One rental problem that may be opening you up to a lawsuit

One rental problem that may be opening you up to a lawsuit
One rental problem that may be opening you up to a lawsuit

When owning a rental property, the safety of your tenants is in your hands. While this can be as a negative when it comes to investing in property, it’s still an aspect to be taken seriously. Disregard for the state of your rental can leave your tenant unwell and see you facing tribunal.

Last year, the Sunshine Coast Daily reported about a woman claiming ill health due to a mould infused rental. Property Observer has also asked many times “Is your tenant living in squalor?”.

In the United States a number of landlords have faced lawsuits regarding mould and its effect on the health of tenants.

Poorly ventilated properties are usually those most prone to mould and, while this can be in older homes, new homes do not get off the hook.

The video below is of a property in Sydney – just two years old. Of particular note are the mould spores around the children’s room and bed.

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A quick Google search online reveals forum post after forum post of different renters experiencing this problem, and many where tenants discuss respiratory difficulties and other ailments.

In the above video, Just Think and Oz Real Estate TV’s Edwin Almeida explains that they use special equipment to expose the extent of what some tenants live with.

“Our expert informed us; it is not what you see that you need to worry about as much as what needs to be seen with a blue light apparatus. The mould spores turn into shiny particles under the blue light and only then are we able to see where these toxins rest. In most cases the spores can be found on the other side of the homes, from where the naked eye sees the black stains. These spores become airborne and end up in the wardrobes, cold surfaces, enclosed areas and all over the furry toys children play with daily,” Almeida explains.

“In most of the newly built apartment blocks post 2006, I have seen that the wet areas namely; bathrooms, laundries and kitchens, don’t have windows and these areas rely on mechanical ventilation to extract the humidity out of the room. Most of the time, the ventilation filters are seldom cleaned and at first they may be working at full capacity. However, the flexible ducting, which is meant to carry the moist air out, is usually compressed and twisted during the construction.”

In a nutshell, the mechanical ventilation is failing. With fewer windows, smaller rooms and smaller rooms, ventilation problems are increasingly becoming a complaint.

Investors dealing with a rental property with a mould issue should consider the following recommendations from Almeida:

  • Act promptly on requests from tenants when they report musky smells in the property.
  • Identify dust-riddled areas and encourage these to be cleaned by the tenants regularly when conducting a mid-term reports. Dust and moisture is the breeding ground for mould.
  • Where possible assist the tenants by providing a dehumidifier to extract moist air from the apartment.
  • Encourage tenants to ventilate the apartments as much as possible even in winter.
  • Keep wet areas (rooms) ventilated and doors open when in use, mainly the laundry area when using the dryer.
  • Do not clean mould with bleach. Use commercial white vinegar with a tenth portion of methylated spirits andspray on effected surface then wipe clean. Re-spray the effected surface area with a fine mist of the same solution andallow it to dry, creating a barrier.
  • Do not paint over mould without first cleaning or properly preparing the surface area.
  • Contact a mould specialist immediately if the infestation is prevalent, as it is quite possible the entire home will require treatment as mould spores are airborne.

Jennifer Duke

Jennifer Duke

Jennifer Duke was a property writer at Property Observer

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