Factsheet 24: Mould
As a tenant you have rights under the Residential Tenancies Act 2010 and Regulation. This factsheet discusses mould in rented premises.
Moulds are fungi that need moisture and organic material to grow. When disturbed or dried out, they release spores that can cause illness in some people. They may also cause structural damage if left untreated.
Mould can cause a state of disrepair at rented premises. This can be the result of a breach of the residential tenancy agreement by the landlord or the tenant (e.g. the landlord fails to attend to dampness or the tenant fails to ventilate the premises).
The landlord must:
At the start of the tenancy, the landlord/agent must note on the condition report if there are any signs of mould and dampness. (Whether or not they note the presence of mould/dampness, they cannot avoid the obligation to keep the premises in reasonable repair during the tenancy.)
You can add your own comments under ‘Additional comments on health issues’.
You may want:
Tell the landlord/agent that they need to arrange for repairs. Write them a letter telling them what needs fixing and by when. Give a clear deadline. Keep a copy of the letter and a record of any conversations as evidence that you have notified them. Also see Factsheet 06: Repairs and maintenance.
If the landlord does not promptly arrange for repairs, you can apply to the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal for orders (see below).
If you are going to move out temporarily while repairs are done, make a clear agreement in writing about:
You can apply for one or more of the following orders:
People who are not named on the tenancy agreement as tenants (e.g. children) cannot apply to the tribunal.
See Factsheet 11: NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal and contact your local Tenants Advice and Advocacy Service for advice about applying.
You must be able to show that:
The tribunal may make an order that the rent is or was excessive due to a reduction or withdrawal by the landlord of any goods, services or facilities provided with the premises (e.g. a room becomes unusable due to mould growth).
If the tribunal finds that the rent is excessive, it will make an excessive rent order. It will specify:
See Factsheet 04: Rent increases for how to prepare an excessive rent case.
Applying for compensation You can apply for order/s that the landlord compensate you for economic loss such as the destruction of or damage to your belongings.
You may also apply for an order that the landlord compensate you for physical inconvenience you have suffered. Discuss your case with your local Tenants Advice and Advocacy Service first.
You must be able to show that your loss was caused by the landlord’s failure to do repairs. The tribunal may not order compensation if you have not mitigated your losses.
You must back up your claims with evidence. This may include expert reports on the presence of mould in the premises (e.g. from a scientist, council building/health inspector, builder). Such reports can be costly so you may need to rely on other evidence.
The condition report is important evidence of the state of the premises at the start of the tenancy. Other evidence may include:
In Gannon v Department of Transport & Regional Services (Tenancy)  NSWCTTT 793, the tribunal found that the landlord breached the tenancy agreement but did not order compensation due to lack of independent evidence and a delayed application.
In Charles v Yannakolu (Tenancy)  NSWCTTT 796, the tribunal found that the landlord knew of the damp and mould problem before the tenancy started and ordered $10,000 compensation be paid to the tenants for their losses.
See Factsheet 09: You want to leave for how to end your tenancy agreement.
If someone in your household has been made ill by mould, seek medical advice. Consult a solicitor or your local Community Legal Centre (02 9212 7333, www.nswclc.org.au) about whether to take legal action.
The NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal is not the best place to take a personal injury claim – the maximum compensation it can order is $15,000.
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The information in this factsheet:
• is intended as guide to the law and should not be used as a substitute for legal advice
• applies to people who live in, or are affected by, the law as it applies in New South Wales, Australia.
© Tenants' Union of NSW