Is Mould a Legal Problem?

mould on ceiling

Photo by Michael Schaffler on Unsplash

A wet Queensland autumn has left many households and businesses dealing with mildew and mould. Sometimes the solution is a quick clean, but other times removal of mould is a complex problem, and disputes may arise about who cleans or who pays for cleaning. 

At work, school or university? 

Your employer, school or university must provide a safe work space (or living space, if you live on campus). WorkSafe has information about managing mould in the workplace.

If you think your employer is not following safe work practices or you want to report an incident, call Workplace Health and Safety Queensland
1300 362 128. 

Businesses, workplaces and schools or universities should make reasonable adjustments for people with disabilities including if your disability or impairment makes you more susceptible to mould in the environment. This could include taking steps to clean or minimise mould. The Queensland Human Rights Commission publishes more information about anti-discrimination matters.

Caxton Legal Centre offers a free legal advice in relation to employment law and human rights 

In a manufactured home or village park? 

Repairs to common property and maintaining access to your home are typically the responsibility of the park owner or village operator. However, damage in your home will generally be your responsibility to clean (or arrange cleaning for), as the home owner or village resident. 

Caxton Legal Centre can provide free legal advice to help you understand your rights under your site agreement or residence contract, or you can access general information on our webpage. 

On goods that you have purchased? 

Goods you have purchased must be of an acceptable quality and fit for any purpose that you told the seller you would use them for. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission publishes more information about consumer guarantees.

If you have any concerns that the items you have purchased do not meet these standards, and this has contributed to a mould issue, you can contact Caxton Legal Centre for free legal advice.   

Goods leased under a consumer lease or a rent-to-buy contract? 

The lease provider does need to make sure that new items are of an acceptable quality. However, if goods are damaged by mould while you are leasing them, you may need to clean or repair them. You may also be required to keep making payments under the lease. 

If you need help understanding your consumer lease, you are paying for an item you can no longer use or if you are in financial difficulty, Caxton Legal Centre offers free legal advice.   

In a Body Corporate? 

Who is responsible for cleaning up the mould depends on where the mould damage is, what may have contributed to the mould damage and the type of body corporate.  Generally, a body corporate is responsible for maintaining the common areas and the lot owner must maintain their lot in good condition.   

The Commissioner for Body Corporate and Community Management provides a dispute resolution service to owners in dispute with their body corporate and produces some general information about responsibilities about maintenance in a body corporate. 

If you were impacted by the 2022 floods and rain event, and need help understanding your rights as a member of a body corporate, you can contact Caxton Legal Centre for free legal advice.   

In a rental property?  

Responsibility for mould removal in rental properties can be an area of dispute. Tenants are generally responsible for keeping rental properties clean including removing mould, but owners have responsibilities to maintain the premises and repair any damage. If unrepaired water damage is causing problems, including with mould, the owner may be responsible. Tenants can get advice from Tenants Queensland, who also produce legal information about repairs and maintenance. Both tenants and owners can get information from the Residential Tenancies Authority. 

Personal injury?  

If exposure to mould causes you damage or injury, you may wish to seek legal advice about a personal injury matter.  Caxton Legal Centre does not give advice on personal injury matters. Some general information about personal injury matters is available from LawRight. 

As you will need legal advice and assistance, contact the Queensland Law Society to be referred to a private lawyer.