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Who is responsible for repairing mould damage after a leak in the apartment upstairs?

Property Clinic: My landlord painted over the walls but the paint has cracked and mould has appeared

Last year there was a leak from the apartment above mine that led to issues in both my bathroom and bedroom. At the time, my landlord painted over the walls but the paint has since cracked and mould has appeared. The mould has also spread to items in my wardrobe. Who is responsible for removing the mould and repairing the damage? Is this an issue for my landlord or the management company?

Occurrences of mould may be due to, but not limited to, one of the examples I describe below as water can present in the same place from multiple different sources over time. The bathroom, hot press and kitchen above you have an array of appliances and facilities that can fail over time. Mould is a fungus that can be harmful to you and it needs to be treated so that it is removed from your home. Early mould staining can be treated with a variety of vinegar-based products but some clothing may not be salvageable.

Your landlord may have in good faith believed that the matter was resolved.

You are obliged to notify your landlord of the matter in writing to afford them the opportunity to resolve the issue. Under the Housing (Standards for Rented Houses) Regulations 2019 last updated in August 2022, your landlord must keep the property adequately ventilated and free of damp. If your landlord fails to address the issue you may refer the matter to the local authority for enforcement or the Residential Tenancies Board.

As the owner of your apartment, your landlord is a member of the owners’ management company (OMC) and that is the point of contact for you to report damp ingress to. If the water is emanating from the common areas, the OMC is required to rectify the issue and make good any damage. If covered for water escape, a claim can be made off the block policy for costs associated with remedial works.


If the property is damaged as a result of a leak emanating from the apartment above, the onus is on that property owner above to resolve the issue. The OMC or its agent may assist them in this regard by arranging search-and-trace plumbing works and liaising with loss adjusters and insurance providers. Some developments do not have insurance cover for water escape; if they do your landlord may claim off the OMC block policy.

The apartment owner above may also make a claim if they suffer loss. The OMC will then pay out to the claimants, less the excess. Your landlord may decide if the excess is too high to claim for their damages from the property owner above if evidence is available to show that water emanated from that property and damaged theirs. An OMC block policy will not cover defective workmanship and as such will not provide cover if this is the case. If the property owner above is not addressing the issue the OMC may do so under section 13 of the Multi-Unit Developments Act 2011.

It may be the case that the leak is intermittent and requires further investigation to source the cause. Your landlord may have in good faith believed that the matter was resolved. Examples include a full bath causing the overflow to drain away water, or a seal can fail with deadweight – some plumbers can miss this by running the water without standing in the bath or shower tray. Drying clothes in a bathroom or bathing children can direct water to areas not sealed. A kitchen appliance that has failed or is not plumbed correctly and used irregularly can also be difficult to identify. Having the occupants present at the time of the investigation will give a better picture of the day-to-day use of the property and help identify potential intermittent leaks.

The leak may have been stopped but may not have been correctly treated. Adequate drying time and ventilation is vital. You may have had to leave the window open for longer than you would have liked or turned off a dehumidifier prematurely. As a result, trapped moisture may have facilitated mould growth.

It is unclear from your question if the source of the leak was resolved or if it was simply hidden temporarily. The appropriate treatment of a resolved leak is to allow the plasterer’s work to dry for a few weeks with plenty of ventilation and with the assistance of dehumidifiers to quicken the process by way of eliminating excessive ambient moisture. Once dried, a mould cleaner needs to be applied followed by the application of a stain blocker and finally a coat of fresh paint to the affected area.

Paul Huberman is a chartered property and facilities manager and a member of the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland