Mould outbreaks are ravaging Australian homes and damaging contents. But if you’re renting, who is responsible for cleaning it up?

What are your rights when health-threatening mould takes over your property? The landlord, right? Well, it depends.

In Australia, constant rain and high humidity provide the ideal environment for mould to spread rapidly, especially in damp homes. 

However, mould exposure can pose serious health risks, requiring careful removal by experts wearing protective gear.

When mould appears in your rental property, it’s natural to wonder who is responsible for addressing it. The answer to this question depends on several factors.

Why is mould considered a health issue?

Did you know that mould can be a serious health concern? It’s a fungus that thrives in moist environments and can quickly grow in your home during the wetter months.

You might find mould in your bathroom, kitchen, cluttered storage spaces, and even behind furniture.

Unfortunately, when mould dries out or is disturbed, it can release spores that can make some people sick. It can even worsen existing health issues, causing problems like asthma, respiratory infections, sinus issues, rashes, and itchy red eyes. It’s not something you want to ignore!

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Where is it coming from?

Mould grows in damp areas with poor ventilation, such as walls, ceilings, insulation, mattresses, carpets, tiles, and wood.

A few common culprits of mould include:

  • Surface water leaking into your property
  • Rising damp
  • Rain leaking into your house through the roof or walls
  • Poor ventilation
  • Showering, cooking and boiling without proper ventilation
  • Using clothes dryers without adequate ventilation
  • Indoor plumbing leaks
  • Indoor liquid spills

Thankfully, there are a few simple ways to prevent mould from growing in your home. Use these handy tips to keep mould at bay – especially during the cooler months!

So who is responsible for mould?

Determining who is responsible for mould growth depends on what caused it in the first place. If a structural issue is to blame, it becomes the landlord’s responsibility to fix it.

Your landlord is responsible for maintaining the property in a habitable and reasonable state of repair. For instance, if mould growth occurs due to a leak in the ceiling, which accumulates water in the walls, ceiling cavity, or under the house, the landlord should take care of it.

However, it’s also the tenant’s responsibility to ensure proper ventilation in moisture-prone areas such as bathrooms, kitchens, laundry areas, and other wet spots in the house. It’s a shared responsibility to prevent mould growth.


Your key responsibilities as a renter:

  • Keep your rental reasonably clean;
  • Not intentionally cause damage; and
  • Let your landlord know about any damage ASAP

If you notice mould developing in your rental property, you may be violating your rental agreement.

This could be due to several reasons, such as

  • inadequate bathroom ventilation caused by not using exhaust fans or opening windows
  • failure to treat or dry out wet carpets
  • allowing pools of water to accumulate on tiles outside the shower; or
  • not airing out a room after drying clothes indoors.

So what should you do?

If you find mould caused by an issue the owner is responsible for, report it promptly so the owner can address it.

This is similar to any other repair issue, where you inform your landlord or property manager and ask for a solution. If they don’t provide a solution, you can issue a notice to remedy the breach or take legal action.

Regardless of the cause, if you’re a renter, it’s best to notify the other party in writing as soon as possible. If you’re unsure how to fix the problem, ask them to come and assess it.

How do I raise the issue with my landlord?

If you notice mould in your rented property, acting quickly is important. Contact your landlord or rental agency and report the issue immediately. Mould can spread rapidly and cause both damage to the building and health problems for those living in it.

Most landlords will be willing to work with you to resolve the issue. However, if your landlord fails to take action or denies that there is a problem, you can escalate the matter to your state’s fair trading or consumer affairs body.

To do this, document the mould growth by taking pictures as soon as you notice it. Keep a record of any reports you make to your landlord or rental agency and any actions you take within your home to address the issue, such as cleaning or moving your personal belongings away from the affected area.

Document your efforts to minimise any potential damage to your belongings. This can be an important part of seeking compensation for any losses. Once you have gathered all the necessary evidence, decide on the best way to push the issue with your rental agency or landlord.

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Your key responsibilities as a landlord/property owner

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

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 problems
  • A malfunctioning exhaust fan or wall-mounted heater; or
  • Damage from a leaky roof, broken pipe, or flood

What should you do?

If your property has a problem with its structural integrity, it is important to take action quickly. As the owner, you are responsible for ensuring that the property is maintained in a reasonable state of habitability and repair.

In the event of mould caused by a leak in the ceiling that accumulates in the ceiling cavity, walls, or beneath the house, it is your responsibility to fix the issue. Failure to take reasonable steps to address the problem may result in a tenant seeking compensation for damages to their personal property.

It is advisable to take this opportunity to inspect your rental properties, particularly with the current wet weather and humidity leading to mould outbreaks in many homes.

Here’s a helpful tip on how to remove mould from your home

One practical and safe method is by using white distilled vinegar. Simply pour it into a spray bottle without diluting it, then spray it onto the mouldy surface. Leave it for an hour before wiping it clean with water.

Alternatively, you can use bleach to kill mould spores on the surface, but vinegar is powerful enough to kill the mould at its roots. is Australia's largest company dedicated to renters and is owned and operated by ASX-listed Limited (RNT:ASX). For over 15 years, has exclusively focused on making renters' lives easier by making it easier to find a property, secure it, move in and pay rent.


  1. Thank you for the information. I have lived in this home for 10 years. The new owner for the last 3 years still needs to fix the plumbing problem in the house. I have been sick with a nasty infection and have been in the hospital. I have a breathing problem now as the hospital doesn’t know what is wrong with me.

    It’s a concern for me now because he never fixed the problem, which has become a health issue for me. Mushrooms are growing inside, there’s a foul odour, and I have to be outside to always breathe fresh air. I’m asking to vacate the property and want to know what I do. I have always maintained the property well, but 3 years is too long for this. I have rights, too, as a tenant.

  2. I have had a mould problem due to broken roof tiles, and it has been that way since moving into this property. After sending numerous emails and photos to the real estate agent, still no effort to treat the mould that was getting worse. As a result, I now suffer from asthma and a deep bark-like cough. My daughter cannot stay due to her cough being really bad.

    Finally, the tribunal sent me a template for a Letter of Notice to have this mould treated, which has now been done. The mould is still here, and I still send photos and report this. Because of this, the real estate agent has treated me poorly, and the tribunal refuses to help either. Now I have to vacate the property because the owner wants to sell.

  3. We moved into our rental in June 2021 – carpeted dining area. Yesterday, when we moved our dining table and the rug it was on, we discovered that the area of carpet directly below our table base was mouldy. We have never spilled anything, and I strongly suspect that the carpet backing was damp when we moved in. Agent says it’s our responsibility. Has anyone had a similar issue?

  4. I’ve had this dry cough for 7 months now and only realised it was from mould. The mould was here when I got here. It’s in the condition report. The agent refused to acknowledge it, but I have photos. Apparently, it’s my job to stop mould and dampness from building up. Still, it’s everywhere, and there are no fans in either bathroom.

    It is impossible to prevent this mould. Why should I have to pay for a professional to inspect it? The system is very flawed, and I’m tired of the coldness of the real estate agents. Are they happy for single mums with babies to be in a mould-ridden place and not do anything about it? Not even assess why it is happening, like a leak or something? Since the mould was in the condition report, won’t that prove it was here before I came, and they ought to compensate me for health damages? It’s too much of a fight to prove.

  5. I have rented this current house for just over 2 years. The owner put insulation in the roof sometime in 2020/21. Since we have been here, the stumps have started sinking, and we have numerous cracks in the walls throughout the house.

    Within the last month, mould has developed in just about every room, including a wok I had in the kitchen cupboard. My husband has developed a rash from head to toe and scratches every night when in bed. We removed mattresses from two rooms and replaced them with airbeds until we can find another rental which is so difficult. I am developing a skin issue and just had a mould mix blood test.

    I have been talking to Consumer Affairs and VCAT to find out information on my rights and compensation. I’m at my wit’s end and becoming depressed about the issue. I have a large, carved trunk that’s been in the family for around 40 years, and I found mould on it yesterday. I just broke down. It was the storage for all my children’s memories and photo albums, so luckily, there was no mould inside.

    It’s been two weeks since I reported it to the property manager. We must wait another week until the mould management company can reach us. We have had to remove furniture out to the carport, but I get the impression that they are trying to blame me. I have rented for 10 to 20 years and never had an issue.

  6. My father and I moved into a rental property in early July 2021. We were told by the handyman that there were a substantial amount of holes in the roof, which were never repaired. He even told the real estate agent about it on multiple occasions. Since then, during the long rainy season, mould began to grow throughout my bedroom.

    I always keep the room well-ventilated. All windows throughout the house had to be FIXED after being painted over when we moved in. I have two windows in my room and access to the front door within a few feet. Despite the number of inspections we have had and explaining the faults in the property, nothing has been done. Everything in my room has been destroyed by mould, from my bed to my clothes, everything.

    I have been sleeping on a couch for the last 4 months mainly because the house is completely tiled. We had an inspection 2 months ago. I showed her the mould. The lady was in shock and asked if I stay in the room. I said yes. She said this was not my responsibility and she would forward it to a mould-cleaning specialist. Nothing has been made of the claims and evidence. I’m at the last straw; I really don’t want to move.

  7. My landlord refuses to fix the leaking pipes under both the kitchen & bathroom sinks. I have reported the issue to the landlord directly in passing conversation (she lives in the adjoining duplex) & also to the agency, who also let the landlord know, with no response. The mould growing under both sinks has now made the cupboards unusable (already not enough storage in the unit) & at the last inspection, this mould was noted by the junior property manager & I was given seven days to clean it. I cleaned it AGAIN (it is a weekly chore) and then escalated to the senior property manager with the email trail, where I repeatedly told them about the issue. Lo & behold, I have now received a notice to terminate the agreement at the end of the fixed term next March & a smart arse comment from the landlord about the lack of affordable rentals in our area (the cheapest weekly rent I can find is $580 & I currently pay $450).

    I know there is nothing I can do as landlords currently hold all the cards, but I do hope the next tenants destroy the property & fail to pay rent, so she realises how good it was to have a tenant who was always a month in advance, had the carpets steam cleaned & the home flea treated annually (not part of the lease, I like to live in a clean home) & who maintained not just my gardens but also her front rose garden because I love gardening & she hates it. I know this makes me seem awful, but she has put me in a terrible position as I cannot leave the area (kids enrolled in the school & ex will not allow me to change their school), but I also cannot afford anything in the area. I may have to send the kiddos back to live with their Dad & move in with a friend or relative for a while until the market calms down because of her vindictiveness, so yeah, I hope karma gets her good.

  8. You do have avenues to utilise people. For starters, get it on record with Consumer Affairs. Contact your Tenants Union or Tenants’ organisation and get it on record. Take recorded photos and documentation for your claim if it has to go to VCAT. If a landlord or “rental agent” takes rent, there is a duty of care under the rights and responsibilities of the Landlord/rental agent. You can seek up to $40,000 compensation at VCAT IF you have clear, concise evidence of damages. DOCUMENT EVERYTHING. If your health is impacted by, let’s say, mould, get a doctor to certify that before proceeding to any tribunals.

  9. You are saying that if the mould dries out, it will go into the air. But I believe that when it dries, it stops spreading, and humidity is what can make it spread because the particles can travel on the water particles in the air. You are right, though, if you disturb it, whether it’s dry or wet, you should wear gloves and a mask. I have a severe allergy to mold of any kind from living in a water-damaged house for 11 years. If I knew what it would do to the rest of my life, I would not have stayed there. Anyway, dehumidifiers do dry out the air and stop it from spreading, so my common sense tells me that drying it out is actually what you need to do to stop the spread.

    Also, the idea that black mould is a dangerous mould is a myth. It’s a toxin called mycotoxin that is dangerous to humans, and it is in a wide variety of different moulds of all colours. Black mould can have it or not. Black mould also comes in thousands of different strains.

    So, yeah, I wanted to let you know that the information is not correct and that drying it out makes it spread through the air. Dry air stops mould in its tracks, but it still needs to be removed because as soon as humidity comes back, it continues

  10. I also have an awful landlord. They’ve left mould for 18 months and won’t fix anything straight away. They even refuse to fix the solar panels to help save on our electricity. The list goes on – they’ve just put the rent up by $140 per week. I wish I could win the lottery and get away from these bad owners.