This article is also a good read for landlords
Are you a tenant dealing with mould? First things first. Talk to the homeowner or property manager about it. Express your concerns. Ask if they will have a professional come and assess the situation – someone who is qualified in mould recognition and control. Document everything!
FACT: it is important to talk to the homeowner or property manager about your concerns.
Most homeowners will be pleased to help as they are smart enough to know that the home you live in will decrease in value if there is mould present. It will also be difficult for them to retain you as a tenant if you have concerns – and if you move, it may be difficult for them to attract a new tenant.
Be aware that sometimes you – the tenant – are contributing to the problem. High humidity in homes will encourage mould growth. We suggest that tenants use their bathroom and range hood fans when showering and cooking. It is also a good idea to air out your home, even in winter. Open up all your windows and turn off your heat for a period of time at least once a month. Keep furniture and boxes a few inches away from outside walls. Keep your closet open up a crack to allow for ventilation. Increased ventilation reduces humidity. The less humidity in your home, the less chance of mould growth. Make sure all beds are up off the floor on a frame, and not laying directly on the floor. Aquariums also contribute greatly to humidity in the home. If you have a fish tank you should be running a good dehumidifier in your home, or at the minimum, a fan should be running in the room where the aquarium is. Remember too that the larger your family, the more humidity you are creating.
Don’t think your bathroom fan is actually working? Here’s how you test it: Turn on your bathroom fan, hold a piece of tissue right up to it. If the tissue falls to the ground you may need the bathroom fan changed out. The tissue will stick to a bathroom fan that is pulling air adequately. Document this and report it to the homeowner or property manager.
Homeowners should have an electrician install a humidistat. A humidistat will automatically turn on the bathroom fan when the humidity is high and will run until it lowers. A humidistat should be installed on the outside wall of the bathroom at eye-level. There are also lockboxes available to cover the humidistats so that it cannot be completely turned off.
Do you see mould? Take some photos, document the date and make sure you share them with the homeowner. Are you suffering from respiratory issues and rashes? Go to your doctor and share your health concerns. Some doctors will issue a note attesting to the fact that mould may be the cause of your symptoms. Report this to the homeowner.
FACT: If you are a tenant dealing with moud, it is important to document everything.
Okay, so you have done all this and you are still feeling like the homeowner or property manager is still not addressing the situation to your satisfaction. Go to the BC Residential Tenancy Branch online: http://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/housing-tenancy/residential-tenancies
Go to the Solving Problems page, and Dispute Resolution. Dispute seems like such a strong word, but it is more like a mediation service for tenants and landlords. Click on ‘Create a New Application’. This will start a process in which the Residential Tenancy Branch collects information and documentation from you – the tenant – as well as the Homeowner.
At this time, if you have spent any of your own money assessing or attempting to repair the mould, you may ask for this to be reimbursed to you. For example: if you hired a professional to come to your home and inspect it for a fee, and they provided you with a report and photos. You may ask to have that fee reimbursed to you, and don’t forget to provide the Residential Tenancy Branch with the report and the photos. This does not mean that you will receive this money back, but you can put in a request.
It is important that you are clear and concise about what it is you actually want. Here are some examples:
• I would like the homeowner to have a mould inspection conducted on the home by a qualified professional
• I can see mould and would like the homeowner to have it professional remediated (removed)
• I am having health issues and think they are caused by mould in the home, I would like to move and break my lease with no penalty
These are just some examples; your situation is specific to you. When you go through this process make sure you take the emotions out of it and always be diplomatic and exact.