A NSW landlord has been ordered to pay her tenants more than $14,000 after the property she owned became mouldy after heavy rain.
The tenants made an application for compensation in the Civil and Administrative Tribunal earlier this year while the two-bedroom villa apartment was undergoing repairs to damage caused by water ingress and mould.
The tenants claimed the rent they paid was excessive due to the damage caused by the mould and the associated repairs.
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They also applied for compensation from the landlord for having their quiet enjoyment of the property interrupted because of the water ingress and subsequent mould and repairs.
The tenants moved into the property in December 2019 on a 14-month contract, paying $960 per fortnight.
They first reported water ingress to the landlord’s agent months later, in February 2020, and made several other reports of water ingress up to October 2022.
“The source of the leaks were failures of the roof and water proofing in the common property of the Strata Scheme,” a decision handed down by the tribunal last month said.
“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 water tracked beneath the wooden floors and skirtings causing some detachment and extensive mould and fungal growth in the underfloor area which broke through the floor surface as black staining.”
“The tenants have submitted … the mould and fungal growth was unsightly, malodorous, and caused the tenants skin and eye irritation and respiratory distress.”
By October 2022, the wooden floors and skirtings of the rented premises and at least one wall were in very poor condition.
They had warped and split and were damp and severely mould affected.
The tenants also claimed the mould damaged clothing, personal possessions and furniture.
The tribunal heard the property manager reported the issue to the strata manager promptly, requesting action to address the problem.
Evidence submitted showed there was extensive water ingress throughout the complex, which was the subject of an insurance claim by the owners’ corporation.
Remedial works were undertaken at the property from December 2022 to February 2023, forcing the tenants to move out of the apartment temporarily.
At the time, they were still paying rent and no reduction or waiver was put in place.
In response to the application, the landlord contended she was not responsible for the state of disrepair of the roof and waterproofing of the strata scheme and said it was the responsibility of the owners’ corporation.
She also argued the rent on the property was not increased from December 2019 until May this year, due to the condition of the property, meaning the tenants were paying an under-market value during that period.
She also said the tenants’ claim about their loss of use of the property was exaggerated.
In his decision handed down last month, senior member of the Civil and Administrative Tribunal Philip French determined the rent the tenants were paying was excessive for an entire year they were living in the apartment.
French also determined the tenants were entitled to compensation for damage and loss they incurred due to the landlord’s breaches.
He ordered the landlord pay her tenants a total of $14,766 in compensation.
“The tenants experienced a significant reduction in their use of the premises … due to water ingress, damp, and mould,” French said.
“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.”
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