Whose problem is mould?

Question from Michelle updated on 8th January 2013:

We have been living in a rented home for over a year and a half. The tenant prior to us never really cleaned the mould off the roof (just wiped with a mop). I have cleaned it multiple times. Recently I had an inspection and was advised the mould on the roof and curtains needs to be cleaned. I am spending a lot on cleaning products and feel this is unfair. We are told to keep the place well ventilated but we are not home all day (cannot and will not leave windows open if not home) but we open them in the weekend and at night. Is there an obligation to the landlord to also supply a HRV system or at least costs towards the cleaning?

Our expert Alan Bruce responded:

It is difficult to determine who is at fault when mould appears in a property. This is largely due to the fact that there are many reasons why mould and dampness may be present in a property. For example, tenants may cause excess moisture in the property by using un-flued gas heaters, drying clothes inside and not ventilating the property. Landlords may be responsible where the problem has arisen due to a maintenance issue which could include leaking pipes or blocked guttering etc. Where it is unclear what is causing the dampness or where it is not through any fault of either the landlord or tenant (e.g. due to the location of the property or if the property does not get much sunlight) then the responsibility becomes a lot less certain. In these situations, landlords and tenants should try and negotiate an outcome they are both happy with (e.g. whether a home ventilation system will remedy the problem or who will be responsible for cleaning costs). I suggest you discuss the issue with your landlord in the first instance and attempt to reach an agreement as to how the problem may be remedied. If an agreement cannot be reached, then either party may apply to the Tenancy Tribunal to have the matter resolved. To discuss your situation further, or for information about applying to the Tenancy Tribunal, you can visit the Department’s website (as noted above) or call 0800 TENANCY (0800 836 262).

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment provides information and guidance on building law and compliance, services including weathertight homes, and advice for tenants and landlords.

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