9 May 2022

Who Is Responsible For Pest Control? Landlord or Tenant?

Emma McLaren
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As a result of COVID-19, renters have been able to renegotiate better deals with owners.

After the pandemic hit, many tenants were able to speak to their landlords regarding the condition and succeeded in negotiating reduced rent. The reduced rent has been a better solution than being unable to pay the rent or eviction. Governmental laws have also served to protect renters.

These changes have been significant, but not everything has changed. An example is landlords or tenants being liable for free treatment of home pest infestation. This advantage is available as far as the infestation isn't the fault of any of them.

The problem at this juncture is figuring out who bears responsibility for a case of pest infestation on the property. There is currently no legislation to guide this, and it is left to be an open issue.

Hence as a renter, you have to protect yourself from costs by making sure you aren't the perpetrator. Also, you must report any pest problem as fast as you can. As for landlords, there's a responsibility to care for and be aware of the state of your property, especially before listing it for sale.

However, pests can beat your precautions and still try to thrive on the property. When this happens, it is the responsibility of the tenant and landlord to have open and considerate discussions on how to tackle the matter before it grows into a full-blown infestation.

Common pests

Pests can be a frequent occurrence depending on your vicinity. Some pests are more rampant in some areas than in others. Examples of pests that might be found are;

  • Ants

  • Cockroaches

  • Mice

  • Wasps

  • Rats

  • Fleas

  • Mice

  • Spiders

  • Termites

  • Possums

  • Snakes

Does your lease cover pest infestations?

As we've said, there are no government regulations to cover pest responsibilities. If you happen to face one, what you should do first is to check your lease agreement. The agreement should protect the decision made by the landlord and renter in case of an infestation, so it is essential to consider it when making the contract at the beginning of the lease. The landlord often requests that a clause be added if the tenant keeps pets on the premises. In this case, the tenant must fumigate to keep out fleas. The tenant should also inspect the intended property to ensure the current state at the time of renting.

What's the tenants' responsibility?

The tenant is generally in charge of their space and is expected to take proper care of the property. It is up to the tenant to report any sign of an infestation as early as possible. Food items should be kept safely and adequately, cleaning walls and floors should be done as often as possible, and baits and sprays should be used early enough to stop unwanted pests.

In a severe infestation, the tenant should contact the landlord and inform them about it. The lease agreement would come into effect here, and the infestation would be treated based on it. If the landlord insists the responsibility falls on you, you can report the situation to the state tenant authority. Also, the tenant should inform the landlord before inviting an exterminator.

At the end of a lease, however, it is up to the tenant to treat the property and remove the pests. In this case, the tenant is expected to remove:

  • Cockroaches, ants, and spiders developed during their stay.

  • Bees and wasps that might have started breeding during the tenancy.

  • Doing away with any snake found on the premises.

Responsibility of the landlord

It is the responsibility of a landlord to eradicate ongoing infestations on the property.

Termites and possums are unusual pests, and in these cases, it is the responsibility of the landlord to get rid of them. As a landlord, the best practice is to fumigate your property at regular intervals, especially if the environment is prone to pests. Add pet clauses into your lease agreement to ensure your tenant knows they must fumigate.

The scenarios where it is the landlord's responsibility:

  • Pests like cockroaches, ants, rats etc., on the property before it is rented out.

  • Possums and birds are nesting outside the property and causing damage.

  • Like possums, no matter when termites become a problem, it is solely the landlord's responsibility.

What to do in the case of a dispute over pest control

In a dispute over who should assume responsibility for treating a pest infestation, the first step should be to negotiate. A peaceful resolution is always the best option, and both parties should seek a swift resolution. The next step is to report the issue to the proper state authority to resolve these issues.

If there is a dispute, these are the steps to take:

  1. Communicate early

As soon as an infestation is noticed, you should contact your landlord or property manager to inform them about it and seek solutions. It is also advisable to keep records of your discussion for future reference in a more serious dispute.

  1. Document the problem

It is important to document details about the infestation. You can take pictures and videos with your smartphone or camera.

  1. Ask authorities for help

If you need further assistance in resolving the matter, reach out to your local tenant tribunal, they are capable. They would give you all the information and necessary legal steps to take.

To sum everything up, pests can be problematic. However, they can be effectively controlled when tackled swiftly. More importantly, tenants and landlords have roles to play in keeping the home pest free.

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