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CobdenHayson tells renters to open windows to prevent mould as Sydney shivers through freezing week

Sydney real estate agent sparks outrage over email to tenants on how to prevent mould – but is his advice fair enough?

  • Sydneysiders shivering through city’s coldest start to winter in three decades
  • Real estate tells tenants to open windows regularly in winter to avoid mould
  • Thousands of homes experiencing mould in wake of recent heavy rain, floods 

A real estate agency has told hundreds of tenants to open windows and let in fresh air to help stop mould growing as Australia’s biggest city shivers through freezing weather.

Sydney has experienced its coldest start to winter in three decades as overnight temperatures plunged to 6C on Friday morning, dropping as low as 1C in the city’s west.

As the struggle to stay warm extends into the long weekend, real estate agency CobdenHayson sent renters a list of suggestions to help them ‘prepare for the winter season’. 

In the email, obtained by The Guardian Australia, the agency said Sydney homes were ‘designed to have windows open on a regular basis’ to help prevent the health hazard of mould.

Homes along Australia’s east coast are grappling with a mould epidemic after the nation’s wettest year on record.

The email, sent by the agency’s Marrickville branch in Sydney’s inner west, also reminded tenants that managing mould was their  responsibility.   

A Sydney real estate has urged its tenants to open windows during winter to avoid mould

‘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.’

CobdenHayson Marrickville said the email to tenants was a directive from head office.

‘The email makes reference to general recommendations, if the tenant chooses to take those general recommendations it is entirely at their discretion,’ the agency said.

Daily Mail Australia has contacted CobdenHayson head office for comment.

Households have been battling with mould ever since Australia was inundated with a deluge of rain for most of 2022.

From the back of photo frames and wall-mounted bed heads to hand woven baskets and storage canisters, Aussies have spent months battling the dangerous growth and discovering it in hard to spot areas. 

Sydney renters have been urged to let fresh air in during the chilliest start to winter in decades

Sydney renters have been urged to let fresh air in during the chilliest start to winter in decades

Renters and landlords have obligations and responsibilities in relation to mould management in homes, according to the Tenants Union of NSW.

Tenants must keep the premises ‘reasonably’ clean, advise the real estate agent or landlord of any mould damage and take reasonable steps to  avoid damage.

The landlord must comply with ‘fit for habitation’ standards, which includes adequate ventilation, plumbing and drainage

They must ensure floors, ceilings, walls and supporting structures aren’t subject to dampness, that roof, ceilings and windows do not allow water penetration into the home and to keep the property in ‘reasonable’ repair.

The recent drop in temperature has also prompted a spike in sickness as Australia braces for its worst flu season in three years.  

Tenants’ Union of NSW, Leo Patterson Ross says tenants shouldn’t be expected to expose themselves to an environment that’s too cold by opening a window to avoid mould build-up.

Hev added mould damage bigger than the size of a plate is a likely indicator of a structural problem, which is a landlord responsibility.

Renters and landlords both have obligations to prevent mould build-up after recent heavy rain and flooding along Australia's east coast

Renters and landlords both have obligations to prevent mould build-up after recent heavy rain and flooding along Australia’s east coast

Why and where does mould grow?

Generally, if you can see or smell mould, you need to clean up and remove the mould immediately, as mould can damage surfaces it grows on. The longer it grows the more damage it can cause.

Mould only grows when there is sufficient moisture. When mould appears, the first task is to try to establish where the moisture is coming from.

Parts of a house that get wet or have poor ventilation are prone to mould growth, such as:

Avoid conditions encouraging mould growth, by using heat, insulation and ventilation. The cheapest and easiest way of reducing moisture and humidity levels is by ventilating a room by opening a door or window. Use exhaust fans where available.

Source: Better Health Victoria