A Sydney real estate agent has told renters to open their windows to prevent mould – as the city shivers through a major cold snap.
A Sydney real estate agent has advised renters that they should regularly open their windows to prevent mould build-up – as the city shivers through its coldest start to winter in more than 30 years.
CobdenHayson’s Marrickville branch sent the email on June 1 with recommendations “to help you prepare for the winter season”, The Guardian reports.
The email said Sydney homes were “designed to have windows open on a regular basis”, and that management of mould was “the responsibility of each tenant”.
“As winter approaches, residents are often reluctant to open windows however, this is critical to ensure adequate ventilation,” the email said. “Where possible leave a window slightly open during the day.
“Mould is not always a sign of a leak or problem, it is largely attributed to a lack of ventilation and can manifest of its own accord in humid environments, then spread quickly if left untreated. Cleaning this early will not only improve your health but will assist with ongoing mould management.”
Who is responsible for mould?
According to NSW Fair Trading, “adequate ventilation is one of the minimum standards that properties must meet to be considered fit to live in”.
But who is responsible for mould depends on how it developed.
“If mould developed from a build-up of moisture because the landlord failed to repair a defective window in a reasonable time, or the property didn’t have adequate ventilation – then the landlord is responsible and must fix the problem,” Fair Trading says.
“If the mould developed during the tenancy because the tenants allowed a build-up of moisture by never opening any windows or not using ventilation fans in the bathroom – then the tenant may be responsible.”
CobdenHayson has been contacted for comment.
The agent’s website reads, “We ask ourselves this question every day, ‘Will this direction better help our customers?’ We tend to have robust conversation about what it is we do and how can we make it better on the regular.
“We acknowledge that we’re in an industry that sits pretty low on the trust scale but that only fuels us to change that perception.”
Coldest start to winter in decades
Residents across much of the country’s east have been battling toxic mould in their homes after months of unprecedented heavy rain and flooding.
Now the country has been plunged into a major winter freeze, with many cities reporting their coldest start to winter in decades.
Temperatures in Brisbane are forecast to drop to just 6C on Friday. The city has not seen a week so cold this time of year since 1904, according to Weatherzone. Melbourne is looking at its coldest week this early in the season since 1982 and Sydney since 1989.
By Thursday, even Cairns and Darwin will be “notably cooler”, according to Sky Weather meteorologist Rob Sharpe.
“The humidity will be sapped out of the air by the dry southerlys, with the coldest weather due on Friday and coldest morning on Saturday,” he said.
Patchy frost, primarily on the NSW slopes and ranges, is expected on Thursday morning.
It will continue into Friday and Saturday morning, also affecting Queensland.
Mr Sharpe said there was even the chance of frost up into the Atherton Tablelands in Far North Queensland.
On Monday and Tuesday, the frost will become much more widespread through the southeast.
‘Can’t keep on top of it’
Families have turned to online forums in desperate attempts to find a solution, as the problem leads to shortages in dehumidifiers and mould absorbers across northern NSW and southern parts of Queensland.
Frustrated parents in one Facebook group said last month they had taken a variety of measures to try to fix their problem, but their attempts had been in vain.
“I personally have already had my home professionally cleaned by a mould cleaning company, used many a chemicals including Exit Mould,” one Newcastle-based mum wrote.
“I have even tried the white vinegar trick and have about 20 of the moisture absorbers throughout the house with also circulating fresh air each day.”
Another said the issue in her home had become so severe that she “can’t keep on top of it myself anymore” and was hoping for some professional help.
Families have been similarly affected in Queensland, with homes also becoming inundated with black mould – a particularly dangerous fungi that can have serious health implications.
“Who is responsible? There is black mould developing around the walls and ceiling in our bathroom,” one woman shared in a group.
“It is poorly ventilated. There is only a small window which is always open. We requested a exhaust fan when we moved in and they said no.”
Black mould breeds when humidity is at or over 70 per cent, with access to an adequate food source like drywall, oxygen, and temperature between four and 39 degrees.
People exposed to mould can experience a host of painful symptoms including coughing, postnasal drip, sneezing, dry, scaly skin, itchy eyes, nose, or throat, and nasal congestion.
For asthma sufferers, mould could trigger an attack in the form of wheezing, shortness of breath, coughing or chest tightness.
How to get rid of mould?
A common and effective way to remove mould from an infested home is by taking undiluted vinegar in a spray bottle to spots where the fungus has grown.
After saturating the problem areas, the vinegar should be left for at least an hour before being wiped away.
If some mould remains the process can be repeated a few times over, and combined with a follow-up scrub of one teaspoon of baking soda and two cups of water.
The best defence against mould is to maintain a dry home, which may need to be regularly opened to fresh air.
A dehumidifier can also help avoid the growth of mould by preventing the build-up of dampness.
– With Chantelle Francis