pest control landlord tenant responsibility

Who Is Responsible for Pest Control, Landlords or Tenants?

Spring means an increase in flowers, sunshine and bugs. When bugs and other pests make their way in to rental properties, it can cause conflict between tenants and landlords as to who is responsible for pest control.

Its a good idea to brush up on knowing how to handle a pest infestation this time of year, to enable you and your tenants to take action right away.

We prepared some of the most commonly asked questions for Avvo’s legal team. You can hear Esther’s answers in this video below.

Note: Avvo provides a flat fee service where you can search and consult with a lawyer for 15 minutes. It’s a nice option for complicated situations regarding pest control.
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Who is Financially Responsible?

Pest control isn’t cheap, so the issue of who is financially responsible can create some tension in both parties. It’s normally the responsibility of the landlord/owner to contract with a pest control service to maintain the structures, whether a multi-unit building or single family home. Pest control responsibility should always be included in the lease agreement.

We were lucky enough to get Avvo’s Chief Legal Officer to weigh in on this subject in this blog post.

A good landlord usually won’t want to leave seasonal pest control up to the tenant, as things may not get done to their satisfaction. Most services are performed by professional crews on a quarterly basis and that can usually keep everyone ahead of the more serious infestations.

When Landlords Pay

The implied warranty of habitability means that landlords must maintain livable conditions in a rental property. A pest infestation is one of those things that will jeopardize that condition. So for the most part, it’s up to the landlord to arrange and pay for pest control.

If the infestation is due to natural circumstances, the landlord is responsible for taking care of the problem. In other words, if the rental property is located near a grassy field and the tenant reports mice, the landlord needs to arrange for and pay for the exterminator. Other natural pest conditions might include termites, spiders, ants, rats, wasps, and sometimes cockroaches and bedbugs.

Most landlords make arrangements for seasonal maintenance and prevention, as well as the immediate pest control and pay for it on their own so the problem does not get any worse. However, just because a landlord makes all the arrangements doesn’t always mean that they foot the bill in every case.

When Tenants Pay

If a pest infestation can be linked to tenant behavior or actions, its then up to the tenant to bear the financial burden. Some pests, like ants or cockroaches, are attracted to areas that are unclean. If the tenant has trouble with taking out the garbage regularly or keeping food covered in the kitchen or pantry, it can attract the pests. Excess moisture from poor upkeep or non-reported leaks can also attract certain pests. A flea infestation may also be the result of a tenant’s pet, and would therefore be up to the tenant to foot the bill for treatments.

In these instances, the exterminator can help the landlord determine whether or not the tenant’s living conditions are attracting the pests. Poor housekeeping, moisture or infestation due to pets that are documented can mean that the financial responsibility of pest control can be passed to the tenant. Also, landlords who discover such living conditions or pet conditions may want to issue a comply or quit notice to ensure the tenant won’t be attracting more pests to the property again and again.

The Bedbug Dilemma

Bedbugs are on the rise across the country, and many places, like New Hampshire, are passing new laws to try to curb their growth. There may be different rules in place when it comes to a bedbug infestation than for other types of pests. It’s important for landlords to be up to speed on bedbug laws in their area, before they receive a panicked phone call from their tenants.

Bedbugs are notoriously difficult to get rid of, and they are easily transported from one place to another on clothes, luggage, skin and more. If a rental property is bedbug-free at turnover, and an infestation occurs, it is most likely the responsibility of the tenant to get rid of them. However, if the rental property has a history of bedbug infestations, it is most likely up to the landlord to take care of it, since the infestation may not have been completely effective.

It’s worth it for landlords to check up to see if their city or state has enacted any laws about bedbug infestations in rental properties and make sure to comply with those laws in the event of an infestation.

Pest Control Timeline

If a tenant contacts a landlord about a pest infestation, it’s important that the landlord act immediately and then sort out finances down the road. Failure to act on a pest infestation could mean legal trouble and the tenant might be within their right to withhold rent until the problem is fixed.

There’s no reason why landlords cannot respond with an exterminator appointment within a few days after notification from the tenant. In order to protect themselves from any conflict or legal action down the road, it’s important for landlords to document everything relating to the infestation, such as when the tenant first reported it, what action the landlord took, invoice and notes from the exterminator and any other interaction from the parties.

Lease Agreements

Many landlords address pest control in the lease agreement, especially when there are no state or municipal laws on the topic. One option is that the landlord agrees to turn over a pest-free unit to the tenant and do seasonal maintenance, and then any pest infestations are the responsibility of the tenant. Another option is for the landlord to arrange for regular preventative pest control services, usually 4 times per year, and the tenant is responsible for anything outside those scheduled visits.

No matter how pest control issues are worked out, it’s important for them to be discussed in detail prior to signing the lease so that both parties are clear on who is responsible for what.

What pest control responsibilities have you set up with your tenants? Please share this article and let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

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  1. Paige Smith

    It is interesting to learn that there are various lines in which a tenet and a landlord can both be charged for pest control. For instance, if a tenant is a complete slob with food every where then the tenet would pay. However, if the pest infestation is due to a hole in the wall or something then the landlord would have to pay. What are some of the most effective ways to handle this?

  2. Trish

    I have been trying to get my unit sprayed since the beginning of the year. Now it’s a huge problem and nothing is being done about it. What steps do I need to take to get this problem taken care of?

    • Stephen Michael White

      Trish, be sure to document everything. Put your requests in writing (so it’s documented) and be sure to notate all requests made by phone or in person. Take pictures if possible and have open communication with the landlord.

      If they’re making empty promises, then this will help hold them accountable. If they are refusing to do any spraying, ask what the basis is.

  3. Marie agee

    I have been living in this property for 3 years and every year around Sumner time I get every pest that u named and even a family of ground hogs that makes holes in the ground and I tell my landlord and he tell me to call a exterminater instead of him doing it and I also have wild weeds that looks like I live in the jungle and he tells me that it for your privacy from the front and back yard it looks crazy. What should I do?

    • Stephen Michael White

      Marie, the only way to address these situations is delicately, at first, and with great documentation. It sounds like your landlord is a little on the lazy side and looking to get out of some responsibilities so you need to voice your concerns and requests and draw some lines in the sand. If you’re a longer term renter, any landlord should be happy to take care of the property to keep you around.

      So my advice is to start with a thoughtful, polite letter voicing your requests. Mention how the work will only improve the property and certainly keep a long-term tenant happy and sticking around. At the end of the day if the landlord is just an unreasonable person, you have to decide if this is someone you want to continue renting from. A bad landlord, or at least one you don’t see eye to eye with, may not be worth the hassle of being frustrated constantly.

  4. McKayla Strauss

    That actually makes a lot more sense to me now. My brother has been complaining about a bug problem in his apartment for a few days now and thinks that his landlord should pay for the pest control services. From what I know about my brother, I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if the bug problem is from his eating and cleaning habits. Just based on that alone, it seems like he should be the one to pay for pest control, not the landlord.

    • Stephen Michael White

      Haha, funny how we know our siblings so well McKayla!

      Your sense of reason is refreshing, I’m used to hearing that everything is the landlord’s responsibility.

  5. Marie

    I own my mobile home. It is located in a mobile home park and I rent the lot. I have noticed ants coming into my property. Whose responsibility is it to do pest control. Me or the owner of the land? I live in nc

    • Stephen Michael White

      Marie, chances are the landlord would address the ant problem. But before you call on him to do so, be sure you’re not the reason the ants are looking to get into the mobile home. If the place is messy and you are inviting the pests in because of the living conditions, the landlord would not be responsible, you would be.

  6. Tonya

    When I moved into this house in January within a timespan of 2 to 3 weeks we found bedbugs. My landlord used a worthless exterminator that spent less than 30 minutes in my home. She told me anything after that day it was all on me. I’ve continued to battle and spend money trying to rid myself of these pests. She refuses to pay for it to be done correctly and I’ve offered to pay half. I live in Kentucky and there is no laws for landlords to follow.

    • Stephen Michael White

      Tonya, the point that sticks out to me is the 2-3 weeks before finding the infestations. I can see the landlord looking at the situation from the point of view that you may be responsible for bringing them into the unit and therefore not wanting to take full responsibility of removing them, as this would be a problem caused by you. Especially if the unit did not come furnished, as bed bugs are usually brought in through mattresses and sheets that you would own, not the landlord.

      I realize this may not be the case, but I’m exploring both sides of the equation here. Either way, when you’re dealing with bed bugs you’re in for a long journey to control them. I can absolutely see the first treatment not working, just like the cases of flea infestation. And without any legal protection in your state, your option at this point looks to be dealing with the problem on your own. I’m sure the landlord will work with you if you’re easy to communicate with and active in your search for a solution.

      My advice from this point would be to come up with a plan with the help of your landlord and exterminator. The landlord has an interest in seeing the issue through so that future tenants don’t have the same issue. It’s an unfortunate situation but one that you’ll likely be managing.

  7. Jessica

    Roaches in our apartment we saw them the day after we signed the lease. I reached out to the landlord and manager and they put fogger in but that didn’t do anything. I re read my lease and noticed that it says that the tenant is responsible for pest control. My unit is clean spotless we sealed all the holes and cracks we saw and they still are here. My landlord has been out with an exterminator twice 1st time they inspected all the u its, 2nd time cleaned one of the units and places traps. I reached out to her and told her that we are still seeing them it’s been 2 weeks since the traps were places and she not the exterminator have been out. We moved in on 4-2015 and it’s been 2 months. What do you recommend we live in CT.

    • Stephen Michael White

      Jessica, this is a tough situation, sometimes places are very difficult to rid of infestations. On a good note, it seems so far that the landlord has recognized the problem and not tried putting the responsibility of pest control on you. The bad news is that professional help does not seem to be working to rid the property of infestation.

      I can imagine this being frustrating for everyone involved, you and the landlord. At the end of the day, you have to make a decision on what is best for you. If you love the property and you’re willing to endure the extermination process, at the landlord’s expense, then you cooperate and hope the experts get rid of the roaches sooner than later. If you’re totally grossed out and can’t stand the thought of being further inconvenienced by the infestation and efforts needed to fix the problem, I’d have a conversation with the landlord and explain that this is not a suitable living environment. Had you known of the infestation, you would not have entered into a lease agreement.

      At that point the landlord will either work with you to get you out of the lease, or pull out all stops and do everything shy of dropping a nuclear bomb on the apartment to get rid of the infestation. Simple fogging won’t do, so you’ll likely be displaced for a short time while they seal up the property and give it everything they’ve got.

      Keep a good line of communication with the landlord and explore your options.

  8. Alex

    Need advise. Rat,mice and roaches inside home. Just moved in to a town home in California that is privately owned. When I did the walk through with landlord we did not see a rat nor roach. As we started moving in on the first day, we started seeing roaches. 2nd day we noticed a infestation in the kitchen,especially at night. Few days later we noticed rat droppings in the cabinets. We immediately called and emailed landloard. Even sent pics through emails. Landloard took care of the roaches but not the rat problem. Landloard says that we should pay for pest control to come out and take care of the problem cause they were never there and that they must have came from outside. We set sticky rat traps for now to catch these suckers and have been success with 4, within a month and half period. We hear them walking through walls at times. I am now scared for the safety of my kids and newborn baby. We have been emailing back and fourth and been sending pics of the big rats. He still feels we should pay. Concerned parent.

    • Stephen White

      Alex, it sounds to me like the landlord should take responsibility. My advice is to pay the exterminators to come out, because you need immediate help for the safety of your family. Then you should take that invoice to the landlord and offer to pay half if it’s reasonable.

      Otherwise it sounds like you’re in for a long battle with your landlord. Which may not be worth the time you’ll have to spend in an infested apartment.

  9. Laila Keirstead

    I think that the pest control really depends on the situation. If the tenant moved in and found a cockroach problem or some other pest in the house, I think the landlord should pay for it. Likewise, the tenant should pay when they are the reason the pests are in the house. I know plenty of people that are hoarders or have some sort of problem with keeping things clean. If you can’t keep the place clean pests will come in.

  10. Maggie

    My house has a serious black widow infestation, they are huge and have been here a long time. We told our landlord months ago and he still won’t do anything even though the lease said the house was bug free. I don’t know what to do at this point, I can’t afford to get rid of them myself and it is a major safety concern for both me and my pets. I live in California btw. Any advice?

  11. OleMulholland

    We rent a single family home with a yard. In our lease it states “Tenant shall notify Landlord of any pest control problems” (we don’t see or notice any pests, luckily so we have not notified the landlord) and “Tenant shall provide his or her own pest control services”.

    With no notice, our landlord has sprayed for ants and sprinkled white powder around the base of the house and has had an ant exterminator show up unannounced twice. I see no ants. I did turn away the last ant exterminator because I didn’t call them and was given absolutely no notice. I believe the landlord is paranoid because apparently they had ants at one point where they live which happens to be 100 yards down the street.

    What we desire is to live peacefully, grow our organic garden, allow our two pups to roam freely in the yard with no risk to them of eating chemical laden grass. If we see several bugs or ants we’ll inform the landlord and/or hire an exterminator.

    Obviously we have the right to be given 24 or 48 hour notice, depending on what you read and what the notice being given is for. My question is: when you consider the language I mentioned in the lease above and since I truly do not see any ants (we’re in the yard watering plants and flowers daily) does the landlord have the right to have an exterminator just show up and start spraying the yard because he thinks it needs to be done?

  12. Stephen White

    Maggie, if it were me personally, I’d be freaking out!!

    I hate spiders, especially poisonous ones!

    Be firm with your landlord and tell him that the infestation must be taken care of or you’ll be forced to seek help through other means. It sounds like the landlord is ignoring the problem and needs to realize how serious it really is.

  13. Stephen White

    Ole, you are correct – you need to be given proper notification before someone enters your property. Period.

    Having said that, I would have a conversation, or a well thought out letter, to inform the landlord exactly what you just wrote. I think you’re very articulate and have genuine concerns. If your landlord is even slightly reasonable, he should understand this and back off. Just reassure him you’ll be very vigilante in the event you notice the beginning signs of infestation, but until then cool it with the sprays and chemicals.

    • OleMulholland

      Thank you, appreciate the affirmations and suggestion!

  14. Stephen White

    Keep us posted on how you made out!

  15. tracy beaudrie

    Question…. My daughter bought a manufactured home in a trailer park. She has only lived and paid lot rent now for 3 months. She is having a serious problem with a family of very aggressive racoon’s!! I mean aggressive like a few nights ago they chased her and my young grand baby around her hone to her car!! Landlord said its not their responsibility and to try local animal control. We they say its not theirs either and to go pay an expensive pest control company. Well my daughter is on disability from a car accident and can’t afford to call them. We live in Michigan and can’tfind any info about landlord / tenant responsibility regarding this matter! Any help would greatly be appreciated!!!!

    • Stephen White

      Tracy, I hate to be the bearer of bad news… but this is not the landlords responsibility.

      If your daughter moved in and a few days later found out that raccoons were living in between the walls or something, that would be different. But in this case, the pest problem is outside the home, and not effecting the habitability of the dwelling. Furthermore, the home was “pest free” at the time she moved in, so there is always the chance that she may be the cause of the problem. Leaving garbage out, food, etc. Not assuming this is the case, just pointing out that landlords are responsible for control before possession is turned over to the tenant. Beyond that, it would be the tenant’s responsibility.

      I’m kind of surprised that animal control didn’t offer any help. Maybe if the raccoon was suspected of having rabies (wink, wink) they would have to respond. Just a thought 😉

      • tracy beaudrie

        Thank you Stephen for your response! I have told that if they are out and about during day then the possibility of them having rabies is a serious problem. They run all over deck in backyard puppy and baby are now housebound! So sad! Neighbors have stated these raccoons has been a problem even before her moving in.

  16. spek

    I have a problem with silverfish. Especially in the bathroom. While single and not the most spotless of guys, I keep the place relatively clean and use a cleaning service twice a month. As far as I have read, silverfish are attracted to moisture, not food. Even though they don’t carry disease, they are a pest and I want them gone. Is the landlord responsible for pests that are not health issues?

  17. Stephen White

    First off, I HATE silverfish! So I feel your pain brother.

    Here is my advice, contact your landlord and say this – I keep the place clean and use a cleaning service twice a month. I keep finding silverfish and I read that they’re attracted to moisture. Can you send someone out to see if maybe there is a moisture issue in the house somewhere?

    That shifts the pest issue a little into a potential maintenance issue, which may be the underlying cause. At the end of the day you may be responsible for the cost of exterminating, depending on the pest policy in the lease and the cause. But having the problem’s root cause addressed first ensures at the very least you’re not having an exterminator come out every month because the problem has never been fixed.

    If it is a maintenance issue, I would say the landlord should pay. Otherwise you’ll likely be footing the bill as it’ll be seen that the moisture in the bathroom (caused by you living there) is attracting the pests.

  18. john

    In the state of nevada, can the landlord put in the lease that they are not responsible for any ant problems? we previously had ant problems in the kitchen, living room, on the driveway and they were even in our mailbox at one point; and we keep the place clean so i called our landlord and they said its not their responsibility but they’ll take care of it this time. I was wondering if its legal if they can state in the lease that it is not their responsibility to take care of bug problems because the landlord is a bit shady. (our lease will soon be up and we have to renew soon) thanks for your help i appreciate it!

  19. Stephen White

    Landlords are responsible when the rental unit is in their possession, prior to you moving in. Once you’re living there, you can be the cause of the pest problem so most landlords will not cover the cost of pest control.

    If the landlord is offering to cover the costs, I’d say that’s a good sign he’s concerned about the property. Which is a good thing. Just read through some of these comments to see what other tenants are dealing with from landlords who do NOT want to cover the costs and you’ll see that you’re in the minority.

  20. Andricus Olo Jackson

    I called my landlord and told him about the spider problem and he didn’t do anything about it. So if I would hold back my rent would I be wrong since he didn’t spray anything for spiders and roaches?

  21. jay mcdermott

    in the state of California, is there a penalty for refusing to sign a new lease due to bugs? i rent a room in a house with a bunch of random strangers and there are bugs such as mites, gnats, roaches, bed bugs, spiders, ants, i think even termites, and flies. i have been living here for a month already and i haven’t signed a lease, the manager of the house has neglected to bing it to me to sign. i know i can legally withhold my rent but can i also refuse to sign the lease? besides i don’t plan on living here past this month.

  22. Stephen White

    The last thing you want to do is hold back rent. This puts you in violation of the lease agreement and should not be the first step towards resolution.

    I would recommend written notification of your request, along with written notice that you will deduct the pest control expenses from your rent. Save every receipt if you end up doing this and obviously be sure to have good communication.

  23. Stephen White

    Jay it sounds like you’re better off getting out of there. I would NOT sign a lease if I were you!

  24. Rachael Borter

    Just moved in house in indiana. 2 weeks in noticed my cat acting weird lost a bunch of weight and now has fleas. My cat is an indoor cat and always has been. There is no way that he has been the problem of our flea infestation. I believe the fleas were here already and my landlord disagrees! We are at the beginning of month 2 and I don’t want to be here anymore! My vets flea meds are not working on my cat and neither is anything I’ve bought from the store for the carpeting! What in the world do we do!!!???

  25. Stephen White

    Rachael, fleas can be a nightmare. And extremely hard to get rid of. So I feel for you.

    But, a flea infestation can also be caused by a multitude of things. And it’s not always something that originates in the home. I’ve seen cases where it was uncleaned gutters that causes infestations and others where the fleas were brought in from people who carried them on their person.

    I would attack the problem at the source and have an exterminator come in. It will do 2 things for you – get rid of the problem and identify potential sources of the problem.

    If the potential source is something the landlord is responsible for – like uncleaned gutters, then it’s obvious who should foot the bill for the exterminator.

  26. Melissa Odom

    We rent a 4story split level house with the option to buy. There have been several issues arise in the 6 months we have lived here. We have to keep bedroom doors closed and use small heaters when it was cold. The landlord said we just didnt know how to work the thermostat. Thank goodness it was the end of winter, but then summer came. No air. We had to put window units in this nice brick home until she arranged a service call. We had been here for about 5 months at that time (July). Landlord bought a new ac unit. Worked for a day or so and then the pipes literally froze up. It’s been over a month. Still, no air. Roof has leaked here and there. She had it patched. Basement flooded. We cleaned it and I built a dam. No more flooding. My main argument is pest control. It’s summer. Yard fleas are taking over, not to mention spiders, and worms. Yes, I said worms. The basement has brown worms. She refuses to call an exterminator. We are paying $1175.00 a month to live in a hot, worm and flea infested house. We are clean people. Do lots of yard work. We take care of this property. Inside and outside. What do we do now?

  27. Thomas Han

    Our tenant wrote an email this past sat morning saying they found rat droppings and was calling an exterminator. And by early afternoon the same day they sent over the bill from the exterminator. #1 we didn’t agree to the exterminator and they didnt wait for a response,we have a normal exterminator we could have used(they are much cheaper). #2 we use T.A.R lease agreement and it specificly says the tenant is responsible for exterminator. What do we have to do? Thank you in advance.

  28. Megan McGrath

    Been living in my apartment for 8 months now and after a few months I noticed a few stripped bug skins, so I thought nothing of it. I am now beginning to wake up with black beetles in my hair twice now and once crawling on me I have lumps and itching a good bit aswell…I have seen 10 in total in the past few days and since we first moved in its gotten a whole lot worse. I lifted the lino in the kitchen and found hundreds of stripped skins like I did the first few months. I’m going to ring my landlord to get a pest control but I’ve had problems with him before so not sure if I should with hold my rent until the problem is solved. If you could give me advice that would be great.

  29. quesha smith

    Hi my names Quesha and just randomly found this site and thought I’d seek help. We moved into a single family home in Florida on the first of this month so right at about 13 days ago. When we first moved in we noticed a big problem with roaches and contacted the landlord who stated he’d have it checked out and sprayed, needless to say we still encounter this issue daily but much less since we have been doing pest spraying ourselves. But now here’s the kicker, about a week ago I informed our landlord of some holes in the wall that needed to be plugged up. I placed tape on the holes and he had a guy plug up 2 of the 4 holes. Since then I have heard scratching noises in the walls and finally tonight my fiancé saw a RAT in the closet. We trapped the rat and started to check for more throughout the house and found another in a hall coat closet. I’m terrified because this is my first encounter with real live rats and roaches in a home I live in. Needless to say I was furious and contacted my landlord at the sight of the second rat(which we discovered at about 1 AM) and he was very rude stating I have no business calling him this late at night, he stated that he is coming in the morning to check and hung up in my face. I honestly didn’t expect an answer from him but definitely planned on leaving a very detailed message but now I’m even more furious because I was told proper pest control was handled and that this home not only was bug free but pest of any kind free!. I have only lived in this home for about 13 days, can I call a legit pest control company of my choice and make this guy pay for it? Or will I have to let him use his obviously unqualified, lazy,no good handy man continue to do it.. I am a mother of a 4 yr old and will be delivering baby #2 in less than 7 weeks I need help asap! Thanks.

  30. Stephen White

    Melissa, it sounds like you need to make a decision on what you’re going to do.

    If you’re ready to purchase a house with so many issues, then you have to be ready to address those issues head on. If there’s too many issues and you’re seeing this as a warning to NOT buy the house, then you need to get out.

    It sounds like a few of the issues are normal things any homeowner would run into. Brick houses are notorious for bugs, especially spiders. Lawn fleas are a regional problem and drive lots of people crazy this time of year. Roof leaks and AC maintenance, again typical issues homeowners deal with.

    If you purchased this property outright you’d have some options with inspections to ensure the condition before you closed on the house. But in a rent to own, you’re stuck in this limbo of dealing with a landlord, but knowing ultimately this will be your home.

    I’d take a moment to reconsider your decision to buy. If the landlord could sell the house for what she wanted she’d put it on the market and sell it. But she might be avoiding doing that because of known problems that would hold up a sale.

  31. Stephen White

    Thomas, my knee-jerk reaction is to explain to the tenants that they are responsible for the exterminator bill, since they agreed in their lease.

    But I would consider the full scope of the situation here. Are they long-term tenants? If so, I’d be much more inclined to work with them and maybe give them a pass on this incident.

    Either way, it’s worth taking the time to explain what your concerns are. Explain that you have preferred service people to work on the property and that they have to wait for a response before making these type of decisions. You deserve at least 24 hours to respond. But to be sure there’s no confusion or misunderstanding, I would obviously highlight that in a written notice.

    Final thoughts – if they’re long term tenants, footing the bill might be worth keeping the peace and keeping them happy. If not, point out the lease and explain your position in written form for the future.

  32. Stephen White

    Quesha, it sounds like your apartment is not in live-able condition. I assume the rent is pretty low considering there were holes in the walls when you agreed to rent there. So this is a case of, you get what you pay for.

    On the legal side of things, of course the landlord is responsible for the exterminating considering this is not a problem you caused. And if you paid for exterminating, you could make a case to have the landlord pay for it.

    But the real question is – is it really worth it? Is it worth fighting with a rude landlord? Or risking paying out of pocket and him refusing to pay you back? Or even worse, the problem continues after multiple attempts to get rid of the pests. Which happens ALL the time since there is no guarantee the problem can be easily controlled.

    I don’t think this apartment was ready for rent. You should be able to break the lease on grounds that the living environment is not habitable. Especially considering you have a child!

    My advice, get out of there now while you have a case to break the lease.

    • quesha smith

      Unfortunately the rent is $700 a month so not much on the low side for this area in Florida as to which I live. Also the holes were covered up by the landlord when I came by to see this home which at the time I also saw no bugs,or any other pest, all of these were made known to me after I moved into the home. I totally agree that this home was not ready for move in and I appreciate the quick response. I am packing up and leaving.

  33. Stephen White

    Megan, holding the rent always backfires on a tenant because you’re in violation of the lease agreement. And even though the landlord is likely in violation as well if the problem is not addressed, it doesn’t provide you the right to break the lease. At least not yet.

    The right thing to do is issue written requests to address the problem. This will create the documentation you’ll need to prove you’ve done everything right. If the issue is not addressed in 30 days, I would issue another written request and make mention that rent will be withheld and proper authorities notified of the neglect to address these known issues that are making your living space uninhabitable.

  34. Sybille

    Please Help.
    I moved into my apartment in Rhode Island a few months ago. A little while after moving in I began noticing signs of mice (droppings on the stove and counters). I actually saw one for the first time a couple of weeks ago and notified my landlord right away. That same day his property manager came to set traps. After a few days of not catching anything I contacted him to let him know that the traps were not working, to which he never responded. A couple days after that I saw a mouse again and attempted to reach out to him once more. He finally returned my text and told me he would call and schedule pest control the following week. I told him that I’d be out of town for the next few days, but to please make the apartment available to the exterminators. The day before I was scheduled to returned I texted him asking if pest control had been to the apartment and, of course, I got no response. After arriving home the next day, I failed to see a note or notice stating that pest control had come so I called and texted my landlord to ask him about the situation. I received a text from him the next morning saying he scheduled a company to come that coming Saturday, a whole 6 days after he said he would. That afternoon the property manager returns to re-set the traps and tells me the landlord wanted to try them one more time (even though he had texted me that morning about exterminators coming the next day). A couple hours after the traps are set a mouse is caught, I contacted the manger (just like he instructed me too) and he tells me to wait until morning. I am appalled because I have a dead mouse in my kitchen and I’m sitting in the next room listening to mice play with the traps and not getting caught. Do I have a right to break the lease or at least withhold rent? Any input would be appreciated. Thanks

  35. Stephen White

    Sybille, I’ll start with – you do not have a right to withhold rent at this point.

    Your landlord may be slow on the response time, but he is still addressing your concerns. In theory, he could cancel the exterminator and continue to set traps as a reasonable effort to control the problem.

    Be patient and keep holding the landlord accountable.

  36. Andrea Strond

    i ve been in my apartment for 4 months and i have a bad roach infestations, the roaches were here before i moved in, in fact i couldnt even move in on my exact move in date because the apartment was not ready on there behalf. i spoke with the landlord and she has been scheduling pest control about every 3 week since i moved in june 3rd the roaches are getting to the point where they are now in my refridgerator, wat can i do ??

  37. Stephen White

    Andrea, this sounds like a nightmare!

    I would say that since the infestation was a problem before you moved in, it’s certainly not your problem. Therefore, I would set a date for the issue to be resolved with the landlord. And if it’s not resolved by that date, you would be allowed to break the lease and find a suitable living environment.

  38. Joseph

    We rent a nicer and newer single family home in Alabama. Despite a thorough rental agreement, the section pertaining to pest control simply states that it is included with the property. We have a local company that visits our property regularly and for the most part, are satisfied that we do not see bugs in the house. We have had a few instances of dealing with rodents though and this despite the utmost care in keeping both the inside and outside of the house clean. Lately, we have been dealing with some kind of rodents outside the house that has been disturbing the yard by burrowing on the edges of the house, the fence and near the shed. Would dealing with the rodents fall under the responsibility of he landlord since the contract places pest control under their care? So far, both the landlords and property management have expected me to purchase traps and poison to deal with the problem myself. So far, I have had limited success and damage to the lawn/yard continues (though property management mentioned I wouldn’t be liable for that damage).

    Thanks in advance for any advice.

  39. Bajingo Pie

    I have realized that I’ve signed on with a slumlord. We have a field behind our home and our backyard was full of giant cockroaches and black widows and ants our first spring here. I asked the landlord to take care of it and she said common pests are my responsibility per the terms of our lease. But, I’m reading now, they’re actually the landlord’s responsibility. I don’t see how they can’t know that, being a property management company, and I don’t see how they can believe that their lease trumps CA state law. I’ve been paying pest control for two years. I’d point that out to them, with invoices, and deduct the amount from my rent but my lease also specifically says we can’t deduct anything from the rent, ever.

  40. Stephen White

    Joseph, rodents definitely fall under “pest control” and I would expect them to address any many issues. Because the problem is not inside the house at this point perhaps they are taking a more relaxed approach with you setting traps.

    I would get clarification in the event of major damage, like you mentioned. Ask specifically what would happen in the case that the problem went from outside to inside. Who would be responsible?

  41. Stephen White

    Bajingo, even if the lease didn’t mention deducting rent, I would advise against it. It never works in the tenant’s favor because you are breaking the lease in most cases.

    As for who is responsible for the pests, I would ask the PM if they are not taking action because the pests are not in the home. This is an area that creates confusion and needs to be clarified by them.

    Remember to be a good communicator! Even if you’re dealing with a slumlord, takes notes, document everything and be polite and respectful. That will always go much further than angry threats. Hopefully they’ll respond positively to you.

  42. Tamara Levin

    hi my name is Tamara and I have lived in my apartment for almost a year now when I very first moved in I found a bed bug in a closet. Then after that my kids started getting eaten alive in their bedroom I contacted my landlord and he came and closed off my kids room for four days and did some kind of hest treatment so we did not see them for a while. I stated to my landlord that bed bugs are almost impossible to get rid of and that he would have to do the whole house he said bed bugs dont travel like that so it would be taken care of by doin the one room now my downstairs neighbor is telling me about how shes infested with them and that the lady that lived here before me had them as well my landlord said if I was not happy with how he was handleing it then I could move but the state is paying my rent right now and in order for me to continue with the assitance I have to reside at this resident im just wondering is he responsible for thewhole building to be exterminated or not?

  43. Stephen White

    A good compromise I’ve seen in the past is to cover the difference yourself to get the better service. Ultimately it’s up to them to choose since it’s their responsibility to pay.

  44. Stephen White

    Rebecca, a landlord in this situation may put the responsibility on the tenant considering it wasn’t a known problem that occurred prior to the tenants living there. At least I assume.

    Furthermore, tenants could be doing things to attract the animals, such as leaving garbage out. And if the tenants own their own trailers, I can see the landlord being even less inclined to cover these types of costs.

  45. Stephen White

    Danielle, always pay the rent first and foremost!
    Remember that by not paying it you are in violation of the lease. This will shift the focus of the real problem, an unresolved pest infestation.

    My best advice for protecting yourself from losing your security deposit is to be sure you have the entire scenario documented. And take pictures or other proof if possible. Document every conversation and event so that you have a timeline to prove that the infestation was not your fault.

  46. Stephen White

    Yikes, I don’t blame you for feeling like your privacy is being violated Lexi.
    The only way I can see this being justified is if there was a major infestation and they’re being very thorough to ensure it hasn’t returned. Otherwise, that sounds really excessive.

  47. Stephen White

    Get on that management company and tell them that after the spraying stopped the bugs are back in full force!

  48. Stephen White

    You are always in the wrong to deduct money from rent without agreement from the landlord or a higher authority. The moment you don’t pay the full rent amount, you are in violation of the lease. So don’t start there.

    Playing Devil’s Advocate here.. the roach problem is in the house next door. Should he have told you about it, maybe. But certainly not required by any laws. He could have had the traps set as a precaution.

    Now on the other hand, if he is a bad landlord and did know that the roaches were a problem there, your only recourse is to get out of the lease and move.

  49. Stephen White

    You can document the cost of the extermination and deduct that from the security deposit. Be sure to use a SODA form to identify what is being deducted.

    Any time you’re dealing with a security deposit you want to be sure your documentation is in good order. So take pictures, keep receipts and a log of anything that happens to repair the unit.

    Be careful of your time frame to return the security deposit. If you wait until after the 2nd extermination visit (30 days later) you may be past the time to return the security deposit (depending on your state rules). My advice would be to get the cost from the extermination company upfront and add that to the total cost.

  50. Stephen White

    I’d say to keep in mind that it often takes more than one treatment to control an infestation.

    I would also advise that you (preferably with the extermination company) inspect the property for potential causes of the problem. If it’s something out of the tenant’s control, like a damp basement or something, then it’ll be you footing the bills to fix the problem.

    However, if the infestation is due to the tenant’s living habits or negligence, then they should be responsible for the services and treated the same as damage repairs.

  51. Stephen White

    True NB.. but even in those cases where rent can be deducted, it’s not something that the tenant can just decide and withhold at will.

    So the certain criteria you mention always includes a process of notices and acknowledgments.

  52. Stephen White

    I think it’s perfectly reasonable. Just be sure that they are in agreement and understand that typically extermination costs are covered by the tenant if it’s not caused by a defect in the property.

  53. Stephen White

    Ericka, you’ve got to move on. Talk to the landlord and explain that you’re not happy with the terms and you never agreed to them. Find some middle ground and get out of the lease immediately. You could take a legal route, but good communication will be quicker and easier.

  54. Stephen White

    Depends on the lease and how it’s written in. But with bedbug being such a problem, I’d tell the landlord immediately and explain that you can’t afford the extermination at the moment. If it’s your responsibility hopefully they’d pay to get the extermination and let you pay it back or something. Just DON’T let it go until it becomes a HUGE problem.

  55. Stephen White

    Ah the joys of renting to hoarders and messy people, I feel your pain John.

    The quick answer is , yes, they would be in violation of their lease if they are responsible for pest control. Keep good documentation of the notices you gave and timelines. If you have to hire the exterminator yourself you can charge them the cost. If they don’t pay, you can add the charges to damages at the end of the lease (or eviction, whichever comes first) and deduct from the security deposit.

  56. Stephen White

    Heather, you are correct, there is a requirement to provide notice when entering the property. A lot of this is going to depend on the letter of the lease. If it states that you have access to the shed and garage, then he is in the wrong for sure. If it says nothing, then he’s letting you use the space as a favor and I’d stop using it because you have no protection.

    With regard to the pest problem, again it depends on the lease. Typically wasps are not a sign of neglect or cleanliness like other infestations. And most landlords want to address the issue because it’s something that might require more than just a spraying. Wasps tend to get in behind siding and between material that can cause damage.

    Check your lease and ask the landlord for some clarity. You’d be best off having a meeting with him and getting things out in the open.

  57. Kanika Chowdary

    Hello! Around 8-9 months ago, we told our landlady that we see some cockraoches in the kitchen. We are clean people and always take out our trash on time. Anyway, we were glad that she took care of it and signed an agreement with pest control who came and sprayed it once. She never consulted us about whom she is hiring and how much is she paying them. She told us that that shey is paying them. Anyway, after one or 2 spray mx, we didnt see a single cockroach and told her the same. Still, she insisted them on coming over to our place 2 more times to spray the pesticide. We didnt say anything as we understood that she is paying for it. Now, she is deducting all of that money (setup fee and fee for 4 times spray) from our security deposit – which is around 450 usd. Can she do that? She never consulted with us or told us initially that she would be charging us. What can we do?

    • Stephen White

      Does you original lease agreement mention pest control? If it does, your answer will likely be found there. If it doesn’t then you can try to argue that the landlord said she’d cover the costs, but without having anything in writing it would very difficult for you.

  58. Stephen White

    If a neighboring unit has pests you’d likely want your place sprayed, so I can understand certain circumstances where you’d get sprayed without an infestation.

    However, if your lease doesn’t specify the policy on this, I’d think you can NOT be legally held responsible. I would have a conversation with the landlord and ask them to review your lease with you so can understand how you are responsible.

  59. Stephen White

    First and foremost you need to understand what a nightmare bedbugs are. The only way to control them is to take immediate action, so it’s not shocking that a minimum notice was given. Ultimately they want to protect the property from further damage.

    Second, you should be responsible for the cost considering the beg bugs were not a previous problem in the unit. In other words, you created the problem. Most leases, assuming yours as well, are written so that tenants are responsible for the pests brought into the unit.

    Lastly, I think it’s pretty generous that they’re letting you pay in installments.

  60. Stephen White

    If this was an issue when you moved in, and the landlord acknowledged it by having the exterminator out.. and the exterminator (the expert) recommends another visit… and the problem continues.. I’d say this is your landlord’s responsibility, not yours.

    Check with your local municipality to see if they have any specific ordinances or laws concerning tenancy living conditions and infestations. Unfortunately if the landlord is not willing to move forward with the extermination process, you’ll have to fight to get it done.

  61. Stephen White

    Well Cheryl, I didn’t think I responded with attitude. I was giving a thoughtful response based on your details. Which didn’t include anything about infestations in the other units.

    But based on your response, I’d guess that you’re not the type of person to accept responsibility easily. Fact of the matter is, the extermination is to protect you, the other tenants and the property. You were given proper notice and I can’t think of a single good reason that you shouldn’t have the apartment sprayed.

  62. Stephen White

    Michelle, you’re not going to want to hear this, but I think your landlord is probably right.

    I don’t have all the facts, but based on your statement, that the landlord was only REQUIRED to spray once, I’m guessing there is some language in your lease that covers this. And if it does, then you would be responsible for subsequent treatments.

    With regard to withholding rent, or deducting rent, NEVER do this unless you’ve followed all of the proper steps. The biggest mistake tenants make is doing this and then realizing that you’re breaking the lease. In which case you can be evicted or charge additionally.

  63. Stephen White

    If you’re concerned with cost, I would continue doing what you’re doing. Spraying yourself can be just as effective as long as you’re consistent.

    And it seems the landlords are pretty responsive, so again just be open and honest with them without being a pain in the neck. It sounds like you have this under control already.

  64. Stephen White

    If the bugs were there when you moved in, ask to be moved to another unit if possible. Or ask to break the lease since the unit is infested.

  65. Stephen White

    You do still have to give 30 days notice. To take the “uninhabitable” approach you’d have to gather all kinds of documentation and proof that would likely take 30 days anyway.

    If the PM is not responsive, I’d call them out on that and explain that you’d rather move out than waste your time and energy dealing with a health department or housing department complaint. They should just let you out of the lease.

  66. Stephen White

    Good luck Michelle and let me know how it goes.

  67. Stephen White

    Absolutely Reshonda. Since the infestation was a problem before you even moved in, it’s the landlord’s responsibility. They should try to accommodate you by either moving you so they can address the problem in the unit, or let you out of the lease.

  68. Stephen White

    You can request to break the lease immediately and find a new place. Or deal with the pests for the next month and hope everything works out. This is a tough call.


      If I request to get out of the lease will I get my deposit back?

      • Stephen White

        Possibly not. Depends on the lease and the landlord

  69. Stephen White

    Sounds like you’re dealing with a slumlord. I’d let him know you’re going to the Justice Center

  70. Chelsea

    I live in a single family shotgun home in the Portland area of Louisville. We have had a bed bug problem since we moved in back in June. Our landlady is a slumlord. We have asked her several times if she could call an exterminator and she keeps refusing because they had sprayed the house once before we moved in. And when we asked if she could at least pay 50 bucks for store bought chemicals, she brought her husband into the matter who tried to get all up in my father-in-law’s face. My father-in-law is 65 yrs old and was a former landlord himself so he knows what landlords are supposed to do. Eventually the landlady paid for the chemicals, but after a family friend did our house, the bed bugs returned the same day. We did everything we needed to do. We were told by our elderly neighbor that when her daughter lived here, they had bed bugs as well. And another thing, our lease isn’t even legal binding. There are no signatures on it from the landlady or us. It doesn’t say anything at all about maintenance or pests. Plus it says that only Paul (our roommate) and 2 others live here. I was pregnant when we moved in, so it should have added the baby on as well. So we technicallly have one more tenant than what we should have. My son is 2 months now and he is getting bitten by these bugs. I’m getting bitten worse out of me and my husband. I’m not sure on what to do, including since our lease isn’t legal binding.

  71. Stephen White

    Well it’s unfortunate but it’s the only way to fix the problem where you live. Nobody else would able to do it, so that leaves you.

    Of course nobody wants to deal with these types of things but they happen. Like a wise Reverend once said – It’s like that, and that’s the way it is.

  72. Stephen White

    The landlord can take the steps to forcibly enter the apartment eventually if you refuse.

    Just let them in, it’s for your own benefit.

  73. Stephen White

    It won’t hurt to ask to be moved. Or at the very least have the place treated for the infestation.

  74. Stephen White

    John, the landlord can force the spraying eventually. That’s the fast answer.

    In my opinion, I’m with you in that I hate the idea of using chemicals. But in a multi unit situation, you’re treating the problem properly by spraying everything. Otherwise you’re leaving the possibility of not controlling the problem and entering a vicious cycle of continuous spraying that would be worse for you in the long-run.

    My advice is to talk with the extermination company. Maybe they can put your mind at ease by explaining the treatment. Otherwise you’ll be better off leaving if you’re absolutely against it since you’re on a month to month.

  75. Stephen White

    Jeriline, I wouldn’t think you’re responsible for this. Unless your lease specifically says you’ll pay for pest control no matter what. But in this case, it’s clear the problem is being caused by the tenants being careless with their garbage. I would make them pay for it and explain that these are PREVENTABLE infestations.

    • jeriline

      Thanks- I was pretty sure that was the answer. By the way the electric trap has been busy they are using dog food for bait- haven’t heard anymore.

  76. Stephen White

    A few thoughts on your situation pconley..

    Unfortunately pest infestations (especially roaches and fleas) can be very difficult to eradicate. To promise the problem would be resolved in a month seems irresponsible considering it often takes multiple treatments. And it would make no sense whatsoever for the landlord to keep the population low versus eliminating the problem.

    So the issue I have with all this is the lack of disclosure with regard to the pests. If this was an ongoing problem, as you indicated, the landlord should have at the very least given you a heads up. At this point you have no option other than seeing it through and following the extermination plan. If you put up enough of a fight you could probably talk your way out of the lease, but given you’re in Ohio, hopefully the cold months will help to speed up the extermination and you can stay.

  77. Stephen White

    Bombing your place will not work if the problem is a messy neighbor. You have to attack the problem at it’s source.

    You can keep fighting to have the landlord treat the problem, or leave. If it means breaking a lease, explain that it’s for the health of you and your family.

  78. BusinessmanJerry

    It’s pretty unreasonable to expect a problem like mice to just go away quickly. It IS a process where you have to trap/kill them. They breed very quickly and grow up fast so it can take a while to get them all. If the tenant is messy it may be nearly impossible because the tenant is essentially providing a breeding ground. A mouse can fit into an opening that’s less than 1/2 inch in size. And they can climb. That makes it very hard to keep them out of a house if they are in the area. If it’s an older property it is probably impossible to keep them out. All you can do is keep killing them once they get in.

  79. Stephen White

    LOL I agree Jerry. I’d be worried if there were zero bugs outside my house!

  80. Jessica Turner

    I recently signed a lease for a new apartment. Upon doing my walk before actually moving my things in I noticed fleas on my socks. I told the property manager and she was astonished as she assured me that the previous tenant didn’t have any pets. They promptly treated the area with spray with the growth inhibiting factor that inhibits the flea life cycle. Then the actual pest control company came and sprayed God know what else. Whole place smelled like chemicals after that. Then they told me it was safe to move in. I moved in. Still found fleas. I know that this problem isn’t a quick overnight fix but what are my rights as a tenant?? I shouldn’t have to deal with this problem. Now all of my things are in here an I know consider them more or less contaminated. What can I do?? I’m disgusted but it’s not like I have anywhere else to go or can pay to move again. Ugh! HELP!!

  81. Pamela

    I live in Westfield Indiana in a mobile home park, we are renting with the option to buy after two years we have been here 1yr and 2 mths. I just discovered we have bed bugs. Who is responsible for paying to get rid of them

  82. Stephen White

    That’s all you can really do, unfortunately. Pests are called “pests” for a reason. They’re hard to get rid of and it’s annoying!

  83. Norma E. Salazar

    Make a long story short, never had an apt before nd signed a lease without reading it, on the hood of a car due to panic of possibly becoming homeless then waited with faith for a copy the next day. That was the last week of September. Now it’s days away from February nd I still don’t have a copy of the lease I signed. Moved in anyway, because I have a child to house but come to find out there is an infestation of cockroaches, bedbugs nd woodlice. Contacted maintenance, realtor nd landlord in regards to bugs.. only thing that happened is an exterminator came twice so far for the cockroaches, but of course this whole building still has them. From hearsay of another tenant in my building, their lease says that the landlord is not responsible for bedbugs or damage from bedbugs. Is that even legal? Who rents apartments that have bugs thinking the tenants will be okay with it anyway? Cockroaches carry diseases, bedbugs bite humans nd pets nd it is severely uncomfortable, woodlice are just gross looking. The point is.. what do I do about this problem? All of my belongings are potentially getting ruined no matter how much I put traps, powders or use sprays to control the issue. My child has been bit a few times already nd I am going broke trying to curb this problem nd going to be short on rent because of it. I live in Illinois. Does anyone have any advice?

  84. Micheal

    It is matter of health and safety so I believe both needs to work together to get rid of pests for the good of the society and their environment.

    • Stephen White

      That’s the most logical thing I’ve heard all day Michael. Well said.

  85. Cortney V

    I have had roaches since I moved into my apartment 5 mos ago. The landlord was responsive in the beginning and then it slowed. Now they are saying that they can bomb my unit but I cannot be home and have to find arrangements. I live in pa. Who is responsible for covering my arrangement fees and also is it in my right to withhold rent or get out of my lease due to this continuous pest problem. Its definitely not a sanitary situation.

  86. Stephen White

    What does your lease say about pest control? And the very least I would continue to communicate with the landlord as you both work to control the problem. They’re called “pests” for good reason, they’re not easy to eradicate.

  87. Stephen White

    Ultimately, pests come from other places. That’s their nature as pests. But I understand the nexus between the pests in your situation and the question of who should pay for any pest control. I would say until it gets to a point where it’s affecting habitability, and every effort has been made, it’s still your responsibility as per your lease agreement.

  88. Stephen White

    Is the landlord upset because he feels the damage was ignored and the responsibilities (as per the lease) were neglected? If so, and he’s correct, then there would be a lease violation and reason to evict. A judge would decide if the eviction is reasonable or not.

  89. Stephen White

    Make your requests in writing and track everything. How many times you asked, dates and times someone came out to spray etc. Let your landlord know you’re tracking like this too. It sounds like he/she needs to be held accountable so maybe this will do the trick.

  90. Stephen White

    It’s not that it’s illegal to ask you to pay.. you just don’t have to legally. Since you were under no agreement with the landlord, and the pest problem could be attributed to anything, the landlord would have a nearly impossible time trying to hold you responsible, and convincing a judge of the same. Shame on the landlord for not entering into some sort of lease agreement with you that could have mentioned a pet policy.

  91. Stephen White

    What would be the desired outcome of the legal action? Money? What were the damages done to you, and can you prove them? In most cases it’s not worth your time and money to bring legal action. Just reporting them to the different authorities you mention is enough to ruin their day trust me.

  92. Stephen White

    When reason fails you need to take a stronger stance. Ask your local municipality how to deal with this issue and if it warrants a complaint to be filed with Fair Housing.

  93. Stephen White

    Yikes! This sounds awful. The best thing you can do is document EVERYTHING. Take pictures of the snake and any other pests. Take notes of every call you’ve made to the landlord and pest people, or anything relating for that matter. I would have the other guy you contacted come in and give an estimate. Present the estimate to the landlord and ask that the problem be addressed. Explain that you’re at a loss for how else to handle this other than filing a formal complaint.

  94. How To Share A House In NYC - Roomi Blog

    […] aromas. Pest control is expensive, and it is often a landlord’s responsibility to handle it. But not always. It’s easier to show that a tenant attracted the bugs in a house than in an apartment building. […]

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