Homeowners and tenants both have a responsibility to keep mould at bay during Invercargill’s cold winters because “it’s a health issue,” a real estate boss says.
Mould has been in the spotlight this week with revelations tenants of a Dunedin student flat won a confidential payout after an inspection report found toxic black mould posed a serious risk to their health, while an Invercargill mother moved her family out of her flat and the Invercargill City Council launched an investigation after black mould was found in her draughty home.
She blamed their living conditions on her son’s repeated sickness.
Last month, the prime minister’s chief science adviser Peter Gluckman said mould was a much larger health risk to tenants than meth residue.
Harcourts Invercargill manager Wayne Ellis said insulation and ventilation were two of the important factors in preventing dampness and mould in houses.
Given this, it was the homeowner’s responsibility to ensure the homes were well insulated and maintained and it was the tenant’s responsibility to ensure they were well ventilated and looked after.
It could be a challenge to encourage both parties to meet their obligations.
“Mould is certainly a concern given our climate in the winter,” Ellis said.
“We don’t want anyone living in an unsafe environment, because it’s a health issue.”
Mould is a type of fungus that grows in damp areas, including walls and ceilings.
It usually appears as green, grey, brown, black, white or red growth.
When left to grow in large quantities, it releases thousands of invisible spores into the air, which can cause serious health issues when breathed in.
A Tenancy Services document outlines the need to keep houses well aired to avoid mould and damp.
Mould should be removed as soon as it is found, with white vinegar a cheap option to clean it off surfaces and kill it.
People were encouraged to make the most of the sun’s warmth in autumn and winter, when mould hits hardest, by opening the curtains during the day.
Extractor fans should be used and windows opened when steam or moisture was created by cooking, bathing or using a clothes dryer, the document says.
Home dwellers could also help to keep mould and damp at bay by keeping lids on pots when cooking, wiping condensation off walls and windows, hanging washing outside, leaving wardrobes slightly open, pulling beds and furniture away from the walls and keeping the shower curtain hanging inside the shower or bath.
– The Southland Times