Pest Control, Who's responsible the landlord or the tenant?

21 Replies

If you have a single family home rented out for a year lease, ideally who is responsible for extermination for waterbugs the tenat or the landlord?

It should say in your lease.

My rental agreement says that the landlord does extermination between tenants and turns the unit over pest-free. After move-in, the tenant is responsible for pest control.

(I exclude termites and powder post beetles, but the lease doesn't actually say so).

The law might vary from state to state, so you need a state specific answer.

Water bugs are like cockroaches, aren't they? Combat gel should kill them. It's cheap and easy.

I know this is an old post but, thanks for posting because it was a question that I had.

I had pest control come in before the contractors started work on my rental. The pest control company asked if I wanted to go under contract (paid quarterly), and include the cost in the rent. I told them not at the present time.

I like the idea of pest control between tenants, but will look at my State law to see how it should be handled.

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It's fairly inexpensive to send a local exterminated over. My guy charges $36 for ants, reaches, rodents or whatever other pests my tenants have attracted. I pay for it. I don't offer it up, so most deal with it themselves. However, there are those tenants who are helpless fools and I look at it as one more opportunity to make them think I walk on water. I kind of think of it as a marketing expense.

I just looked at our Landlord Tenant Handbook, and it states that pest control is not necessarily a maintenance responsibility for the landlord. The lease should specify whether or not pest control will be provided by the landlord. It may become a landlord issue when housing or health codes require it because the property’s conditions violate health and safety codes.

As you mentioned Brian, when I purchase a multi-unit I will likely go under contract with a pest control company because, in this type of dwelling there will be more people in the building with different characters (some clean, some not so), but in a single family home (since I’m not required to) I think the tenant being the only family there, and having more control over the presence or not of pest being in the home should handle it, unless of course we’re talking about termites.

I’m all for pre-move in pest control.

Ryan, is that $36.00 a visit or are you on a quarterly contract? Either way, you're right that's not bad. The company I've used charged $75.00 a visit.

Originally posted by P NW:
It should say in your lease.

My rental agreement says that the landlord does extermination between tenants and turns the unit over pest-free. After move-in, the tenant is responsible for pest control.

Mine says the same thing. I go over the lease with the tenant prior to move in and have them sign each page, and make sure they understand this item.

I have a property where the house next door (these are rowhouses) was vacant and the grass in the yard was over 3 feet tall. Mice started invading my property, so I paid for the exterminator a few times over several months and that took care of the problem. It wasn't the tenant's fault.

As others have done, I usually exterminate the rowhouse properties between tenants, because although my tenants have been generally clean, the neighbors are not always the same way.

Aly, your case is a good example of when I would pay for pest control outside of move-in for a tenant in a single family home, as a matter of fact it may be an example of when I might be required by local ordinances to pay.

Also, I read your profile. I'm proud of you for your success with short sales. I tried a couple, I don't have the patience.

Sometimes bugs just show up. Sometimes they show up for a reason. I don't offer pest control in my rental agreements. However, if ants start showing up (very common around here) I will have the property sprayed. If **** roaches start showing up, I will inspect the property to see why they have suddenly decided to move in. Like a rolling stone gathers no moss, a clean house (typically) gathers no bugs. I know there are exceptions, and those exceptions I will gladly pay for.

I was thinking about this question the other day.I did some research and came across this article with some helpful information.

Hope it helps! [LINK REMOVED]

If you deliver a pest free home at time of lease contract, other than termites, it should stay that way; however, ants are common so most landlords will agree to pay for such treatments. "Water bugs" as they were called in the OG post are likely American or Oriental cockroaches, of which, do not infest indoors. So if they are found indoors, they have come in from the exterior but will not infest, mate, or lay eggs inside. Those disgusting creatures are the German cockroaches which are common in dirty kitchens/bathrooms (anywhere indoors where moisture and a food source is available) and most common in apartments. For an SFR, I would make sure my lease held the tenants responsible for such an infestation. For ants/rodents, I would assume responsibility. Rodents can only get inside if the home is not sealed from all parts of the exterior (or through an open door left unattended and usually at dusk (rodents are nocturnal creatures).

For apartment buildings, it is part of the owners cost of doing business as tenants will not pay for cockroach infestations and it would be difficult to prove which unit was the cause of the starting infestation at times.

So do you think having the termite company give a hand out on how to keep bugs down in each unit to tenants would be helpful.

Kind of like a helpful tips sheet??

We are going to be doing inspections once a month on cleanliness and other items with the property and changing filters.

Joel, that is a very good item to implement, in fact, most pest control companies have these types of sheets already made up and give them to customers, you should be able to access them from reputable companies

Here's my take:

Cockroaches - we don't see them often in the north, but if I did, Boric acid takes care of it. Since I've never had a cockroach in my units, it would be the tenant responsiblity, but to avoid a health department complaint, I'd probably treat and charge back to the tenant.

Mice - we get lots of them, I pay for it. Unless they are white, in which case it was an unauthorized pet. :-)

Ants - I treat regularly with exterior traps and sprays when necessary.

Fleas - I allow pets, so a flea infestation is caused solely by the tenant. I've had two of them (infestations), and in both cases, the tenant disclaimed responsibility. Since I hadn't addressed it in the lease, I paid and advised the tenant that future infestations were on their nickel.

This post has reminded me that I never addressed it, so I just wrote up an addendum to have any tenant with a pet sign at the time. Thanks for the reminder!

I just rented out my townhouse for the first time ever, to a very nice couple with a baby.  She recently sent me a request to have the place exterminated because she noticed a lot of spiders.  We live in colorado, where it is common to have spiders.  But i just moved out a couple of weeks ago and in the 4 years i lived there - there was never an unreasonable amount of spiders.  Beyond that, i have never heard of anyone exterminating spiders!  Based on the thread up to this point, I would also include there is nothing in my lease stating i would cover pest control.  So what should I do?  I don't want to give her a hard time and I don't mind making an inexpensive concession, but this has come after she complained that the cleaning and carpet shampoo was not good enough.  One week into the lease, i'm wondering how to protect myself from this renter constantly asking for unreasonable and endless requests.  Please help!

@Sarah Present you posted in an old thread and haven't gotten any traction. You might want to start a new thread. At any rate. You are kind of in a tough spot since your lease is silent. It's always challenging when the new tenant start nitpicking your property after they get in the door. At the same time I understand that some folks are wigged out by spiders. With any problems, I start with trying to understand what they are looking for. Something like, "sounds like you don't like the spiders how would you like that addressed?" If it's a one time extermination, then I would be inclined to offer that. If it's an ongoing treatment that hits you up every month, then not so much. 

In situations where the tenant complains a number of times and I don't think they have a strong case, I have what is known as a "happy clause" it goes something like this. "Sounds like you are not happy here as there are too many "issues" with the property and I am definitely not happy with all the complaining so here is what I propose. You find another place and move out by the end of the month. I will have security deposit check in hand, do the walk through when you hand me the keys, and I will hand you the check. You have until 5 pm tomorrow to accept this offer in writing (email works)." Have them immediately sign a termination agreement if they take you up on the offer. Most don't move and this usually shuts them up and sends the message to stop the back and forth.

I realize it's a bit of a risk but trust me if they take you up on it, it's the most pain free way of moving forward. 

@Sarah Present , I don't know much about babies but if I were a parent, I would be concerned about pesticides around the child...that might be something to bring up to your tenant.  I wouldn't want the tenant to come back and blame you for problems the child might develop from the application of pesticides.

In my own home here in Denver, I've bought the little electronic devices that are supposed to repel mice and spiders (I have dogs...and I'm nervous about pesticides mostly because I had a dog a few years ago eat a poisoned mouse and it eventually killed my dog).  It could be an alternative.  I've found that they don't repel mice as well as advertised, though it has reduced the spider population (I've only seen two inside the house this year).

Another alternative is to encourage the tenant to clean with a peppermint based soap.  Peppermint is known to deter insects.  Dr. Bonner's Castile Peppermint soap works great on just about everything.

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