"Dank and damp" smell

Pollie asks:
(updated on Tuesday, September 30th 2014)

We recently moved in to a rental property on a fixed term for five months while we house hunt. We noticed a very strong mould smell in one area of the house. It is very dank and damp. It is a one-bedroom, one-lounge studio room which is part of a three-bedroom home. The landlord said the studio had been empty and closed up for some time and he didn't think it was an issue and he'd never noticed an issue before. We happily moved in and began to "air out and ventilate" daily even though it is the middle of winter and there were some very cold some days. We have only been here three weeks and the smell and strength of the mould odour is very strong and the landlord's furniture is covered in mould. He doesn't seem to care. What can we do? We are suffering health wise with headaches and breathing. The air is so bad. We can't sleep in that room.

Our Experts Answer:

You should bring to your landlord’s attention that the problem is serious, the smell has not gone away, and you are suffering health issues as a result. It sounds like a typical dampness problem. Your landlord may be prepared to dry the flat out with a dehumidifier. If you don’t receive a satisfactory response, issue the landlord with a 14 Day Notice to Remedy (a form can be downloaded from www.tenancy.govt.nz.) Then, if the landlord does not remedy the problem, you can apply to the Tenancy Tribunal for a range of orders including termination of the tenancy, orders to carry out remedial work and compensation.

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