A Trevallyn family is the latest to claim a lack of support from Housing Tasmania as black mould continuously reappears in their bathroom, fearing it could have spread further throughout the house causing health problems.
The Kearnes family has lived in the house for several decades, seeing the mould reappear after cleaning repeatedly and repainting the bathroom. Opening windows appeared ineffective, they claim.
Emily Kearnes said repeated attempts to have the mould damage inspected further were declined. Then last month, they received a notice that the rent was increasing $50 per week.
"We call them and call them because the mould keeps coming back. It happens so often that there's got to be something behind the walls as well," she said.
"My dad has suffered really bad blocked sinuses for as long as we can remember.
"They tell us to paint over it, keep the windows open, and we do that. Housing say 'that's your problem, not ours'."
In March, a Devonport family finally got Housing Tasmania to inspect behind walls in their bathroom after six years of complaining only to find mould had unknowingly spread in the hallway and a bedroom, allegedly causing respiratory problems for a child.
The house required an almost total rebuild.
A spokesperson for Housing Tasmania said "mould is a tenant responsibility to manage" under the Residential Tenancy Act and it was up to the Kearnes family to manage it.
"If it is identified that the mould has been caused by a structural issue, HT will arrange for it to be repaired," he said.
"In this case from the information provided by the tenant there was no suggestion it was anything other than tenant related.
"When tenants contact HT in regard to mould issues general advice is provided which includes making sure the property is dry and well aired i.e. open doors and windows, and using some readily available household products, including white vinegar, as an inexpensive and practical product to kill mould.
"The tenant was made aware of their responsibilities on numerous occasions."
He said rent increases occurred when the household's income rose.
The Kearnes family disputed these claims, and Ben Bartl from the Tenants Union of Tasmania said Housing Tasmania had to ensure there was "appropriate heating and ventilation" under the Act, which appeared lacking in the Trevallyn case.
Condition of public housing deteriorating: Tenants Union
Mr Bartl said public housing properties in Tasmania were in "poor condition", causing Housing Tasmania to transfer more of its stock to community housing like Anglicare and the Salvation Army.
Once in community housing, rent assistance could be provided.
Mr Bartl said it appeared Housing Tasmania was hopeful that once they had transferred properties, the rent assistance could be used to improve the condition.
"Housing Tasmania appears to be thinking, 'how can we improve the housing stock when we don't have enough money?' They then decide to provide community housing with houses to get the rent assistance, and hopefully with that money they will use it to improve the condition of the property," he said.
"They are mostly transferring the management of the properties, but in the last few years they have been transferring ownership as well.
"If they own the properties, community housing providers would look to leverage off that ownership to take out bigger loans."
Any tenants - in private or public housing - can take their maintenance concerns to the Residential Tenancy Commissioner which has the power to order landlords, including Housing Tasmania, to carry out repairs.