When a renter spoke candidly about their harrowing experience, they disclosed that their entire flat was covered with mould. They were surprised by their encounter with a real estate representative in Melbourne.
When a Melbourne-based real estate agent first got in touch with Maddie Graham, a 25-year-old, she was overjoyed. She and her friends, according to them, were the “ideal customers” for a three-bedroom flat in the southeast of the city. At $690 per week, the rent seemed affordable, and there were no obvious problems in the web photographs. They had to move because of Sydney’s rental crisis, so finding a place to stay was a tremendous relief. The horror, though, was about to start.
The real estate agent kept citing reasons why Maddie and her roommates couldn’t perform a physical inspection before moving forward, and this is when the issues began. The property keys were allegedly “missing” at one point, leading to the cancellation of the appointment. Eventually, they were able to set up a remote inspection, and Maddie said that the building “looked fine” on the video.
On January 22, however, the crew discovered the apartment was covered with mould as soon as they arrived. In addition, the property smelled bad and was filthy with dust, bird feathers, and animal droppings.
In the closet of the master bedroom, one mouldy item was discovered. The main bedroom’s ceiling was like this.
At this point, neither a condition report nor a bond lodgement form had been given to renters by the real estate. Maddie stated that since they hadn’t received a condition report, the property manager had written to them to let them know that, despite what the renters had alleged, there was “no issue” with the home following a physical examination.
The 25-year-old said, “However, when we engaged an independent mould specialist, significant mould was found throughout the property, including the air conditioning, window walls, the master bedroom, bathroom, and wardrobe.”
According to the investigation, the mould was brought on by a concoction of “high humidity, condensation, and a heavily contaminated air conditioning split system unit that was dispersing airborne bacteria throughout the unit.”
The study advised the home owner to “urgently” clean the air conditioning unit to stop future pollution and provide the tenants access to a portable dehumidifier.
An independent inspection was arranged for by Maddy and her family to find out further pollution across the entire flat. Picture: Maddy Graham/Source
The air conditioning unit was’severely polluted’ with mould, according to the study. Picture: Maddy Graham/Source
The house’s numerous rooms all contained this mould. Picture: Maddy Graham/Source
Despite being present for a visual assessment, the property management persisted in saying that the mould was just “water damage.”
Maddy informed real estate of the need to move and their demand for a complete return of their bond and rent in an email received on January 30 that included images of the mould damage and other problems.
In the email, the renter said, “This place is uninhabitable and needs to be identified.”
The realtor responded that she had checked the entire property and had discovered “no mould.”
“Despite my constant investigation, the problem with the closet beneath the sink was not immediately obvious. We don’t move the furnishings when taking pictures. Since the owner would be pleased to fix any issues right away, we regret that we cannot refund any rent.
a section of the email discussing mold-related difficulties with real estate. Picture: Maddy Graham/Source
The fact that the cabinet was covered with paper, as Maddy saw, suggests that they were aware of the problem beforehand.
“The property should have been properly investigated to determine whether or not it is livable by you and the owner. It’s simple to move the cabinets, and it’s simple to gaze up into the roof area,” she added.
“It would be in your and the owners’ best interests to refund us and let us move without putting pressure on further action.”
She said they would go to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) if they did not get the entire return of $6040.
According to the real estate agent, the photographs of the home showed no signs of mould. Picture: Maddy Graham/Source
Two agents arrived at the house later that afternoon, and Maddy alleged that they were “extremely rude” and “slammed the door in our faces” after she attempted to explain the mould issue and file a complaint with VCAT.
The tenants made the decision to consult Victoria for legal counsel on consumer issues and began recording all conversations with the property, including bogus promises to remove the mould and merely paint over it.
A hearing was scheduled for a week after the VCAT application was submitted, however the real estate agent showed up “very unprepared” and asked for a delay without any preparation.
On February 28, during the second hearing, the magistrate rendered a decision in favour of the tenants and mandated that real estate pay $6040.
After giving the VCAT member the order, Maddy reported that they said the manager’s “failure to handle the problem properly, even a month later, shows that it was not suitable for rent due to the mould contamination.”
“Furthermore, the magistrate reprimanded the property manager for not effectively dealing with the issue, as a painter had been appointed only to paint over the mould, and even a month later, it had not been completely removed,” she continued.
Maddy urged other renters to raise issues with their rental houses. Maddy Graham’s Instagram.
The 25-year-old woman said that the manager grew more furious when the member tried to explain that the renters were not entitled to a refund since they did not return keys for two weeks because having keys would have enabled other tenants in.
“[The member] called me again for trying to rent the affected property with mould as unsafe and uninhabitable,” she continued.
“Our brokers were lucky to know people who were able to assist us find another house, but we applied to over 40 different properties and were consistently turned down. We were merely considering finding a place to live, so I was stressed and scared, she stated.