DOES THE TENANT OR LANDLORD PAY FOR PEST CONTROL?
I have seen numerous cases where landlords & tenant have come to me with a pest infestation problem and ask – who is responsible? Does the tenant or landlord pay for pest control?
Their worry is understandable given that pest control needs to be taken seriously. If not addressed, it can lead to different problems for both tenants and landlords.
Does the tenant or landlord pay for pest control, depends on the situation which we will cover here.
WHAT IS PEST CONTROL?
Before we cover does the tenant or landlord pay for pest control, what is pest control ? It’s a process of eliminating the outbreak and infestation of a number of types of insects and animals. The most common categories of pest that you may find at your rental property consist of rats and mice, cockroaches, ants, fleas, wasps. spiders, snakes, silverfish, flies and mosquitoes.
Pest control is a procedure in which pests are managed and eliminated from the house by using traps, pesticides, repellant, or deterrents. And, this method can be carried out in a number of ways. Also, most of the pests mentioned above can be eliminated by using simple supermarket products, which include baits, insect sprays, and traps.
Evidently, preventing a pest infestation is a preferable option instead of dealing with the one that has already cockroaches and rats running around in your home. However, if, by chance, the property gets infested by the pests, there is only one way to deal with it, which is eliminating the pests.
Now, the question arises, who is responsible for pest control? Legislation is a little grey around this. If you ask the landlord, they will say tenants are responsible as they have rented the clean and hygienic property, and if you ask the tenants, they would generally blame the landlords for the pest infestation.
Pest control is the general responsibility of tenants and owners to maintain the premises in a state of reasonable repair, safety, and cleanliness. Numerous cases have been taken to the court where the interpretation of the rental legislation has led to judgment. Sometimes it is in favour of the renter but not always.
What RTA has to say about pest control? Read here.
DOES THE TENANT OR LANDLORD PAY FOR PEST CONTROL ?
Pests and vermin can be seen anywhere and at any stage of the tenancy. The major problem is determining who is responsible for handling this issue. In fact, the legislation in Qld is unclear about pest control and is open to interpretation.
Pest control can fall under the responsibility of both landlords and tenants. Tenants need to maintain the cleanliness of the property. If they don’t it will attract pests. Usually, the landlord or property manager ensures the property is clear of pests at the start of a tenancy. Then when the pest infestation was caused by tenants’ lack of cleanliness or poor housekeeping, the tenants are held responsible, and they should do the pest control at the property.
So does the tenant or landlord pay for pest control ? The answer is both. Additionally, if the tenants have received the house free from pests at the start of the tenancy period, it is their responsibility to leave the rental property in the exact same condition. If your tenant has not disposed of the rubbish or has undertaken activities that increase the presence of pests, as a landlord, you can argue and win a dispute that it is your tenant’s responsibility. But what is essential is the chronology of events leading up to the discovery of the pest problem.
CHECK YOUR LEASE AGREEMENT
If you ever come across a pest infestation issue at your property, the very first step is to read your lease agreement. Since several tenancy agreements have a clause on the subject of pest control, it can help you determine who is responsible for the pest infestation. The lease agreement can be your guide and help you in dealing with the situation more professionally. It will even help you find who is responsible for the pest issues.
In most of the cases, your rental agreement will clearly define who is responsible for pest infestation. Learn about different types of lease agreement here.
Additionally, if you are a tenant, you should properly inspect the property before signing the lease. Along with this, ask the landlord when the last time they conducted pest control in the rental property was. This could give you an insight into whether your potential home is pest free or not. After all, no one wants to stay in a home and, after some days, notice cockroaches and rats wandering the kitchen.
Also, if you suspect there is a pest control problem, you should get a clause regarding the pest control included in your lease agreement. This will help you if any pest infestation case arises in the future, and you are being held responsible for the issue.
CHECK THE RESIDENTIAL TENANCIES ACT
If your rental agreement fails to resolve your pest problems, you should consult the Residential Tenancies Act, 1997. The law states that “the tenant must take reasonable care of the premises and keep the premises reasonably clean.”
Thus, pest problems caused by uncleanliness (for example, the fact of not properly disposing of garbage) or which are caused by the tenant (pet fleas) will be the responsibility of the tenant. As a general rule, however, any pest occurrence or infestation that is not the result of the above will be the responsibility of the owner/lessor.
According to RTA, you cannot expect the following from the tenants:
- They leave the rental property in better condition than it was at the start of the tenancy period.
- You cannot ask your tenants to use a specific pest control service. They can use any service of their choice.
- You can specify the amount to be paid to the pest control service, either.
You can direct them to use pest control products from a particular brand.
DOES THE TENANT OR LANDLORD PAY FOR PEST CONTROL WITH TERMITES
It’s the tenant’s responsibility to report termites to the landlord or the property manager the moment they see any indication of them. We’ve had a tenant hear termites munching inside walls late at night. We’ve also done a routine inspection and found a window sill to have soft wood. Both times termites were found and extensive damage had already been done.
It’s the landlord’s responsibility to deal with termites. Ideally, at the very minimum, landlords would have a termite inspection every 12 months. This is where the property is visually checked for termites by a specialist. If termites are found then the same special can treat them and recommend what other protection may be needed for the future. We find Bundilla Pest to be very reliable and you can reach them here.
TENANTS – YOUR PEST CONTROL RESPONSIBILITIES
There are certain cases of pest infestation for which tenants are held responsible, such as fleas (caused by pets). Also, as a tenant, you are also responsible for pest prevention. It means you must store the food properly and use baits and sprays whenever necessary.
And, as a tenant, you must make sure that an infestation does not occur. It also means you have to keep the house clean and address the presence of pests early.
Once the entry condition report is completed, you are required to inspect the property for maintenance and cleanliness issues. It may include looking out for ants, cockroaches, and spiders.
However, if you notice the situation is getting worse and it existed before you have moved in, immediately contact your property manager and landlord. If your landlords ask to deal with the issue yourself, you can always head to state tenant authority for advice.
According to the tenancy agreement, on vacating the rental property, you need to organise a flea treatment control if you have pets. Also, go through your agreement to see the terms and conditions of your tenancy.
These are some of the common responsibilities of the tenants:
- They should clear wasps and bees if they ever start building a nest after they have moved in.
- They should remove cockroaches, ants, or spiders during their tenancy period.
- They should also deal with a snake safely if they even find one in the backyard of the house.
DOES THE TENANT OR LANDLORD PAY FOR PEST CONTROL WHEN THE TENANT VACATES
Legislation states that if the tenant has had a pet either inside or out they must have a pest spay. But you also need to leave the rental property in the same condition as per the entry condition report. So consider this usually means, no cockroaches, ants or spiders. You can read more about vacating on my article about getting your bond back
LANDLORDS – YOUR PEST CONTROL RESPONSIBILITIES
Mostly, landlords are held responsible for organising pest control on animals, including mice, rats, and termites. However, if the pest infestation is because of the lack of cleanliness or tenant’s poor housekeeping, tenants will be held responsible. As you own the property and you are aware of the ongoing pest issues, you should handle the matter yourself and protect the tenants as well as the property.
The best way is to check and inspect the property before renting it out. Also, less common pests, which include termites and possums, are generally the responsibility of the property owner. You should also add a pest clause to your rental agreement if the tenants have pets.
If the tenant has not properly disposed of their garbage or has undertaken activities that have increased the presence of pests, you have the right to argue that this is the responsibility of your tenant. You can even fill an entry notice form if you want to enter the rented property on a specific date to investigate more about the pest control issue.
These are some of the common responsibilities of the landlords:
- You should deal with the situation when possums and birds are nesting in the house and causing damages to the property.
- When ants, bees, wasps, cockroaches, fleas, bedbugs, or vermin are seen in large numbers, you should deal with the problem right away.
- Termites are always your responsibility regardless of the occurrence of their outbreak.
HOW TO DEAL WITH PESTS?
If your pest problem requires costly action or turns into a bitter conflict, it can be difficult to resolve, whether you rent or own it. Negotiation is the first step to finding a result that works for all parties.
In the early stages, steps can often be taken to resolve the problem without calling in the experts. However, in extreme cases where you cannot reach a resolution, either party may request the appropriate state court for a decision.
HEALTH AND SAFETY CONCERNS
If you are renting a property that is infested with pests and you are really concerned about your health and safety, discuss your concerns with your property manager or landlord.
If you see any mark of pests before moving in, you can ask your landlord to organize a pest control service in the apartment.
The owner is responsible for eradicating pests if the infestation occurs at the start of the rental. Renters should inspect the property carefully and look for signs of pests, including excrement in closets and on floors. You should also check if previous tenants owned cats or dogs, as fleas could breed in the carpet and not appear for a few months.
Also, while organizing pest control, make sure you keep in mind the health and safety concerns. Ask them to use environmentally-friendly products and pesticides that won’t harm the environment.
Whether you are renting a property or own the place, pest infestation is a serious issue. So, tenants and landlords should both take good care of the property. Also, landlords should make sure the place is pest free before renting it out.
I would recommend speaking with the owner to find an amicable solution that works for both. When this is not an option, and the tenant believes that the owner is responsible for the harm, several options are available.
The tenant can serve notice to the landlord of a breach of the agreement, a legal form by which the tenant can describe the aspect of the lease that the landlord does not comply with, in this case, failing to keep the property in reasonable condition clean, not to be repaired. The tenant can also contact the local council’s environmental health officer and inform them of the situation. Beyond that, bringing the case to the Magistrates Court is the next step in the appeal.
Lastly, pests are quite common these days. However, the situation with pests should be addressed as soon as you notice their outbreak, no matter who discovered the problem.