Hot and humid weather in summer can cause mould infestations in homes. Unfortunately, mould attacks can have a serious impact on home prices and rents, forcing owners to settle for lower returns, says natural light and ventilation specialist, Solatube Australia. One sure-fire way to beat the harmful fungus is through proper ventilation and natural light.

“Mould can be a health risk for tenants and purchasers and a ‘wealth risk’ for vendors and landlords if it’s not treated quickly,” says Solatube’s Brett Dickson. “Unfortunately, mould is rampant in many parts of the country thanks to this summer’s prolonged hot and humid weather, not to mention the recent heavy rains. It’s a perfect storm for mould. However, mould can actually grow indoors at any time of the year when there is poor ventilation, rising damp or a water leak. It’s why homeowners and landlords should tackle the issue head on, with air and light.”

The cost of mould for property owners

Jason Guildea, Principal at Guildea Residential on Sydney’s lower Northern Beaches, observes that property owners can end up paying a huge price for a mould attack in their homes.

“We generally find that when an investment property has a mould issue, it costs the landlord money either through a tenant vacating without a break-lease fee and the property being left vacant, or from the required cleaning costs and rent reduction until the mould is removed," he says. “The laws dictate that a landlord must provide premises that are fit to live in.

“And when selling a property, you only get one chance to impress the buyers, which is why it’s important to make sure your property is in good condition and well presented – which means it’s essential there is no mould present. A well-presented, mould-free home leads to more buyer interest, which creates buyer competition resulting in a better sale price.”

Stop mould from moving in

A mould attack can occur anywhere in the house – all the fungus needs to thrive is a place that’s damp and dark. This can mean walls, ceilings, roof cavities, rugs, carpets, tiles, furniture and clothing. Mould infestations can be prevented by ensuring proper ventilation and natural light in the building.

NSW Health recommends using exhaust fans while bathing, operating a clothes dryer and cooking and also keeping the windows open when possible.

Solar Star

Solatube’s Solar Star is a solar-powered roof ventilation system that helps reduce the chance of mould occurring in roof cavities. Substantially different to a wind vent, Solar Star is designed to create a cooler, drier home by removing heat and moisture from the roof cavity without adding to the energy bill, compromising the security of the home or letting in dust, rain or pollution. The Solar Star is also whisper-quiet and easy to install.

“Many older homes have bathroom ventilation that goes into the roof cavity, which can lead to even greater moisture – and thus mould build up,” explains Dickson.

“More energy efficient homes with less temperature fluctuations and better quality insulation are likely to have less mould incidents. You may be running your fans, dehumidifier and air-conditioning unit to cool and dry your home to reduce mould growth, but heat and moisture continue to come down from your ceiling, which hinders your efforts and costs you money.” 

Guildea agrees: "I have found that tenants from the cooler Northern Hemisphere countries aren't used to having the windows open and thus keep the house closed up. They prefer to heat and cool the home with air conditioning, which keeps moisture in and creates a mould problem.

"As every summer seems to get hotter and more humid, owners need to ensure their property is properly ventilated to keep it mould free. Being proactive ensures property investors get a better rental return while helping them keep the value of the property at a maximum. We have had numerous situations where improved airflow and ventilation at a property stops mould and improves the liveability of the property.”