of the damage by not reporting it promptly, potentially affecting their ability to seek remedies or compensation.
  • Deposit deduction – If there are no evident structural causes of a mould infestation and it is obvious that the damage was caused by the tenant, the landlord may seek to deduct the cost of remediation from the tenant’s deposit.
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Can I refuse to pay rent if I have mould?

A very popular question, but the answer is no. You do not have the authority to withhold rent for mould as a tenant since you might be evicted and the house confiscated by the landlord. Instead, you can do the repairs yourself and recover the expense afterwards. However, before you begin any repairs, you may require legal advice from your housing disrepair attorneys to establish how to proceed.

The benefits of finding adequate professional assistance on time

Finding adequate professional assistance in a timely manner is crucial when dealing with a mould issue in a rental property. Let’s explore when professional assistance may be required and the importance of finding a reliable expert to address the problem.

  1. Extensive or hidden mould infestations – If the mould growth is widespread or hidden within walls, ceilings, or other concealed areas, professional assistance is often necessary. Experts have the expertise, experience, and specialist equipment needed to establish the degree of the infestation and the best course of action.
  2. Complex sources and HVAC systems – Mould problems stemming from complex sources, such as plumbing or HVAC systems, require professional expertise. Trained professionals can assess the underlying causes, repair any leaks or faults, and implement preventive measures to mitigate future mould growth.
  3. Health concerns – When occupants have allergies, sensitivities, or pre-existing respiratory conditions, it’s important to involve professionals. They can perform thorough assessments to identify the specific mould species present and develop a safe and effective remediation plan to minimise health risks.
  4. Extensive mould growth – If the mould growth is extensive or cannot be effectively cleaned with homemade solutions, professional assistance is necessary. Professionals have access to specialised cleaning techniques and products to ensure thorough removal and prevent further contamination.
  5. Prevention of further complications – Reliable experts can not only remediate the mould problem but also provide guidance on preventive measures. They can offer advice on improving ventilation, managing humidity levels, and implementing strategies to reduce the likelihood of future mould growth.
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Finding a reliable professional to address the mould issue is vital to avoid further complications. At Fantastic Services, we offer a range of services to assist with mould-related issues, such as emergency plumbing services for addressing leaks and domestic cleaning services for thorough cleaning and maintenance. The professionals we work with can help identify and remediate mould problems while providing valuable guidance to prevent further complications.

Take action now for a mould-free rental property.

Book your cleaning service and experience a fresh and pristine living space.

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Takeaways

  • Identifying the signs of mould growth, such as musty odours and visible patches, is crucial in addressing the issue promptly and avoiding potential health risks.
  • Mould exposure can cause allergic responses, respiratory troubles, exhaustion, and other health concerns, especially in people who already have a medical condition.
  • Landlords have a legal responsibility to provide safe and habitable living conditions, including addressing mould issues, while tenants have responsibilities to maintain cleanliness and report any issues promptly.
  • Addressing mould growth as soon as possible is important to minimise health concerns, prevent property damage, and avoid rendering the property uninhabitable.
  • The obligation for removing mould in a rental property might vary depending on a number of circumstances, including the source of the mould growth and the conditions of the leasing agreement.

Disclaimer: Every piece of information here is meant for informational and educational purposes only. So please, do not use this as a definitive legal advice. Fantastic Services encourages you to seek authority professional counsel before you decide to act upon what you have read. For more information, check our disclaimer.

Image source: Andrey_Popov / Shutterstock.com

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