Healthy housing supports human health needs including the provision of a safe water supply, sanitary facilities, structural safety, good domestic hygiene, ventilation and light.
Unhealthy housing may adversely affect the health of the occupants.
Common Unhealthy Housing Concerns
Mould is a fungus that grows indoors and outdoors in wet or moist areas that are lacking adequate ventilation. In the right conditions of dampness, darkness and poor ventilation, mould can grow on walls/wallpaper, ceilings, bathroom tiles, carpets, and wood. Common places for mould to grow indoors are on windowsills, fabrics, carpet, and walls and ceilings in kitchens, bathrooms, and laundry areas where moisture occurs.
People respond to mould in different ways depending on the amount of exposure and their overall personal health. Mould produces tiny particles called spores, which can cause health problems if inhaled by people. Exposure to mould spores can cause mild to severe reactions which may include eyes, nose and throat irritation, including coughing and wheezing, and allergic reactions creating symptoms of asthma. Mould can also release an odour which can be disagreeable, affecting personal wellbeing.
Showering, cooking, laundry activities and simply breathing can add moisture to the air in your home.
Simple ways to control moisture and prevent mould include:
- checking foundations, walls, windows, roof, plumbing, tubs and sinks for water leaks; repair and dry the area. Ensure surface water is directed away from the foundations of the house;
- installing insulation;
- opening windows while you are home;
- turning on exhaust fans or opening windows when showering, cooking or using dryers;
- drying washing outside rather than inside;
- opening curtains to allow the sun to come in;
- keeping the home warm throughout and ensuring good air circulation. Cold rooms encourage condensation to form, and surrounding materials to become damp. By keeping rooms warm and having furniture and other belongings away from exterior walls, warm air can circulate, which may reduce mould growth;
- laundering or throwing away wet and badly damaged musty-smelling items like clothing or mats;
- cleaning and drying surfaces inside the house that get wet or moist. Remember when removing mould, protect yourself from mould spores by wearing gloves, glasses or goggles, and a respirator or face mask. You must also follow the directions of the manufacturer of the cleaning product you are using.
Asbestos was traditionally used in a range of building materials including roofing, interior and exterior wall cladding and insulation on hot-water pipes. It was phased out of building materials during the 1980s. If your house was built before 1990, it is likely that it has asbestos building materials. Houses built before the mid-1980s are highly likely to have asbestos building materials.
Asbestos is not dangerous if it is left undisturbed. However, damaged and deteriorated asbestos-containing materials release asbestos fibres that may be breathed in, cause illness and can lead to death.
Asbestos-containing material cannot be identified by looking at it. If you are in doubt about a building material it is safest to assume it contains asbestos and take appropriate precautions.
For further information, please refer to Asbestos: A guide for householders and the general public and the Asbestos Awareness Checklists and Fact Sheets.
Reporting an Unhealthy Housing Issue
If you are renting a property and suspect an unhealthy housing issue is or is likely to impact on your health or the health of another occupant, please contact your property manager and try to find a solution.
If you cannot reach an agreement after speaking with your property manager, you can contact us for advice.
We may investigate your concerns and determine whether the premises is or is likely to become offensive, injurious or prejudicial to health, or is so unhealthy that no person can safely occupy the premises.
We will also consider if the situation is caused by structural defects or occupier behaviour, or both, and take action to alleviate public health risks if required.
We will not investigate complaints about dwellings that you no longer occupy, nor will we act on your behalf for a refund of your bond, compensation or damages.
For further information, please contact us.