Published: June 2022

Mould and damp

Properties for rent need to be free from mould and damp and meet minimum standards for ventilation. The rental provider (landlord) must tell you if a property you want to rent has a history of mould and damp.

Before you sign a lease

Before you sign a lease, legally called the rental agreement, the rental provider (landlord) must tell you certain information about the property to help you make an informed decision about renting it.

For mould and damp, this includes telling you if:

  • The rental provider has received a repair notice for mould or damp related to the building structure within the last 3 years
  • The property meets minimum ventilation standards (see the heading Minimum Standards on this page) [section 30D, regulation 16]

Note that on this page sections in brackets, such as [section 30D], refer to sections in Victoria’s Residential Tenancies Act 1997 or regulations in the Residential Tenancies Regulations 2021. There are links to these sections and regulations in the Resources section below.

Non-disclosure is an offence

It is an offence for a rental provider to not disclose such information before you sign a rental agreement [section 30D]. You can report offences to Consumer Affairs Victoria, which can issue an infringement notice on the rental provider or agent if they have failed to follow the law.

For more detail on what you need to be told before entering into a rental agreement, see our page Before you sign.

Minimum standards

Rental providers have a legal duty to make sure rental properties meet basic minimum standards [section 65A].

For mould and damp, this includes:

  • Making sure rooms are free from mould and damp caused by, or related to, the building structure
  • Making sure each habitable room, bathroom, shower room, toilet, and laundry has ventilation which meets the Building Code of Australia ventilation standards [regulation 29, schedule 4]

The minimum standards apply to rental agreements that started from 29 March 2021, either fixed term or periodic. A fixed term agreement is for a set amount of time – such as 12 months. Periodic agreements do not have an end date and are usually on a month-to-month basis.

Before you move in

If the property does not meet the minimum standards by the day you get the keys, you have a right to end the agreement if you have not yet moved in. That is, you have not stayed at the property, even if you have already moved your belongings in [section 65A].

Or you have the right to request urgent repairs [section 65A].

You have already moved in

If the property does not meet the minimum standards, or falls below the minimum standards during your agreement, the rental provider needs to arrange for urgent repairs to bring it up to standard.

For more information on the minimum standards, including a list of all the standards, see our page Minimum standards.

Urgent repairs

Rental providers need to make sure rental properties are kept in good repair [section 68].

Fixing mould or damp caused by, or related to, the building structure is an urgent repair under rental laws.

Fixing any failure to comply with the minimum standards under rental laws, such as the ventilation standard, is also an urgent repair.

Urgent repairs need to be fixed as soon as possible.

If they are not done urgently you can apply to VCAT, the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal. VCAT is required to hear your application within 2 business days. [Section 73]

Reporting urgent repairs

Call the rental provider or real estate agent to report the problem – then put it in writing.

The law requires this, and it will also give you proof of when you reported the problem in case you need to take further action later [section 72AA].

Photos and videos

Photos and videos can help show what the problem is and can also be useful later if the repairs are not done, or matters get worse, and you need to take further action.

Keep notes and copies

Keep notes and copies of any contact you have with the rental provider or agent about the repairs in case you need to take further action later.

For more information on reporting repairs and getting repairs done see our page Repairs and maintenance.

Applying to VCAT

If the repairs are not done, or not done properly, you can apply to VCAT for an order that the rental provider needs to do these urgently.

Make sure you include in the claim details of your application what needs to be fixed.

Also include what you want VCAT to do. For example, you want VCAT to make an order that the rental provider must arrange for the repairs to be done by a suitably qualified person and by a certain time.

Be sure to also include anything that supports your application, such as:

  • Photos or videos of the repairs needed
  • Copies of any contact you have had with the rental provider, or agent, about the repairs

For more information on making a VCAT application see our page Applying to VCAT.

Example

Below is a link to an example of what to include in the claim details of a VCAT application for urgent mould repairs. See page 6 of the document.

Example of claim details for VCAT application

If you are not sure if this example is right for your situation, for assistance contact our specialist Mould Clinic, the Tenancy Assistance and Advocacy Program for private renters or the Tenancy Plus program for people in public housing.

Mould Clinic

Operating in the winter months, Tenants Victoria’s Mould Clinic offers renters who meet eligibility criteria support for negotiating with rental providers (landlords) and real estate agents, and for taking mould issues to VCAT. The service is currently closed.

Your responsibilities

If there is mould or damp in your home caused by, or related to, the building structure, the rental provider is responsible for fixing it.

However, if you have caused, or contributed to, any mould or damp at the property the rental provider may ask you to fix this. For example, if mould has developed because you have not turned on an available exhaust fan when taking hot showers.

You should make sure you comply with your duties under the Residential Tenancies Act 1997 to avoid causing, or contributing to, any mould or damp issues in your home. These duties include:

  • Keeping the property reasonably clean [section 63]
  • Not intentionally or negligently causing damage to the property or common areas [section 61]

Resources

Related pages

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