Mould liability

Question from Karyn updated on 6th December 2019:

The tenants in my property have used a drier in the laundry, un-ventilated for three months. This has led to a great deal of mould and peeling paint. Prior to this, the three-monthly inspection reports for this tenant were clear that there was no damage/mould anywhere in the house. The reports covering the six years before (for the previous tenants) also confirm this.

But, unknown to me, the EQC painting in this area seven years ago was substandard - so when there was excess unventilated moisture, mould grew and paint peeled. There is a strong communication trail from the property manager showing requests that the property be ventilated. There are also neighbour reports that the curtains and windows were never opened. And mould has also appeared in other very sunny rooms.

I accept the painting of the laundry is a contributing factor and my responsibility. But my property manager tells me that the tenants are not liable for anything at all. That’s because they “didn't understand” what they were doing and the initial paint job negates them fully. Yet they initially admitted liability. I’m very confused.




Our expert Bernard Parker responded:

It is curious that for six years there were no mould issues and then in the last three months there has been a mould problem. I am surprised too that a paint job seven years ago can last six years and then fail in three months.

The common denominator seems to be the current tenants using a drier in an unventilated room. The suggestion that the tenants are not liable for their actions because “they didn’t understand what they were doing” is rather facile and sounds like a fob-off.

The correspondence trail from the property manager and the evidence of neighbours should help to establish the cause of the mould. I don’t think the initial paint job can absolve the tenants from the responsibility of acting with due care and attention to prevent mould.



Bernard is principal of Quinovic – Kapiti-Mana. Quinovic's outstanding people and systems provide the most professional, effective and reliable residential property management service in the NZ market for over 30 years.

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