Mould within homes is a common, though potentially hazardous, occurrence. Generally, mould is caused by:
- Elevated humidity
- Insufficient building ventilation
- Household clutter
- Inadequate bathroom and laundry ventilation.
If mould is left untreated, there is a potential health hazard for the occupants.
From time to time, mould may be caused by moisture ingress from building or plumbing defects. When this occurs, in addition to having the mould cleaned, it is necessary to fix the cause. If you are a lot owner, the building or plumbing defect may be in the common property. Each strata plan is different, but if it is the case the cause is common property, you must notify your owners corporation immediately so that they can address the problem. An owners corporation who does not address the problem may be liable to an owner who suffers a reasonably foreseeable loss (such as damage to lot property fixtures or fittings, loss of rental income) caused by the defective common property.
In addition, if you are a lot owner and the lot is rented out, as a landlord you should be aware of your general obligations to keep the residential premises in a reasonable state of cleanliness and fit for habitation. Whether a property is fit for habitation will depend on the issue. The Residential Tenancy Act 2010 (“RT Act”) provides a non-exhaustive list of issues that would cause a premises to be unfit for habitation, one of those is roofs, ceilings or windows that allow water penetration into the premises. Case law has established that the standard for whether a circumstance makes a lot unfit for habitation shall be measured against contemporary living standards. The RT Act does not state that the presence of mould automatically means a premises is unfit for habitation. However due to the known health risks of mould, if it is being caused by the premises, or the common property servicing the premises, then the landlord should take immediate action.
This is general information and should not be considered to be legal advice. You should obtain legal advice specific to your individual situation.
Author: Gemma Lumley