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Pest Control Responsibility in Rental Properties
It’s finally Friday night. You’re sitting by the fireplace under a cozy blanket, enjoying a cup of cocoa. Suddenly, out of the corner of your eye, you see them: roaches.
You quickly call your landlord, but they tell you to handle it.
As a renter, is getting rid of pests your responsibility? It depends.
This article examines who is responsible for pest control — the landlord or the tenant. We will also discuss how leases and laws may determine the answer and steps tenants and landlords can take when pests become a problem.
Who Is Responsible for Pest Control in a Rental Unit?
Who is responsible for pest control in a rental property? The answer depends on several factors.
Pest control laws vary from state to state, and lease agreements usually include information about how pest control will be handled.
2 Factors That May Determine Who’s Responsible for Pest Control
In addition to being health hazards, pests can damage rental properties and cost hundreds of dollars to eradicate.
However, getting rid of unwanted pests is only half the battle. Understanding who is responsible for pest control is the other half of the equation.
The following information will help determine who is responsible for removing these unwanted house guests.
#1: State and Local Laws
All states require landlords to provide safe and habitable rentals. There may, however, be special pest control provisions for landlords under state and local laws.
For example, landlords are required to provide appropriate extermination services whenever necessary in Colorado. But in New Jersey, landlords are only responsible for keeping multifamily units pest-free.
It is in the best interest of both landlords and tenants to be aware of state and local pest control laws.
#2: Lease Agreements
A good lease will specify when the tenant is responsible for pest control and when it is the landlord’s responsibility.
Regardless of the state, a lease cannot contradict local laws to reduce the landlord's responsibilities. There is a possibility, however, that the lease can place more obligation on the landlord than local laws require.
In most leases, landlords typically take care of preventive maintenance and seasonal pest control — and infestations caused by tenants are the tenants' responsibility.
To discourage infestation, the lease should specify that tenants are required to keep their units clean and pets free of fleas.
To prevent infestations from worsening, the lease should also require tenants to notify the landlord as soon as they notice an infestation.
Pest Control: Tenant or Landlord Responsibility? It’s a Team Effort
It is the tenants' responsibility to keep their residences clean.
While that doesn't mean homes must be spotless, there should not be …
- Food left on counters; or
- Garbage piled high
Annual inspections of the rental property are essential for this reason.
The tenant is also responsible for keeping their pets flea-free.
If a pest infestation occurs due to a tenant’s pet, the landlord may choose to pay for pest control and charge the tenant. It could be very costly since the problem may have spread to several units by the time the landlord's pest control company arrives.
It is the landlord's responsibility to ensure that buildings meet local codes and that rental units are habitable. All rental property should be treated for pests seasonally and preventively by landlords.
Landlords should also investigate any reports of bug infestations from tenants. When there is a problem, the infestation must be dealt with immediately, even if the landlord thinks it is the tenant's fault.
However, remember that the tenant may claim that the infestation is the landlord’s problem. For example, wasps in the wall that eat through drywall and then become a dangerous situation.
When responding to a call from a tenant, landlords should look for signs that the tenant may have caused the infestation. Taking photos of a unit with garbage piling up inside or in an unsanitary condition can be helpful. If the landlord has to charge the tenant for pest control, these pictures will serve as evidence.
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Steps Tenants and Landlords Can Take When Pests Become a Problem
If a tenant finds they have a pest issue, they’ll want to take immediate action. Depending on the wording in their lease agreement, they may choose to:
- Contact their landlord
- Call a pest control company
- Use baits, sprays, or traps
When reporting issues to the landlord, it’s important that the tenant checks the rental agreement and keeps a communication log.
Taking care of pest issues is part of a landlord's "day in the life," and any issues must be addressed immediately.
If a landlord lets the problem linger due to avoidance or questions surrounding financial responsibility, the situation can escalate and result in even more problems, including fines.
The following tips help landlords quickly address pest problems:
- Investigate the complaint or issue immediately.
- Identify the type of pest(s) you have and how they are getting into the residence.
- Get the proper remedy immediately if a tenant complains about a bug, rodent, or insect.
- Let your tenants know the situation and that you are taking care of it.
- Exterminate the pests and provide measures to prevent further infestation.
Common Ways Landlords Manage Pest Control
Pest control management can be handled in any way that suits the landlord. The following are two examples of how landlords may deal with pest control issues.
When pest control is needed, landlords can make an agreement with a pest control company on a case-by-case basis.
For example, when issues arise, such as a tenant spotting termites or hearing something scratching inside the wall, the tenant can call a specific pest control company. Payment will then be handled in whatever way is specified in the lease agreement.
Different payment methods for case-by-case pest control management include:
- The resident gets a discount
- The landlord receives a bill; or
- The bill is split evenly between the resident and the landlord
General Agreement With a Pest Control Company
Pest control contracts usually include regular pest control services, such as inspection for signs of pests and routine spraying. They can also include additional services such as treatment for various pests (like ridding a patio of bees or trapping a pesky squirrel) and cost and payment methods.
If you are the landlord, you can opt to charge your tenants a separate price for pest control or include the fee as a part of the rent.
Whether you are a pest control operator with a case-by-case or general pest control contract, it’s essential to be organized. Do you need help in this area? Look no further than Cedar Pest software!
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Why the Landlord Might Want To Take Responsibility To Protect Their Investment
Regardless of whether the pest infestation is the fault of the landlord or the tenant, it is in the landlord's best interest to protect their property and investment.
Therefore, they should resolve any critical pest issues as soon as possible to preserve their property and keep it ready for the next tenants.
Spending money now to eradicate a small problem will save money down the road.
Cedar Pest Software: Tools To Help Pest Control Companies Manage Rental Contracts
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Pest control software from Cedar Pest can help you achieve your goal.
Cedar Pest ensures maximum efficiency and scalability by allowing you to manage all new and previous jobs from one convenient location.
Our sales software lets technicians quickly view client histories, send contracts, and view important notes.
And, you can streamline your day-to-day operations with Cedar Pest software’s:
- Seamless features
- Powerful tools; and
- Modern interface
Pest control is what we do best, and our software was designed with pest control operators in mind.
Cedar Pest is ready to help you prepare for the future of pest control.
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