When you’re renting a property, discovering mould in your home can be cause for concern. We covered some of the basic issues about mould in rental properties in PART I of Mould Management For Landlords.
Here in Part II, we look at what you can do if your rental property has mould. Ideas on how to get rid of it…when to call in the professionals…and what your landlord insurance has to say about the problem.
Getting Rid Of Mould In Rental Properties
When it comes to mould, it’s like the old saying – an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. In other words, if you can nip the problem in the bud, it should prevent a small problem becoming a much bigger one!
Your Tenants Have Some Responsibility To Keep Mould At Bay When Renting
Realistically – most structures can develop superficial mold in certain areas under the right conditions, notably humidity, poor ventilation, and lack of regular cleaning and maintenance. Hot spots include the bathroom, laundry, and kitchen because damp warmth can accumulate in these spots.
Cracked bathroom tiles, out-of-order exhaust fan, a broken pipe or other plumbing issues can all lead to fungal growth.
Tenants do have a responsibility to maintain the property they’re renting, including removing this type of mould, and taking reasonable care to reduce conditions that cause it. However, they aren’t responsible for mould that occurs due to structural and ventilation problems with the structure itself.
The Landlord is Responsible for Mould Caused by Structural and Building Defects
If your property develops this latter type of mould, it needs to be assessed immediately. You’ll have to determine what is causing the growth, and then fix the problem at the source. If you don’t, the mould will just keep growing back. If it does, your rental is then essentially not fit for occupancy.
You’ll also have to remove the mould already present. Depending on how long the problem has been there, this may require a professional. Alternatively, you can probably tackle small regions yourself.
Note though that cleaning will not be a permanent solution unless you identify and fix the reason WHY the mould is growing in the first place.
NB: you are required, by law, to:
1. Provide safe, habitable housing for your tenants, which includes ensuring it is mould-free, and
2. Take appropriate remedial action to rectify such issues.
In particular, if the mould is caused by circumstances beyond the control of your tenants (i.e. by structural issues – such as a leaky roof, or poor property repair – like a broken exhaust fan and maintenance standards – like lack of proper ventilation), you as the landlord, or your agent, are responsible for cleaning and removing the mould.
Removing Mould From Your Rental Property
There are a number of household products that can be turned into very effective DIY mold removers:
- White vinegar
- Hydrogen peroxide
- Tea tree oil
- Baking soda / Bicarb Soda
- Bleach – only suitable for non-porous surfaces like glass and tiles
- Ammonia – like bleach, only effective on non-porous surfaces. Also a common ingredient in commercial mould removal products
We will shortly have available for you more information on using these products to remove small problems of mould here.
Before you start – an important note about removing mould:
Some chemicals can be a health risk in themselves!
So, be sure to use personal protective equipment (PPE) and ensure you have adequate ventilation, or use an extractor fan, when working with chemicals to remove mould, even household ones. Bleach and ammonia are very harsh. They can also be dangerous if mixed together, or with acetic acid (vinegar). Mixing bleach and vinegar together for example produces toxic chlorine gas. Similarly, adding ammonia to bleach creates chloramine gas, which isn’t good for your health either.
Apart from this, mould is also a health issue. Breathing in mould spores is not healthy, and some types of mould are quite hazardous.
When To Call The Professionals To Remove Mould In Your Rental
If you have large surfaces affected by mould, or it keeps coming back even with preventative measures in place, you’ll probably need professional help to remove it. In fact, as mentioned earlier, recurring mould often points to an underlying problem or issue with the building itself and as the landlord, this is your responsibility to resolve.
What To Do If You Have Ongoing Mould Problems In A Rental
Contact your property manager if you have one; this is where employing Position One to look after your rental property can pay dividends. Not only do we conduct regular inspections that spot mouldy issues early on, we also take immediate action to rectify the situation.
Contact your landlord or property manager.
Note however that as a tenant it’s vital you do your bit to help keep your rental home mould-free. We covered some of these in Mould Management for Landlords: Part I but here’s a quick recap:
Tips For Tenants For Keeping Your Rental Home Mould-Free
- Keep temperatures consistent throughout the house as far as possible
- Disperse heat evenly throughout the house – a series of small heaters work better than one large one, particularly in large houses or those with a lot of closed off areas. Check this Choice article for good heating options for renters.
- When using appliances, or doing things, that generate moist heat, ensure the room has plenty of adequate ventilation, or use exhaust fans.
- Wipe away condensation on surfaces.
- Attack any mould as soon as you see it. Keep a bottle of your favourite mould remover handy wherever mould has the potential to grow – kitchen, bathroom, and laundry. Remember – something like a vinegar/tea tree oil solution can be sprayed on surfaces and left.
- Open curtains and blinds during the day to let light and sunlight into rooms. This helps dry out the air in the rooms.
Does Your Landlord Insurance Cover Mould?
Unfortunately, because mould, mildew, fungus, and algae are all considered preventable, they are standard exclusions in most Australian landlord / building and contents policies.
Therefore, if you do have a mould problem in your investment property, you won’t be able to make a claim for any damage it causes.
Efficient, Effective Property Managers For Your Brisbane Investment Property
Having a reputable, experienced property manager, like Position One, in your corner will ensure you meet – and exceed – your responsibilities as a landlord.
At Position One, we are committed to keeping your rental investment clean and habitable, including dealing with mould issues. We have a 20+ year history and well-established track record of excellence in property management and we know the humid SE Queensland climate well…
Contact us today to talk about your property management requirements.