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Who’s really responsible for pest control in a rental property?

Photo: Such a Beauty by Jocelyn Kinghorn

When a pest infestation occurs at a property, both the landlord and tenant are likely to be eager to fix the problem. To learn where the responsibility of pest eradication lies, different circumstances will need to be evaluated.

Property owner responsibility

Controlling pests is often the responsibility of a property owner. As a landlord you should be checking for any signs of infestation between tenancies and dealing with them before a new tenant moves in. During the initial property inspection with your new tenant, look for any signs of pests including mice, rats, or insects, and address any concerns that the new tenant has about damage to the house, such as holes in external walls or flooring, which could allow pests to get into the property.

Pest problems mid-tenancy

If an infestation occurs after a tenancy has begun, and neither the landlord or the tenant has done anything to cause it, responsibility for its eradication is uncertain. The tenant should alert the landlord as soon as a pest problem is noticed, and if neither party is at fault, the result is often the landlord and tenant splitting the costs of eradication.

Experts recommend that property owners take responsibility for fumigation if necessary, although issues around cleanliness and tidiness can cause responsibility to fall on the tenant.

Tenant responsibility

If the pest problem is caused by tenant cleanliness issues or other breaches of the tenant obligations, the landlord can take the tenant to Tribunal to seek the costs of the fumigation.

Annual fumigation

Some landlords include an annual fumigation at their own cost as part of the terms of the tenancy agreement. If there are no cleanliness issues on the tenants end, they should contact the landlord to see if they will arrange for the fumigation and payment of the pest eradication.

Avoiding pest infestations

Cleanliness is one key element for avoiding a pest infestation. Keep your home clean and tidy, and in the case of mice and rats, make sure there are no food sources or places to nest.

Different seasons also demand different levels of cleanliness. Spring and summer is more likely to bring insect problems, while winter is a more common time for rat or mice infestations to occur.

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