A New South Wales landlord has been ordered to pay $14,766 in compensation to her tenants after her property suffered severe mould damage following heavy rain.
The decision came from the Civil and Administrative Tribunal, where tenants applied for compensation earlier this year.
The two-bedroom villa apartment was in the process of repairs for water damage and mould at the time, according to 7news.com.au.
The tenants argued that their rent was excessive considering the extensive damage and ongoing repairs.
They also sought compensation for the interruption to their quiet enjoyment of the property due to water damage and mould.
The tenants moved into the apartment in December 2019 with a 14-month contract at a rate of $960 per fortnight.
Water damage was first reported to the landlord’s agent in February 2020, with further reports filed up until October 2022.
The tribunal found that leaks were caused by failures in the roof and waterproofing in the common areas of the strata scheme.
“The water ingress caused water trickles down a wall, through a window, and minor flooding of floor surfaces particularly during heavy rain, which was frequent during this period,” the tribunal decision stated.
Significant mould growth caused respiratory distress and skin and eye irritation for the tenants.
The wooden floors and skirtings were also in very poor condition by October 2022.
The tenants claimed that the mould ruined clothing, possessions, and furniture.
Although the property manager reported the issues promptly, remedial works were only undertaken between December 2022 and February 2023, requiring the tenants to vacate temporarily without a rent reduction.
In defence, the landlord claimed that the roof and waterproofing were the responsibility of the owners’ corporation and that the rent had not increased since December 2019.
Senior tribunal member Philip French ruled that the tenants were paying excessive rent for an entire year and were entitled to compensation for damage and loss.
“Although the water ingress related to a state of disrepair in the common property of the Strata Scheme for which the Owners’ Corporation was responsible, on a contractual basis, it is the landlord who is responsible for that state of disrepair as between her and the tenants,” Mr French concluded.