As Australia gears up for another wet summer, with a third consecutive La Niña weather event on the way, this spring is a time to look at the damage water can cause as well as what tenants can do to prevent it.
The flooding we have seen in some areas has been extreme, but even in less extreme circumstances, the wet weather has caused extensive damage. Heavy rainfall and humidity introduce issues for properties that are expensive to fix and unsafe for residents. With a little proactive effort and advice on what to look out for, property managers and tenants can get ahead of La Niña and ensure homes stay safe and sanitary this summer.
The number one concern for residents of a property is mould. A mouldy home is unsanitary and can lead to respiratory problems for anyone living there. Mould is also difficult to counteract, often recurring in parts of the home and requiring ongoing monitoring and removal during periods of humidity and damp. The recurring nature of the problem, especially across multiple seasons of wet weather, makes it a difficult one for property managers to advise on, as there isn’t necessarily a quick and permanent fix that can be provided.
Some other issues might include door frames sticking as the timber expands in the hot weather, leaks occurring during periods of rainfall and pest infestation as insects thrive in the warmer, damper climate.
In many cases, early intervention can prevent a larger problem. Property managers should consider communicating with their tenants on some basic maintenance points, as well as encouraging them to report issues sooner rather than later so they can be addressed before further damage is done and the property can be returned to a safe and habitable state.
A checklist for tenants might cover:
- As much as possible, allow ventilation and sunlight, which kills mould, into the property. Clear out any blocked vents, open windows and keep window tracks and weep holes clear for airflow. Weep holes are the gaps left between some bricks in external walls. They serve two purposes, both with a focus on mould prevention: ventilation of the internal wall cavity and drainage.
- Wipe affected areas with an appropriate cleaning solution (spot testing before using chemicals on surfaces that may be discoloured).
- Regularly check any areas where mould has appeared before for regrowth.
- Check for any leaking that may be causing the mould.
- Advise your property manager of any excessive, recurring or dangerous mould, particularly black mould, or mould/damp patches affecting ceilings in the property.
Last year, we shared an article focused on mould in rentals and how harmful it can be for our health. In the article, we also pondered the question: who’s responsible? Here is an excerpt from that article.
In a nutshell, mould caused by structural issues, such as a leak in the roof, malfunctioning gutters and inadequate ventilation will typically be the responsibility of the landlord to address. The tenant is responsible if their actions and activities create the perfect environment for mould to grow. This includes things like tumble dryer use, hot showers and cooking without opening a window or switching on the exhaust fan if there is one as well as failing to mop or wipe up condensation on surfaces and storing water-soluble materials such as books, soft furnishings and boxes in a dark, damp space.
- Advise of any damaged flyscreens in need of repair.
- Consider repellents such as citronella candles and sprays.
- Ensure food is put away or thrown out, and any dead plant matter is disposed of.
- Urgently advise your property manager of any water damage to the ceiling or walls that could compromise the structural safety of a property.
- Advise of any leaks, particularly where the water is causing damage to the property.
- Advise of any rot occurring to wooden materials.
- Check for any cracked and peeling paint in need of refreshing before summer rain can cause further damage.
We can’t make the sun shine, but we can be prepared for the rain and work to fix issues as they arise. As Australia’s leading property safety inspection service, we can also support property managers, landlords and tenants with an Investor Safety Inspection conducted by an experienced safety inspector. The report produced by the inspector alerts the landlord to all relevant safety risks, including mould and damp issues caused by structural defects, and provides practical options to mitigate those risks, protecting all parties. To learn more, call PropertySafe on 1300 350 000.