Mould House

Reporter: Georgia Main

Mouldy carpets...Mouldy walls...Mould and damp everywhere...

"everyone's horrified but nothings getting done about it."

Judy Bennett has called this rental property in Melbourne's South East home for 9 years...But a hole in the bedroom ceiling...which her real estate agent promised to fix when she first moved in...is still there.

Three years ago...it got worse...and now when it rains no room is safe...

"this is the worst room you really have to hold your nose I keep the door shut but it stinks." Judy says

Georgia "Oh that's really bad...not good...it would take your breath away."

"This is where my son drilled 6 holes in the roof because the water was that heavy, we got about 8 buckets of water in there...It was coming down his arms when he was drilling the holes."

Georgia "Obviously it's all in the carpets...the walls?

Judy "there's mould there's plants growing out of the walls the actual smell is unhealthy."

Which is why Judy moved out...

"This is what I call home now."

Georgia "The shed?"

"Yeah but this is a lot safer I don't get wet. Clothes smell when you get them out of the wardrobe even when you go to eat up there you can taste mould." Says Judy

For 6 months...Judy's lived with live wires...no heating or cooling...

Georgia "does the real estate agent know you're living here?

Judy "In court I told them that I was living in the shed."

Georgia "What did they say?"

Judy "Nothing really nothing."

And today their silence continued...we spoke to director of McLennan Real Estate Tony Rachele who told us he'd "try" to get back to us. We're still waiting...

When we contacted director of McLennan Real Estate Tony Rachele...in a statement he said:

This unfortunate situation came to my attention subsequent to a VCAT order being made for a warrant of possession due to rental arrears. We did not execute the warrant of a possession, as the tenant requested time to seek alternative accommodation.

As to the roof repairs, the landlords are in the process of carrying them out.

Further, should the tenant request our assistance in finding alternative accommodation we are happy to assist.

"When a property's fallen into disrepair the tenant really has to serve a notice to the landlord to repair the property. If it's an urgent repair like a serious roof leak then the landlord has got to respond to that more or less immediately."

"In November I said I'm not paying I'm living in the shed I'm not paying so I didn't they took me to court and basically the outcome is I've been evicted." Says Judy

Judy had no idea of her legal rights...and with the recent flooding in Victoria and Queensland...there's concern there'll be an explosion of mould...

Toby Archer from the Tenants Union...

"There's actually no obligation under our tenancy law to ensure that a landlord provides a house that's in a condition that's weatherproof...waterproof and meets a whole heap of basic health these sorts of things are incredibly common"

Like this Queensland department of housing rental infested with mould...

Jonah "every morning I wake up coughing a lot with a runny nose."

Liz "we've had contractors in I've scrubbed it myself countless times."

But it keeps growing back...At Liz Kinzett's rental property...the mildew was so bad it was declared unfit for human habitation...

"When I lifted the carpet up I found mould and toadstools growing." Liz says

Liz's real estate agent responded by evicting her and her small son Jonah...

"It's so wet you can actually wring the moisture out. We breath in the spors, the spors grow in our lungs usually and then over a period of time they move into the blood stream and cause what we call a systemic infection

Microbiologist Cheryl Power..."the mould can really grow into wood and sometimes you might even need to replace the surface that it's growing on but the most important thing is to keep things dry."

As for Judy...she's concerned that the house she used to call home will be cosmetically fixed up and put straight back on to the rental market...

"They're going to have the same problem as I'm having unless they know their rights and people are aware this actual house here don't move in unless you're sure it's been fixed."