Landlords' obligations for removing mould

Shirley asks:
(updated on Monday, September 10th 2007)

We have recently acquired a IP that is already tenanted, the tenants have got a mould problem in the ensuite bathroom (going on for +/- 6mnths), the previous property manager had instructed them to rectify this, but to date nothing has been done. How soon after settlement date can I being the new landlord request a property inspection, and can I instruct them a time frame to have this problem sorted out, and what rights do I have to insist that if this is not sorted out, we will get certified cleaners to fix this mould problem and it will be at the tenants cost.

Our Experts Answer:

Section 48 of the Residential Tenancies Act 1986 (the Act), details a landlord’s right of entry. The Act says you have the right to inspect the premises between 8 am and 7 pm, provided you give the tenants notice of your visit at least 48 hours in advance, and not more than 14 days in advance. You may visit once in a 4 week period. It is a good idea to meet with the tenants when you inspect the property. If you have not yet assumed landlord duties, you could ask to attend the final inspection with the outgoing landlord and meet with the tenants at that time. Be mindful that the outgoing landlord may not be able to arrange this if he has already inspected the property in the last 4 weeks.

Past Tenancy Tribunal decisions have found that minimising mould is a joint tenant/landlord responsibility. Mould grows in places of high humidity, and you can decrease humidity by ensuring the property has adequate ventilation and heating. The tenants can ventilate and heat the property to reduce the likelihood of mould developing. However, the property may be prone to mould because of where and how it is built, which is the landlord’s responsibility. When you meet the tenants, ask them for more details about the mould problem and how they have addressed it. See if the ensuite bathroom has an adequate ventilation system. If the tenants do not have a dehumidifier, you may want to provide one. You could also paint the bathroom with a mould-resistant paint to try to stop the mould from developing further.

The Consumer Build website provides useful information and tips, including how to deal with mould. Check out the home maintenance section at www.consumerbuild.org.nz. If you find that you and your tenants cannot agree about who is responsible for the mould problem, either party can take the dispute to the Tenancy Tribunal. For more information on the rights and obligations of landlords and tenants, contact the Department of Building and Housing at 0800 TENANCY (0800 83 62 62) or visit our website: www.dbh.govt.nz.


The Department of Building and Housing provides information and guidance on building law and compliance, services including weathertight homes, and advice for tenants and landlords.



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