With many regions of the country experiencing higher than average rainfall, mould outbreaks are becoming more common in properties. For rental accommodation, the questions of “who is responsible for the mould – the landlord or tenant?” and “will the policy respond if I make a claim?” are common ones. This article addresses these in turn.
Who is responsible?
First and foremost, it is the landlord’s responsibility to maintain the property within a reasonable state. However, in most cases, under the terms and conditions of a tenancy agreement, the tenant must take reasonable care to avoid any damage/further damage to the property. This includes reporting the first signs of mould to the property manager. It is a joint responsibility between the Landlord and tenants to act quickly to ensure an outbreak does not turn into dangerous black mould.
When is the landlord responsible?
The responsibility depends on whether the mould was caused by a structural issue and/or an event that is deemed out of the tenant’s control.
For example, if a leaking pipe caused the mould to occur, it is the tenant’s responsibility in the first instance to notify the lot owner or property manager. Importantly, it is then the lot owners’ responsibility to fix the leak and have any mould removed from the property.
What is the tenant responsible for?
It is sensible for tenants to take out their own contents insurance policy because protecting these items is not the landlord’s responsibility. Whilst everyone’s situation is different, we encourage you to discuss this option with your broker or insurance company.
In moisture-prone areas such as bathrooms, it is beneficial to ensure there is adequate ventilation and tenants should be advised to open windows to circulate air where possible.
Will the policy respond if I make a claim?
The simple answer is…it depends. Recently, there was a decision made by The Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA) where a lot owner submitted a claim for mould damage allegedly caused by a storm. AFCA determined that the original storm could not have caused the mould growth within the property. Instead, based on building reports, AFCA determined that the mould was caused by moisture entering the property due to poor maintenance and ventilation.
At the first sign of any mould and or water ingress, a tenant should notify the property manager and or lot owner, so the problem can be addressed promptly.
Please note that every claim and insurance policy is treated on its own merit. As such, we encourage you speak to your insurer and or broker for further details on cover.
Team Leader Risksmart Property