What’s the true cost of mould in your rental property? 

Mould can be a serious threat to human health and the integrity of a building. It’s actually one of the most common health hazards that’s increasingly linked to a wide range of mental and physical ailments. And if your rental property is tenanted, you as the landlord or property manager are responsible for making sure a property is free of mould.

In case you need any further motivation to take this subject seriously, mould is also responsible for causing untold damage to the actual property too which can be costly to eradicate and/or can devalue a property significantly. 

Who is at greatest risk of health issues from contact with mould?

A NSW Health report states that people with the following may be more sensitive to mould:

  • Asthma
  • Allergies
  • Other breathing conditions 

But people with weakened immune systems and those with chronic lung diseases are also more at risk of mould infection, particularly in their lungs.

It should be noted that it’s impractical to assume you can eliminate ALL mould from inside a home but there are a number of key steps you can take to remove mould and control its source … moisture.

But let’s first understand ‘what’ mould is.

What is mould?

In simple terms, mould is a type of fungi that lives on plant or animal matter. This can include a range of building materials that you could reasonably expect to find in the majority, if not all, Australian homes. These products include plasterboard, wood, curtains and carpets.

As we’ve said, mould loves moisture! That’s why it grows most efficiently in poorly ventilated, damp areas. In this environment, it happily reproduces by making spores that can be airborne and therefore land on damp spots indoors. This is where they set up their new home; they grow and spread. 

You’ve probably seen evidence of mould in your rental property, or maybe in your own home. Given its preference for poorly ventilated areas, bathrooms and laundries are two very common areas to find mould. Around plug holes, along the edges in a bath or shower – it looks innocuous but it can be deadly.

That’s why looking for it and dealing with it should be very much a priority for any landlord or tenant. Or even better, preventing it in the first place is the best option!

How can I prevent ​mould growth in my rental property?

Reducing excessive moisture or dampness in a property is key in the prevention approach. Examples of this include:

Maintain great v​entilation:

  • In your bathroom(s) – be sure to turn on exhaust fans if you’re showering or taking a bath. The same is true in the kitchen when you’re cooking or in the laundry if you’re washing/drying clothes.
  • Get into the habit of opening windows (when the weather plays nicely) so as to improve cross ventilation opportunities.

Minimise hu​midity:

  • Be aware that items such as fish tanks can increase the humidity levels in your home
  • Try not to use unflued gas heaters that have a tendency to increase the humidity levels within a home
  • Run dehumidifiers in damp-prone areas of the home and where there is less air circulation

Tackle m​oisture and dampness head-on:

  • Anything that can lead to increased moisture should be well maintained. For example, make sure any leaking taps or water pipes are fixed, make sure the gutters are cleaned out and free of debris

What should I do​ if I have mould in my home?

There are two things to consider in answering that question.

Firstly, the basic rule of thumb is to remove it as soon as you notice it. If it’s just started to appear it could be quite straightforward. Mould that has been allowed to grow for some time (for example, in a cavity) may be more problematic to remove fully. 

Secondly, treat the cause otherwise it will likely just reappear. This may be something you can handle yourself but, it is always a great idea to get an inspection carried out by a professional plumber. As well as mould problems, unseen water damage can cause structural damage to a property making it doubly important to get to the source of the mould issue.

Importantly, if mould is present a plumber is best placed to suggest what the source is and what steps could be taken to fix the cause once and for all. As a landlord, having an independent inspection by a professional shows that you are taking the matter seriously.

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