Issues with pests and infestations are a common cause of worry and stress for millions of households across America. According to Mantis, around half of American homeowners are forced to deal with ants at given times throughout the year. Additionally, data from the United States Census Bureau found that nearly 15 million US households reported seeing rodents in and around their property between April 2020 and April 2021.
For homeowners, the responsibility of safeguarding their living spaces lies squarely with them. However, the picture can often be slightly clearer for individuals and families in rented accommodation.
That is why we have put together this article detailing what to expect when dealing with pest issues as a renter.
What are the top three pests that cause damage?
The answer to this question can vary slightly depending on the time of year and where you live. However, if you are renting in Jackson or looking to move into the area, certain pests may appear more often than others.
Ants are often cited as the most common pest. The main issue with ants is their size and the fact that there will almost certainly be many of them as part of an infestation. Carpenter ants can be particularly damaging to households because they can chew and burrow into the wooden structures within your home.
Cockroaches are another pest that can be especially damaging if left untreated. Not only do they destroy fabrics and surfaces, but they will also contaminate food and leave a pungent odor wherever they settle. They are also more resistant to sprays than many other bugs.
The third type of pest that will be most likely to cause damage to your property is a rodent. While they may not be as numerous as insects, the damage they cause will often be more substantial. They are also likely to bring diseases into your home.
Are landlords responsible for paying for pest control?
As a general rule, landlords are responsible for paying for pest control in the event of an infestation or a pest issue. This can also apply to garden pests and infestations.
In particular, landlords are responsible if the infestation is caused by the poor structural integrity of the property or if previous efforts at pest removal have proven inadequate. Exact situations are often cited in the tenancy agreement so if you are in doubt, always check this as a first step.
Are there situations when the tenant is responsible?
While the landlord is predominantly responsible for the safe upkeep of the property, there may be situations where the tenants may need to accept responsibility for the problem.
This is usually linked to negligible behavior on the part of the tenant, such as if there is excessive mess and garbage in and around the property that is attracting pests. If there have been significant delays in reporting pest issues to the landlord, the tenant may also become liable.
In these situations, the landlord will need to prove that the direct actions of the tenant have caused the infestations. An external party, such as a Health Officer, may need to investigate on behalf of the landlord to prove fault.
What is the most problematic pest to get rid of?
Insects and bugs are usually more challenging to get rid of than rodents. Termites, bed bugs, and cockroaches can all be tough to remove altogether from a property.
Termites may only make themselves known after a mature colony has taken form within a property’s structure. This means they can be tricky to tackle due to sheer numbers alone. Bed bugs are tough to find and can also repopulate quickly, and cockroaches can be resilient to many forms of treatment that work on other pests, making both a tough job to get rid of.
Who is responsible for removing rats from a rented property?
In the same way, landlords are expected to deal with bugs, they are also responsible for removing rodents from a rental property. Rodents are usually less numerous in a property but can be harder to trap and may cause more extensive damage.
While it is possible to use traps that can be bought from a store, the landlord should hire a professional pest removal service to remove all the problem traces permanently.
What if the landlord refuses to take responsibility?
If you find yourself in a situation where your landlord refuses to take responsibility, avoid making rash decisions, such as withholding rent. You should do everything you can to address the problem through dialogue.
If there is extended inactivity from the landlord, you may look to explore legal options. If you can identify precise points in the tenancy agreement that explicitly states the landlord’s obligations, then focus on these when presenting your case.
Can I end my tenancy early because of rats?
You can check on the circumstances related to ending your tenancy early in your tenancy agreement. Every agreement is slightly different, so there is no universal rule to this.
If there is no apparent tenancy break clause, you will need to be able to prove that your landlord is not fulfilling their obligations of maintaining a safe space to live in order to instigate a potential release from your contract.
Pest infestations within the home are never nice, especially if you have upheld your responsibilities by looking after your rented property. The most important thing to do if you find yourself with a pest problem is to review the obligations and responsibilities in the tenancy agreement. It is not usually advisable to attempt to tackle the problem yourself as you may end up doing more damage to the property, which may result in you becoming liable.
Instead, ensure that you make your landlord aware of the situation as soon as you discover it and record your attempts to resolve the issue if your landlord tries to evade their responsibility of getting rid of those pesky bugs.
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