Rental Property – mould and mildew. Who is responsible?

It’s been estimated that a third of New Zealand houses suffer from damp and Auckland is particularly susceptible with its humid climate. Damp houses encourage the growth of moulds and fungi and that can be a health risk to your tenants, and a risk to the value of your rental returns.

But who is responsible for mould and mildew in a rental property – landlord or tenant?

Past Tenancy Tribunal decisions have found that minimising mould is a joint tenant/landlord responsibility. A landlord should ensure the premises is mould free before tenancy commences and the tenants should ensure the rental property remains that way for the term of their occupation. They could do this through a house inspection, which will provide a full report.

Mould grows in places of high humidity but humidity can be decreased by ensuring the property has adequate ventilation and heating. Before a tenant moves into the property, landlords should check that it is insulated, look for leaking pipes via the services of a master plumber, check for blocked gutters and consider providing secure window stays so that tenants can leave the home ‘airing’ while they’re away.

The tenant is responsible for keeping the premises reasonably clean and tidy, including trying to keep their house in a condition that doesn’t encourage mould and damp. It can be a good idea for you or your Property Manager to talk to your tenants about strategies for preventing mould and dampness. These might include not using gas heaters, not drying clothes inside, wiping damp window sills and keeping the house well aired.

Where the problem is occurring from a leak, this is the landlord’s responsibility. Section 45 of the residential tenancies act states that landlords are responsible to provide the premises in a “reasonable state of cleanliness”.

However the property may be prone to mould because of where and how it is built by the home builder, but this is not the fault of either the landlord or the tenant. In this situation it’s important to keep communicating with one another to try to understand the cause of the problem and potential solutions.

If you are having an issue with mould in your Auckland rental property talk to us at Wendell Property Management. Our professional team can help you and your tenants take steps to reduce mould now – to grow your returns in the long term and help ensure the durability of your investment well into the future.