Out with the mould and in with the new…

Whether its summer or winter in Brisbane we cannot seem to escape the dreaded mould spore. But with the onset of winter it is timely to think again about how to prevent a costly and unhealthy problem for your rental property.

Depending on its extent, fixing the problem can involve anything from wiping the surface with vinegar or oil of cloves dissolved in water to specialist cleaning or replacement of a fixture or fitting. Asking a tenant to use harsh chemicals or getting up on ladders could constitute a breach of duty of care as there is a foreseeable risk of injury to do so. So sometimes we will need to recommend getting in a contractor to do the job. Either way its always best practice to address the issue as quickly as possible before mould sets in.

There are two causes for a build-up of mould. It will either be a maintenance issue requiring action by the landlord or action/ inaction on the part of the tenants.

Landlord Responsibility

• roof leaks

• broken pipes/plumbing

• blocked or damaged gutters causing overflow

• surface water leaking into the building

• wet building foundations such as rising damp

Some of the above might be picked up on a routine inspection but some require expert building inspection to ascertain whether there is an underlying risk not readily observable. Every year we encourage owners to employ the services of Property Safe to undertake a thorough inspection in addition to the three routine inspections we provide free as part of our management of your property. If you have not had a Property Safe inspection completed recently, we urge you to consider getting this done, not only to prevent mould but to identify any number of building risks.

Prevention is always better than paying for costly collateral damage to your property and, potentially, to tenant belongings. We have seen reported cases of mould resulting in significant professional cleaning bills, treating everything from curtains and blinds to tenant clothing.

As your property managers, we will inspect for obvious clues such as dampness, discoloration of pipes or paint work, swelling, paint flaking and trees overhanging gutters etc. If found, we will recommend prompt action to ensure you are not only looking after your investment but also meeting your obligations under the lease agreement to promptly attend to any maintenance.

Tenant Responsibility

• showering without switching on the exhaust fan or opening a window

• leaving tiled areas wet

• cooking without using a clean rangehood

• using a drier without ventilation

• failing to dry wet carpet

• insufficient cleaning

At our routine inspections we are looking out for these issues and will discuss with tenants to ensure they are meeting their responsibilities under the lease. They are responsible for keeping the rental property in a reasonable state of cleanliness, not intentionally or negligently causing or permitting damage, and informing their agent of any damage as soon as possible. If the tenant has caused the underlying problem that led to mould developing or hasn’t informed us of an issue with the property, they could be held responsible for mould damage and rectification costs.

If this discussion has you thinking you might need further advice, please contact your Property Management Team at Clark Real Estate on 3256 1600.