A pest infestation in a rental property can cause problems for both tenants and landlords. Pest control is the process of managing (by using deterrents or repellants) or removing pests. Managing or controlling these pests can be done in several ways.
Of course, preventing a pest issue is much preferred to dealing with one that has happened. But if the problem exists, there is only one way to deal with it: removing the pests.
Is pest control a landlord or tenant responsibility?
Pests and vermin can become evident in a rental property at any stage of a tenancy. Determining who is responsible for managing the issue is complex.
Check your lease agreement
The first step in determining responsibility for your issue is to read the lease agreement. Some tenancy agreements include a clause regarding pest control. In these situations, use your signed agreement as your guide.
Check the Residential Tenancies Act
If your tenancy agreement fails to address your pest problems, you should look at the Residential Tenancies Act 1997. The Act states that “the tenant must take reasonable care of the premises and keep the premises reasonably clean.”
So pest problems brought about by uncleanliness (e.g., the failure to dispose of rubbish properly) or caused by the tenant (fleas from pets) will be the tenant’s responsibility.
However, as a general rule, an outbreak or infestation of pests or vermin not due to the above will be the landlord/lessor’s responsibility.
Tenants – Your pest control responsibilities
Generally, tenants are held responsible for a pest infestation such as fleas caused by pets. Tenants are also responsible for pest prevention by ensuring food is properly stored and using sprays and baits where necessary.
Landlords/Owners – Your pest control responsibilities
In most cases, property owners/landlords will be held responsible for pest and vermin control on animals such as rats, mice and termites. The one exception here is if the pest’s presence was caused by the tenant’s poor housekeeping or lack of cleanliness.
If the tenant did not properly dispose of their rubbish or undertook activities that increased the pests’ presence, you could argue that this is your tenant’s responsibility.
Health and safety concerns
If you’re renting a property with a pest infestation and are genuinely concerned about your health and safety, make your concerns known to your property manager or landlord.