Damp, mould and mildew is not only bad for the health of your tenants and can cause respiratory problems, it can also seriously damage your Christchurch rental property. If you find any signs of mould, its important to address the issue straight away. Early detection and prevention of mould can save you a lot of headaches (and money) in the future- don’t think its entirely the tenants responsibility to avoid and remove mould and mildew. It’s likely tenants will hold you, as the home owner, liable for any health risks. That being said here’s some handy tips to avoid mould and mildew from your rental property.

Early detection is your best protection

Ensure you schedule a housing inspection for the beginning of Winter, look for any areas where damp and mould are likely to fester. It’s a good idea to have your property manager do this on your behalf, they know where to look and what to look for. 30% of homes in New Zealand suffer from problems with moisture internally, don’t become a statistic, inspect your Christchurch home ahead of the Winter months. It’s also a good idea to schedule another inspection in Spring to check for anything that may have been missed and ensure its resolved before the next Winter comes around.

Insulate your rental

A well insulated home not only keeps the heat in during Winter, it keeps it out in Summer- cutting heating and cooling costs all year round. Insulation also makes for a more comfortable, healthy home for your tenants. If the house is warm and dry, your tenants are happy. If you tenants are happy, you will be happy. Different parts of house require different insulation, and should be prioritised in this order:

    • Ceiling– generally the easiest, cheapest and most efficient insulation to install in your property. As hot air rises, its the top priority and with accessible roof space, relatively easy to install. Make sure you get a couple of different quotes to compare before going ahead with any provider.
    • Underfloor– most homes have access to under the house. It’s a good idea to check what current insulation you have, and whether you need it repair or replaced. This short video has some great tips.

  • Walls- wall insulation is not the easiest to check or install but can make a huge difference. Before going ahead with this, check local building consent requirements, ensure your wall cavities are dry and get your electrical wiring checked.
  • Windows- A lot of heat can escape through windows, doubled glazing is the most effective option and also helps to reduce outside noise. However, your choice in blinds and curtains can also make a difference when using high quality material and thermal lined fabric.

You may be able to have the cost of ventilating your property added to your mortgage, check here to see if your bank offers this option.

Ventilation is on your side

The average NZ family produces approximately 8 litres of moisture in the home each day from everyday activities such as cooking, showers and breathing. You can’t avoid this, and in fact it is completely normal. You just need to manage the moisture with the right balance of insulation, heating and VENTILATION. Your house needs to breath to survive, just like you (and your tenants!). It’s especially crucial to have ventilation in the bathrooms, laundry and kitchen- where most moisture is created. In these areas of the home, ensure you have good extraction system in place, without the need to open windows. In the middle of a cold Winter, you cannot depend on tenants opening windows and doors to act as manual ventilation. Fans and extractors need to vent to outside your house, instead of recirculating damp air or venting into your ceiling. They come in a range of sizes, and need to be fitted according to the size and type of room. Ensure you talk to a professional about what system is right for each room.

Find the source of moisture

Check under the house- a common source of moisture. Grab a handful of dirt and rub it in your hands, if it stains like mud there is too much moisture present. If this is the case, inspect any drainage, pipes, and plumbing for leaks. Uncover any vents that may have been blocked by plants, soil or pests. Inspect the walls and roof claddings and flashings, talk to a qualified and experienced building surveyor who can carry out this inspection for you.

Choose your heating wisely

You may think gas heating is great, but does it have a chimney? Unflued gas heaters are not only a fire hazard but also release a large amount of moisture and toxic combustion gases into your home. If you are using a gas heater or LPG portable heater with a vent or flue to the outside, always ensure it is close to a window and always keep it open to allow fresh air to enter the room. Never use unflued gas heaters in the bedroom.