NZ has strict laws around mould in rental properties. As a tenant, your health and wellbeing depends on your landlord following the legislation. Know your rights, and ensure your home is safe.
Mould is a common problem in New Zealand. Our housing is often constructed poorly, with minimal insulation, poor airflow, and in winter some houses barely see the sun. Mould in kitchens and bathrooms is really common due to the dampness. So, when is it an issue for you, and when should you get the landlord involved?
Why you need to get mould removed
Mould can be toxic. It grows in the walls, ceilings and floors of our homes, and thrives in damp environments. It can be difficult to clean and remove, as the roots of the plant are deep in the house and can be challenging to kill.
Children, babies and elderly people are more at risk than others, as their immune systems aren’t strong. People with allergies, skin issues, asthma or with compromised immune systems can also suffer more from the effects of mould and mildew.
Mould produces allergens that cause reactions such as sneezing, coughing, runny noses, red eyes, rashes, and even can trigger asthma attacks. Some moulds and mildews can cause fungal infections, or in rare cases, poisoning by mycotoxins.
Mould may also be toxic, although the scientific evidence around this is mixed and far from conclusive. Certainly, the presence of mould in your home can result in health problems, and it’s important to ensure it’s kept to a minimum.
Mould: A problem for landlord or tenant?
As a tenant, you can do a lot of things to help minimise or remove mould.
- Keep windows open/ airflow throughout the house
- Always use bathroom and kitchen extractor fans to direct wet, damp air outside
- Use a heatpump or dehumidifier
- Clean excess water as quickly as possible, including condensation from windows
- Don’t dry clothes inside
- Avoid using gas heating, as they release water
- Leave wardrobes open and pull beds away from walls to help with airflow
- Clean mould with white vinegar. It kills the roots of the plant too. Bleach is not effective.
However, if you do all these things and mould is still a big problem, you need to approach your landlord. NZ law states that rental homes need to be free from mould and dampness.
- Have ceiling and floor insulation
- Provide a source of heating that is capable of bringing the room to 18oC
- Windows must be able to be opened to allow airflow, good if these are secure with window stays too
- Kitchen and bathroom must have an extractor fan (Unless it’s not possible to install one)
- Water must be drained efficiently from guttering, downpipes and drains
- Underfloor ground moisture barrier when possible
- Draughts must be stopped, and unused fireplaces blocked off
If you have an ongoing mould problem and are following all the guidelines and doing everything right in an effort to avoid dampness, it’s time to approach your landlord. The standards mentioned above are in compliance with the Health Homes Standards, which all must be enacted by 1 July 2024, or for all new tenancies by July 2021.
Landlords and mouldy homes
If the landlord is not complying with the law, approach them and outline the problem.
If the landlord does not take action to rectify the problem, you can contact the Tenancy Tribunal, with evidence of the dampness, the steps you’ve taken to resolve it, and the contact you’ve had with the landlord about this issue.
If the landlord is upholding the terms of the rental agreement and the house is insulated, ventilated, and heated, then the problem could be something that needs investigation. Speak to your landlord and outline the problem. They may want to visit your home, so make a time that’s suitable to both of you. If there’s no obvious cause, it may need an independent builder or assessor to visit and find the cause of the problem.
This may be a symptom of a leaky home, a roof leak, or a structural issue the landlord doesn’t know about. If this is the case, it’s better to tell them sooner than later. Within reason, be polite and patient and give them time to address the issue. If this drags on with no resolution, approach the Tenancy Tribunal.
Contact TechClean in Nelson, Christchurch and Wellington
We offer mould decontamination services. With our experience in killing mould and restoring homes to clean and healthy, we can help you start again. In the past, mould may not have been removed correctly, and even if the house is dry and ventilated, mould can persist. Contact us for a quote for mould cleaning and decontamination, or refer us to your landlord.