Are Landlords or Tenants Responsible for Pest Control?
Posted by: James Allen
Date: October 15, 2020
Posted by: James Allen
Date: October 15, 2020
When it comes to renting a home or apartment, most people want a place that’s safe, sanitary, and secure. But as hard as you may try to keep your rental units renter-friendly, you may encounter critters creeping into your units from time to time.
When this happens, it’s important to practice pest control protocol right away. But who is responsible for keeping the unit pest-free, landlords or tenants?
In this guide, we’re covering tenant and landlord rights when it comes to pest control. Whether you’re a property owner or renter, you’ll want to know who pays when it comes to keeping units free of bugs, mice, and more.
Before determining who is responsible for pest control, you’ll typically need to consider the type of infestation. This is because state and local laws dictate which types of critters fall under tenant vs landlord responsibility. If it’s something that is common to the area, then it will generally be the landlord’s responsibility.
The most common types of apartment bugs and rodents include:
Pest control service provider Aptive offers a complete guide on how to identify common apartment critters. Once you know what you are dealing with, you can determine who’s in charge of extermination.
If your units have a pest infestation, you don’t have time to wait around. You’ll want to act quickly to get any bugs or rodents out of the unit so it gets back to livable condition. But exterminators aren’t cheap, so the question becomes who pays for pest control?
Typically, the onus is on the landlord. This is due to the fact that most states dictate that landlords are legally required to maintain a pest-free property. However, there are some exceptions where a tenant might be responsible for pest control or prevention.
Most state laws require that landlords offer a pest-free property in safe, livable condition. Landlords have an incentive to follow these laws, not only for legal reasons but to prevent damage to their rental units.
Additionally, tenants are more likely to renew a lease if the property is well-maintained and free of pests.
Check your local laws to determine when landlords are required to pay for pest control. For example, the Arizona Landlord-Tenant Act outlines the responsibilities of the landlord in detail:
The “implied warranty of habitability” clause in the Landlord-Tenant Act means that a landlord must maintain livable conditions within their rental property. A pest infestation can jeopardize living conditions.
It is recommended that landlords conduct seasonal maintenance and pest prevention, as well as deal with an infestation quickly so it does not get any worse. However, that doesn’t mean that a landlord has to pay for control in every situation.
A tenant may have to foot the bill if the pest infestation can be linked to tenant behavior or actions. For example, some pests like rats or mice are attracted to food on the floor or open garbage bags. In that case, a tenant is responsible for keeping the unit clean to avoid attracting pests.
Another issue that can attract pests is excess moisture. If a tenant doesn’t wipe up water from the bathroom floor and the wood begins to rot, this can attract termites. Additionally, if the tenant doesn’t notify the landlord of a leak and this leads to an infestation, they may be financially responsible.
A professional exterminator can help the landlord determine whether it was tenant behavior that led to the infestation. If it was the tenant’s living conditions that created the problem – and this cause is well documented – then financial responsibility of pest control may be passed to the tenant.
If you’re a landlord or property owner, you’ll want to know your rights when it comes to who pays for pest control. In most cases, the onus is on you to maintain livable conditions at your rental properties. However, here are a few FAQs to consider:
Bed bugs are very pervasive and legislation depends on state and local laws. Typically, the responsibility falls on the landlord. Landlords should keep up to date on bedbug laws in their area. If a rental property is free of bed bugs when a new tenant moves in and then an infestation occurs, it is likely the responsibility of the tenant to get rid of them.
If a tenant has given written notice to the landlord making them aware of the infestation, then the landlord needs to address it. If they don’t, then it comes down to local legislation to say whether a tenant can withhold rent or not. For Arizona state law, check out the Arizona Landlord-Tenant Act.
Again, this depends on state and local laws. Since a landlord is legally required to keep the rental unit in livable condition – and having a cockroach or mice infestation hinders this – a tenant may be legally allowed to break the lease.
Keeping pests at bay can be a full-time job, especially if your units are in an area where infestations are common. That’s why one of the best ways to stay on top of pest control is to partner with a property management company that will work to prevent pests for you.
A property manager will check on maintenance, conduct seasonal inspections, and work with local exterminators to keep pests away from your units. You’ll have more peace of mind knowing that your tenants will experience pest-free living conditions and you’ll save money compared to hiring exterminators on your own.
If you want to prevent damage to your properties and keep pests away for good, consider hiring a property management company to stay on top of your units. Your tenants will thank you!
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