No one likes pests. They hasten the process of decay, impact the health of humans and animals, transmit diseases, destroy the property, and much more. What’s worse, is that hiring an exterminator doesn’t come cheap. It will cost you anywhere between $108 to $260 for a single visit.
Dealing with pests is a pestering problem on its own. It becomes even more bothersome when people start pointing fingers. Many landlords claim that tenants brought the pests with them when they moved into the rental property. On the other hand, tenants believe that the pests were already in the home before they arrived and that the landlord should be accountable for the infestation.
To avoid squabbles between landlords and tenants, it’s important to figure out who is responsible for pest control and what they can do about it.
What are the common types of pests in rental properties?
“Pest control” covers a variety of infestations. When people think of pests, most of them would imagine cockroaches, rodents, and fleas, but it includes a lot more critters and creepy crawlies, such as:
- Bed bugs
Who is responsible for pest control on a rental property?
Generally, pest control is within the landlord’s liability. Most residential lease agreements include an “implied warranty of habitability”. This essentially requires landlords to provide their tenants with a property that meets certain conditions, making it free from health hazards and other dangers.
In Florida, the implied warranty of habitability is controlled by the state’s Residential Landlord-Tenant Act. Under the law, landlords must comply with building codes, health codes, housing codes, and so on. If there are no specific codes, property owners must still comply with basic maintenance, such as fixing up floors, doors, roofs, exterior walls, and other structural components.
If a landlord fails to address serious problems and no longer meets the criteria specified by the Residential Landlord-Tenant Act, the tenant can legally withhold their rent until the issues are fixed. In cases where the property is deemed uninhabitable, the tenant may terminate their lease and move out. It’s best to consult with a Florida property management company to identify your exact responsibilities as a landlord.
What are the responsibilities of a landlord when it comes to pest control?
Landlords should provide their tenants with livable dwellings. Since pests can cause a property to become unlivable or uninhabitable, pest control falls under the duties of a property owner.
In general, pest control means the use of pesticides inside and around the property to eliminate pests. Ideally, pest control should be done once every quarter or every two to three months. While the home must be free of pests when the tenant moves in, pest control should be done periodically to maintain consistent levels of habitability.
The landlord’s responsibilities concerning pest control include:
- Inspecting the property before the tenant moves in to ensure that the rental home is free from pests.
- Addressing structural issues that may leave the property vulnerable to pest infestation, such as gaps in the doors, torn window screens, cracks in the walls, and other issues that may provide pests with access into the home.
- Arranging periodic pest control. Ideally, this should be done quarterly or every two to three months.
- Dealing with pest-related complaints from the tenant as quickly as possible. It can be helpful to have a list of reputable local exterminators who can complete the job in a timely and professional manner. A professional property management firm should have a network of vendors that they can recommend.
Can a tenant be responsible for pest control?
If the pest infestation occurred due to natural causes, it is the property owner’s responsibility to eliminate the pests. However, if the pest infestation was a result of the tenant’s negligence, then the tenant should shoulder the cost.
So, how can you tell if the tenant caused the pest invasion? Common telltale signs include:
- Refusing to conduct basic property upkeep, such as failing to cover garbage bins, not disposing garbage properly, and leaving rotten food in the pantry.
- Performing activities that lead to excessive moisture within the home, such as leaving puddles of water in the basement.
- Damaging the structure of the property, thus creating openings in the wall or floor that invite pests into the home.
- Failing to report property damage, especially cracks and openings, to the landlord or the property manager. If the tenant fails to report such issues promptly, he/she may become partly responsible for the pest invasion.
- Owning a pet that is infested with fleas.
Who is responsible for bed bugs?
Bed bugs are tiny insects that take refuge within beds and feed on the blood of humans and animals. Bed bugs are commonly found in single-family homes, apartments, and condominiums. In fact, in 2011, one out of five Americans were victims of a bed bug infestation in their home.
Because bed bugs are such a problem, it is important to take action immediately. Although minuscule, bed bugs can trigger serious health issues such as hives, rashes, and sometimes, even anaphylaxis.
If the home was free from bed bugs when the tenant moved in, the tenant likely brought the bed bugs with them. Bed bugs can attach to ordinary household items such as beddings, clothing, and furniture. If the tenant failed to treat their items before moving, they should bear the cost of pest extermination.
However, if the property has had a history of bed bug infestation, then the landlord must deal with the issue promptly. Failure to act immediately may result in legal problems.
As you can see, pest control is usually the property owner’s responsibility. This, however, does not mean that the tenant is always in the clear. Tenants must continue to maintain the property by ensuring that it meets minimum standards of sanitation. Unless the tenant clearly acted with negligence, it is the landlord who is responsible for pest extermination.
At Luxury Property Care, we conduct thorough inspections of the property to avoid disputes in the future. Through proper documentation, we safe-keep information that can help landlords settle matters should there be a tenant-related conflict. Contact us today at (561) 944 – 2992 or fill out the contact form to learn more.