Is the landlord or tenant responsible for putting pest control measures in an apartment or property? Here is our detailed analysis of this critical situation.

When a property is rented, one of the most overlooked aspects is pest control. Cockroaches, bed bugs, rodents, spiders, termites, silverfish, ants, fleas, ticks and flies are some of the most common pests found across properties in U.S. Pests like bed bugs are stubborn and require comprehensive bed bug treatment for effective results.

Oftentimes, disagreements arise regarding the pest control responsibilities of landlords or tenants. A lot of people want to know who takes responsibility for pest problems or infestation in a rented property; the tenant or the landlord?

This argument is understandable since the cost of pest control services can be expensive at times, especially when there is an infestation. Steady surveillance, as well as scheduled visits, is required. These are post extermination services that serve as effective preventive measures.

Nonetheless, the cost implication for such services can be considerably high. Hence, no tenant will like to bear the financial burden. If the landlord is also not ready to foot the bills, conflict may result. It is believed that pest control falls under the general responsibility of both tenants and landlords to maintain the premises in a state of reasonable repair, safety and cleanliness. Many cases have gone before a tribunal where the interpretation of the tenancy legislation has led to judgement. At times in favour of the tenant but not always!

Landlord vs Tenants – Who is Responsible for Pest Control?

Mostly, the landlord will be legally charged with dealing with pest control. This is because of something called the ‘warranty of habitability’. Note that almost all rental contracts will include a clause that explicitly states a landlord must keep a property safe and habitable for tenants.

Howbeit, if a tenant is faced with vermin or bugs on a daily basis, their home will soon feel uninhabitable and in contravention of the contract they signed. Meanwhile, there is one primary exception to this.

Once it can be proved that the pests are in the property as a result of the tenant’s carelessness, then responsibility to deal with the infestation will fall on the tenant. In most cases, this is because properties are kept in unsanitary conditions, for instance with food left out in the open.

Similarly, if the tenant keeps pets and they bring in fleas, in these cases it will also be the tenant’s responsibility to deal with the pests. In some cases, it can be impossible to tell why the pests have arrived, and therefore impossible to apportion blame. In these cases it may legally fall to the tenant to deal with the problem.

Once there is a pest infestation in a property, the tenant is charged with reporting it promptly to the landlord. The landlord is then expected to take steps to deal with the problem within a reasonable time – for instance, by fixing any holes through which the pests are entering.

What a Tenant Should Do If the Landlord Refuses to Take Responsibility for Pest Control

Landlords are also responsible for making repairs that have been caused by the pests. But if a landlord becomes unresponsive when a tenant reports infestations and pest issues, the tenant may report the landlord to the environmental health department at the local council.

In these cases, an inspection of the property will be made. Immediately after the inspection, the council has a number of options for action. In some cases this might be as simple as offering the tenant advice on how to deal with the problem, or informing the landlord that they are aware of the problem but have chosen not to take any further action.

Nonetheless, in the case of real infestations, there are more dramatic courses of action. This agency might deal with the infestation, and then mandate the landlord to pay the costs. Or, they may serve the landlord a notice ordering them to deal with the pests.

But as with almost every issue that arises during a private rental agreement, the ideal solution is for landlord and tenant to work together. Pest and infestation problems can be a nightmare for tenants and, if left unchecked, quickly deteriorate the property itself – which no landlord wants.

  • Conclusion

Landlord and tenants all have responsibilities when it relates to pest control. This is for the maintenance of the rented property. The landlords should although take the lead and be responsible for every issue relating to their property. Their role here involves fumigation before the house is put on rent. This ensures that the new tenant does not move into an infested house.

Both landlord and the tenant are expected to fulfill their responsibilities when it comes to keeping the property pest-free for a win-win situation. Regular inspection can help in the early identification of any signs of a pest infestation. This enables both parties to save a lot of time, money and efforts in the future.

Joy Nwokoro