Are Landlords Responsible For Pest Control?


There are few disagreements between landlords and tenants that cause as much trouble as who is responsible for pest control. Landlords often believe it is down to the tenant to keep their rental clean and pest free; meanwhile, tenants Google Are Landlords Responsible For Pest Control.

In most cases, landlords are responsible for pest control. However, there are circumstances in which the tenant is responsible. In general, landlords are responsible for pest control unless they can show the infestation is a result of tenant behavior. If this is so, the tenant becomes responsible.

Are Landlords Responsible For Pest Control?

Generally speaking, landlords are responsible for pest control in their properties. The basis for this is simple: the concept of an implied warranty of habitability. In practical terms, “implied warranty of habitability” means that when a landlord rents a property to a tenant, that property should be of a safe, healthy, liveable condition and that it should remain so for the duration of the tenancy.

As a result, a landlord is legally obligated to ensure their property is free from any pest infestation both when the home is first presented for rental and for the entire time the tenant is in residence. 

In addition, landlords cannot include any clauses in a lease that interfere with the implied warranty of habitability. So, if a landlord writes into the leade that the property is being rented “as is” and there turns out to be an existing pest problem, the landlord is responsible and not the tenant.

When Is A Tenant Responsible For Pest Control?

If it can be shown that an infestation is the result of an action or behavior of the tenant, then they can be held responsible for the pest control.

For example, if a tenant does not dispose of their garbage properly and the unit attracts mice, then it would be reasonable for the landlord to hold the tenant responsible. This responsibility extends to pest control measures in other units if they also become affected as a result of the original tenant’s actions.

There are also some states which have specific laws surrounding some pests, such as bedbugs, which put more of an onus on the tenant than the landlord. It is essential to check the laws in your state to ensure you are clear about any specific legislated responsibilities.

What Can A Tenant Do If Their Home Has Pests?

The first thing to do, when you discover your home has pests, is to contact your landlord and explain the situation. Then, whether your landlord is receptive to the problem or not, begin to document the infestation.

Make a note of what pests you have seen, where you were when you first saw them, and any other information. This can include if you can be sure where the pests are entering your rental, where, other than the location of the original sighting, you have seen them, and when you contacted your landlord. Continue to document.nt the infestation until it is resolved

Your landlord is expected to respond in a “timely” manner, which, depending on the laws in your state, is usually 23-48 hours. However, that does not mean the issue must be fully resolved, just that the landlord is taking reasonable steps in a reasonable timeframe. 

So.

If your landlord has called a pest control company to deal with the issue and they cannot get to you for a week, that is still a reasonable and timely action.

What Can A Tenant Do If Their Landlord Refuses To Fix The Problem?

Whether your landlord ignores the problem, tells you that it is your responsibility when it is not, or acknowledges the problem but does nothing about it, your options are the same.

Present your landlord with a copy of the evidence you have put together and reiterate that there is a pest problem that you believe the landlord is responsible for dealing with the problem and that you want them to resolve the issue.

A Warning

Before you go ahead with this next step, you should consult with a legal expert who has specialist knowledge of the rental laws in your state. This is especially important as in some states, a tenant cannot, for example, break a lease and move out early under any circumstances and, in fact, may end up being held responsible for paying compensation to the landlord.

So, as long as you have proper legal advice confirming you can go ahead;

Next, you can tell your landlord that if steps are not taken to deal with it by a specified date, you may:

  • Withhold all or a portion of your rent each week, month, or whichever frequency you make rental payments until the matter is resolved.
  • Go ahead and hire someone to deal with the pests yourself and deduct the cost from your rent. 
  • Break your lease and move out of the property.
  • Sue, the landlord for any cost you incur, such as paying for the pest control yourself, replacing any of your belongings which have been damaged by the pests, any medical cost you may have incurred as a direct result of the infestation, etc.

However.

Be sure only to include any steps you are legally allowed to take and that you are willing to take. 

What Can A Landlord Do If Their Property Has Pests?

As soon as your tenant reports an infestation, you should make a note of the time and date you received this information and then visit the property to investigate and document the issue. If it is clear that the tenant is the cause of the problem, you should inform them of this and outline the steps you require them to take to remedy the situation. Do this both at the time of inspection, if possible, and in writing after the inspection.

If the problem is not the result of tenant behavior, then you are responsible for fealing with it in a timely and reasonable manner. This could be as simple as buying a can of bug spray and repairing a small gap that had appeared around a window frame or as complex as having the entire property dealt with professionally.

If the property is a multi-home unit, it is also prudent to inspect all of the other units for signs of infestation and deal with those at the same time,

What Can A Landlord Do If Their Tenant Refuses To Co-operate? 

Be sure to give your tenants reasonable written notice that either you, the pest control company, or both, will require entry to the unit and specify the time and date at which you wish entry to be made.

If the tenant does not allow you into the unit, you can:

  • Talk to your tenants, identify their concerns, and find a way to deal with the infestation cooperatively.
  • Make entry with a key in order to deal with the pests.
  • Inform the tenant in writing that if you are unable to gain entry in order to deal with the pests, you may be forced to, ultimately, begin the eviction process.

Do Landlords Have To Declare Previous Infestations?

In some states, a landlord must proactively inform any prospective tenant about some or all previous pest infestations. For example, in some states, a landlord must tell anyone going to view a property if there had been, to their knowledge, a problem with bedbugs in the unit at any time in the past. Still, they may not be compelled to tell them about any other form of pest problem.

The best way for a tenant to know whether or not there has ever been a pest problem in a property is to ask the landlord. When a landlord is asked a specific, direct question in this way, they must, by law, be truthful. Be sure to ask about any past issues, concerning any type of pest, and what, specifically,  was done to remedy the situation. 

What Can A Tenant Do If Their Landlord Fails To Declare?

Of course, there are always landlords who are willing to break the law and lie, but there is no way to mitigate that.

If you move into a home that has had a previous infestation and you discover your landlord lied to you about this, your options depend on where in the country you live. In some states, you are legally entitled to end the tenancy and move out if you wish, but in others, you are not. If you find yourself in this situation, and you feel strongly about breaking the tenancy contract, get legal advice from someone who is familiar with the landlord and tenant laws in your state.

Does The Type Of Pest Affect Who Is Responsible?

The type of pest itself does not affect who is responsible. The responsibility lies purely with the landlord fo most cases and the tenant in the event that it is their actions that led to the pest problem.

Final Thoughts

In the majority of cases, a landlord is responsible for pest control. Still, if it can be shown that the infestation is a direct result of something the tenant has done or is doing, then the landlord can hold the tenant responsible.

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About The Author

Geoff Southworth is the creator of RealEstateInfoGuide.com, the site that helps new homeowners, investors, and homeowners-to-be successfully navigate the complex world of property ownership. Geoff is a real estate investor of 8 years has had experience as a manager of a debt-free, private real estate equity fund, as well as a Registered Nurse in Emergency Trauma and Cardiac Cath Lab Care. As a result, he has developed a unique “people first, business second” approach to real estate.

Check out the Full Author Biography here.

 

This article has been reviewed by our editorial board and has been approved for publication in accordance with our editorial policy.

Geoff

Geoff Southworth is the creator of RealEstateInfoGuide.com, the site that helps new homeowners, investors, and homeowners-to-be successfully navigate the complex world of property ownership. Geoff is a real estate investor of 8 years has had experience as a manager of a debt-free, private real estate equity fund, as well as a Registered Nurse in Emergency Trauma and Cardiac Cath Lab Care. As a result, he has developed a unique “people first, business second” approach to real estate.

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