#AskTDS: "Mould during a tenancy, who is responsible?"
In this #AskTDS blog, we answer a common tenant’s query: “who is responsible for mould during a tenancy?”
Mould is an unfortunate problem that many landlords and tenants will find themselves dealing with over the years. Here are some methods you can use to both remove and prevent mould.
Who is responsible for mould during a tenancy?
Tenants have a duty of care to promptly alert landlords to any areas of concern that may need repairing or replacing, such as when mould starts to appear, but who is responsible for the mould during the tenancy?
Typically, the response we usually see is that landlords are responsible when there is a fault with the building that has caused the mould, for example a leaky pipe. Tenants would have responsibility for housekeeping and if the mould develops during their tenancy i.e. was not present at the beginning of the tenancy and was not as the result of a fault with the property, it may be down to lifestyle.
However, this is not always the case, and every case should be considered based on the evidence provided. #AskTDS blogs are written as a guide, not as an absolute. You should seek legal advice if you wish to know the likelihood of result in your individual case.
What causes mould in a property?
Mould often occurs due to a lack of ventilation and/or circulation of air. The release of excess moisture, from drying clothes for example, and tightly sealed windows and doors can be an ideal environment for mould to develop. It can also occur due to a building defect, and it can be challenging for an adjudicator to decide if there is not enough evidence to support either party’s assertion.
Can I withhold rent because of mould?
For tenants experiencing a problem with mould in their home, unilaterally withholding rent is not recommended. TDS are unable to consider such situations which may involve counterclaims. If you feel that the landlord has breached their obligations under the tenancy agreement, you should seek some independent legal advice to help.
In adjudication TDS will not consider any ‘set-off’ issues such as a deduction of legally due rent. The adjudicator will look to see if the tenant has breached their obligations under the tenancy agreement, and if the landlord has suffered a loss due to that breach.
If you are still in the property, rather than withholding some or all the rent, you could liaise with the landlord to rectify any issue and failing that you could contact your local council and ask them to inspect the property.
If mould appears during a tenancy, without expert evidence, it may prove difficult to show that it was caused by a building defect or a lack of ventilation. Should the tenancy end while the mould remains, the tenants may find the landlord claiming money from their deposit to rectify the damage. In cases where tenants have withheld rent, they should be aware that this leaves them open to rent arrears claims as well.
For more helpful tips and guidance, visit our tenant FAQs page.
Tenancy Deposit Scheme (TDS) is a Government-approved scheme for the protection of tenancy deposits; TDS offers both Insured and Custodial protection and also provides fair adjudication for disputes that arise over the tenancy deposits that we protect.
We provide invaluable training in tenancy deposit protection and disputes for agents and landlords through the TDS Academy as well as joining with MOL to provide the Technical Award in Residential Tenancy Deposits.
TDS Insured Scheme: where a TDS member can hold the tenancy deposits as stakeholder during the term of the tenancy.
TDS Custodial Scheme: where TDS hold the deposit for the duration of the tenancy.
TDS Academy: TDS provides property professionals with invaluable training in tenancy deposit protection and tenancy deposit disputes.
TDS Northern Ireland: TDS is Northern Ireland's leading and only not for profit tenancy deposit protection scheme.
TDS can only comment on the process for our scheme, other deposit protection schemes may have a different process/require different steps. Content is correct at the time of writing.
These views are those of the author alone and do not necessarily reflect the view of TDS, its officers and employees.