How to protect your properties from toxic mould

If your property has ever suffered from a mould problem, you’ll understand how frustrating removing it can be. There are many different types of mould. Indoor mould can be a health risk and can irritate some people, causing them breathing issues, asthma attacks or full-blown allergic reactions.

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Mould produces spores that are invisible to the human eye. They can be found almost everywhere when you have a mould problem. That makes it impossible to get rid of all mould in your home. But spores don’t grow without moisture, so that’s one way to combat them. Therefore, the root of your mould problem probably stems from a moisture issue in your home.

Preventing mould in your rental property requires a joint effort by you and your tenants. It’s important to restrict moisture from entering your home and worsening once it’s inside.


Mould can set in and spread quickly, damaging surfaces and, in some cases, rendering them unusable or unable to be saved.

But it’s not just surfaces that need to be protected, as mould also poses significant health risks.


Inhaling mould fragments or spores can inflame the airways, causing nasal congestion, wheezing, chest tightness, coughing and throat irritation. Mould exposure can also affect the immune system.

Prolonged exposure to high levels of indoor dampness can reduce lung function and cause chronic health problems such as asthma. Those who already suffer from asthma and allergies are more likely to have more severe symptoms when exposed.

In some cases, prolonged mould exposure can cause serious illness and potentially fatalities.

So, let’s look at what causes mould, what you can do about it and who’s responsible for treating it.

Where does mould come from?

  • Dampness, including condensation and rain leaking through windowsills, doors and roof
  • Bathrooms, laundries and kitchens lacking proper ventilation, extractor fans, windows that open, etc
  • Surface water leaks; these can often spring up from underground and by the time surface mould appears, it’s spread like wildfire under floors and carpets
  • Rising damp and indoor plumbing leaks
  • Indoor liquid spills which aren’t cleaned up properly; overflowing dishwashers and washing machines are a common culprit
  • Storing large amounts of water-absorbent materials such as books or cardboard boxes in a damp space

Unfortunately, the Australian climate provides the ideal breeding ground for mould, which is why the correct process and products for removal are so essential to prevent regrowth and ongoing health issues as a result.

According to a report released by Consumer Protection WA, both the tenant and the landlord can be held responsible for damage caused by mould, depending on the circumstances.

What is the landlord’s responsibility?

Under tenancy law, property owners acting as the landlord must:

  • Keep the rental premises in a reasonable state of repair
  • Meet building, health and safety requirements
  • Ensure repairs are undertaken in a reasonable period of time

As a landlord, you could be facing a breach of the rental agreement if mould develops as a result of not attending to maintenance matters reported by the tenant, such as:

  • Damp walls caused by plumbing issues
  • A broken exhaust fan or wall-mounted heating unit
  • A leaky roof, broken pipe or flood damage

What is the tenant’s responsibility?

If you’re renting property, you must:

  • Keep your rental property in a reasonable state of cleanliness
  • Not intentionally or negligently cause or permit damage
  • Let your landlord or real estate agent know about any damage, as soon as possible

As a tenant, you may be in breach of your rental agreement if mould develops because:

  • You got the carpet wet and failed to treat it or let it dry out properly
  • You didn’t aerate the bathroom by using exhaust fans or opening windows
  • You left pools of water on the tiles outside the shower and let scum build up
  • You dried clothes indoors and didn’t air the room afterwards

What should tenants do?

1. Improve airflow

Areas with excess humidity should be well ventilated to prevent mould growth. That might include around baths or showers, as well as laundry rooms, dishwashers and the kitchen sink.

Improving the airflow in your house can stop mould from growing, with the added benefit of reducing heating or air conditioning costs because air can flow more effectively around. You can achieve this through wall vents, and also by keeping any furniture away from the walls.

Also, keep doors and windows open where appropriate.

2. Use moisture absorbers

There are lots of products on the market that can absorb moisture from the air and prevent mould from forming. Moisture absorbers will naturally absorb excess moisture from the air and keep a good humidity level in your home.

3. Continual cleaning

Mould can build up in wet areas like your bathroom quickly. There are a range of mould cleaning sprays that can be used on various tiles, grouting, ceramics and plaster. These kill mould and mould spores, stopping it in its tracks.

4. Use protection

Because mould is often so widespread, you’ll need a few different methods to keep it at bay. Making sure you have a well-ventilated house and using a mould spray is likely the most effective option for most households.

When you clean mould, remember to wear gloves, goggles or a mask to protect yourself. That’s especially if you’re using off-the-shelf mould sprays containing harsh chemicals, or opt for non-toxic sprays.

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