Mouldy house

Katy asks:
(updated on Friday, May 03rd 2013)

I moved into our current property in summer, the house is a converted celler but it was warm and dry. In winter we have found the sun does not touch the house, we have experienced problems with widespread mould. I have had to replace the bedding, throw out heaps of clothing and our furniture is also getting mould on it despite having the one de-humidifier (which is not very effective in a house this size and it is expensive) and one radiator on. I have developed wheezing which I also had the last time I rented a damp house in the United Kingdom with black mould problems. I have tried to remove the mould but it won't come off some of walls. Is it the landloards responsibility to provide dehumidifiers? Can I end the tenency on health reasons?

Our Experts Answer:

It can be 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, for example, 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 dehumidifier will remedy the problem, who will be responsible for cleaning costs, or whether the tenancy will end (tenants may give a minimum of 21 days’ notice to terminate a periodic tenancy, however, fixed-term tenancies cannot be terminated with notice, but may be ended my mutual consent, or the Tenancy Tribunal in certain circumstances)). 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 service times that must be allowed for where notice is given to end a periodic tenancy, you can visit the Ministry of Business, Innovation, and Employment, Building and Housing Group’s website (www.dbh.govt.nz), or call 0800 TENANCY (0800 836 262).

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