Tenants moving out due to roaches

26 Replies

My tenants called today informing me they are breaking their lease and moving out.  They moved in around February of this year.  I had the rental professional sprayed before move in.  A 3 or so weeks after they told me roaches were there.  I called pest control immediately.  They sprayed. They said they woild need a follow up in two weeks. My tenant went into premature labor and was gone for a month. I wasn't able to do the follow up, i even askerthe husband tenant while she was in the hospital if we could spray before the baby got home. He said he wouldn't have time.   They get home and of course the roaches are back.  I called and the pest control came yesterday.  They had been staying at a family's place while it was getting taken care of.  They haven't even been back to the rental since it was sprayed when they called me today. I told them I understood and they demanded their rent of June back and deposit. I told them I could not give deposit back bevause I've noticed a lot of things I'll need to replace last time I was in there.  Am i doing the right thing by giving them all of this month's rent back and no deposit? I don't understand because I tried to rectify the problem as much as possible by being on top of it and calling as soon as I knew.  Thoughts on the whole situation? I feel horrible about the roaches.

Updated almost 3 years ago

The reason the husband said he didn't have time is because the company I go through makes each tenant do a prework sheet of clean up and emptying cabinets and my company made it clear they will not spray until the worksheet is completed each time.

It seems as though you did what you could/should have done. The only thing I would’ve done differently is told them you were allowing the pest company in to complete the job. Them saying they “didn’t have time” doesn’t make sense. They don’t need to be there. You should’ve given them the proper notice that you were entering and then followed through.

I prefer to do month to month leases, so I would have told them to give me proper notice (30 days before the rent is due, per lease and CO law) and they could leave with no problem.  But if they choose to break a longer lease or don't get proper notice, I'm not going to give them a break.  With this happening yesterday my response would be "No, I will not give you June rent back.  Further, July rent is due on July 1.  And you're breaking the lease and my fee for doing that is equal to the deposit.  You'll be getting a bill for any damages."  And if I did not get July rent they would get a pay or quit on July 5.

Its very likely the roach problem is, at least in part, being caused by them.  Messiness attracts roaches.  I grew up in MO, on the other side of Lake of the Ozarks from you.  My mom was (and is) meticulous and we never had a roach problem.  Unless these something nearby that's generating roaches, its probably your tenants lack of cleanliness that's attracting them.  I would suspect they just don't like the place and this is an excuse for leaving.

Originally posted by @Chris Szepessy :

It seems as though you did what you could/should have done. The only thing I would’ve done differently is told them you were allowing the pest company in to complete the job. Them saying they “didn’t have time” doesn’t make sense. They don’t need to be there. You should’ve given them the proper notice that you were entering and then followed through.

 Agreed with the above. Its even questionable if they deserve June rent, but I think you are erring on the side of caution, and you already told them they can have it. now for deposit, I wouldn't specifically say yes or no. Evalute the home and deduct any damages. The rest gets returned.

Now, the question of did you handle this properly and should they be allowed to break the lease...that's an entirely different discussion.

@Paige Roberts I would modify your lease to prevent this in the future. My lease says I will retreat within the first 30 days of move in if bugs are found. After that it is their responsibility. if they are not keeping their house clean and food put up it will attract bugs and that is out of your control.

If they are breaking their lease then they are not entitled to rent already paid or their deposit back. In fact they are responsible for the duration of their lease or until you have it re-rented.

Originally posted by @Chris Szepessy :

It seems as though you did what you could/should have done. The only thing I would’ve done differently is told them you were allowing the pest company in to complete the job. Them saying they “didn’t have time” doesn’t make sense. They don’t need to be there. You should’ve given them the proper notice that you were entering and then followed through.

 The pest company told me they will.not spray unless the tenant empty all dressers, throws all clothes on bed, empty cabinets with food,  take almost everything off the floor, plus they kept their dog there while she was in hospital. But pest control gave worksheets to each tenant they had to complete before they would spray.  They won't until worksheet is done each time.  

I agree with @Jon Holdman . Roaches, unless they were there when you moved the tenants in, are the tenants responsibility and probably their fault. Pest control also should have been able to come in without needing the tenant home, you can meet them and let them in since it was an agreed upon repair. it's also June 27, although I didn't see when you posted this, so no I would not give them the months rent back. As for the sec deposit, follow MO rules, which allow for you to deduct unpaid rent from the deposit. Just follow the law, no reason to refund money that they agreed to pay when they signed the lease.
Originally posted by @John Underwood :

@Paige Roberts I would modify your lease to prevent this in the future. My lease says I will retreat within the first 30 days of move in if bugs are found. After that it is their responsibility. if they are not keeping their house clean and food put up it will attract bugs and that is out of your control.

If they are breaking their lease then they are not entitled to rent already paid or their deposit back. In fact they are responsible for the duration of their lease or until you have it re-rented.

 They claim the roaches were there already.  Even though I had it professionally done before they moved in.  I told them I would prorate their June month on the days they weren't there.   I've been there all last month fixing tile in the bathroom and did not see one so i dont think it's a horrible infestation.  I just got it professionally done the other day.  

Originally posted by @Donald S. :
I agree with @Jon Holdman . Roaches, unless they were there when you moved the tenants in, are the tenants responsibility and probably their fault. Pest control also should have been able to come in without needing the tenant home, you can meet them and let them in since it was an agreed upon repair. it's also June 27, although I didn't see when you posted this, so no I would not give them the months rent back. As for the sec deposit, follow MO rules, which allow for you to deduct unpaid rent from the deposit. Just follow the law, no reason to refund money that they agreed to pay when they signed the lease.

 The company I go through will not come in and spray unless the pre worksheet is complete.  Like pulling clothes out dressers and putting clothes all on bed, covering dishes, cleaning out cabinets completely.   There's quite a bit of work for my company to do before they will even spray and they made they very clear to me several times they won't unless the worksheet is complete before the spray. 

Originally posted by @Andrew B. :
Originally posted by @Chris Szepessy:

It seems as though you did what you could/should have done. The only thing I would’ve done differently is told them you were allowing the pest company in to complete the job. Them saying they “didn’t have time” doesn’t make sense. They don’t need to be there. You should’ve given them the proper notice that you were entering and then followed through.

 Agreed with the above. Its even questionable if they deserve June rent, but I think you are erring on the side of caution, and you already told them they can have it. now for deposit, I wouldn't specifically say yes or no. Evalute the home and deduct any damages. The rest gets returned.

Now, the question of did you handle this properly and should they be allowed to break the lease...that's an entirely different discussion.

 Chris Szepessy so did i not handle the situation properly?

Originally posted by @Paige Roberts :
Originally posted by @Jon Holdman:

They brought them with them when they moved in.

 How can i prove that though? 

 I think you can document you did everything within reason - i.e. you had it professionally treated prior to move in, you had it professionally treated again when they complained of a problem, and you attempted to follow up professional treatment but tenant would not cooperate. 

I would definitely not refund June, and would treat security deposit as normal (use for actual damages).  I don't think I would pursue beyond that, but arguably that is being generous as they are breaking the lease.

Originally posted by @Paige Roberts :
Originally posted by @Jon Holdman:

They brought them with them when they moved in.

 How can i prove that though? 

 You can't.  You said you treated for them immediately before they moved in.  Roaches can hide in lots of stuff.  If the had roaches where they lived before, there will be roaches and especially roach eggs in their belongings.

Is there some source near this house?  Such as a rubbish pile or some such?  Did you have a roach problem in this property before these folks moved in?  When you've been in there, is it neat and tidy?  Or are there dishes in the sink and crumbs on the counter?  Food in the bedrooms and living room?  It doesn't take much to become a roach attractor.

But all of this is a moot point.  They're breaking the lease.  You've been diligent about addressing the problem they brought up.  Even with a long-term lease, I would consider letting a tenant out, without fees, provided they gave proper notice.  When they start demanding rent be returned I get less cooperative.

If you have a landlord/tenant attorney, it might be worth a chat about the situation so you understand your rights and obligations.

Originally posted by @Jon Holdman :
Originally posted by @Paige Roberts:
Originally posted by @Jon Holdman:

They brought them with them when they moved in.

 How can i prove that though? 

 You can't.  You said you treated for them immediately before they moved in.  Roaches can hide in lots of stuff.  If the had roaches where they lived before, there will be roaches and especially roach eggs in their belongings.

Is there some source near this house?  Such as a rubbish pile or some such?  Did you have a roach problem in this property before these folks moved in?  When you've been in there, is it neat and tidy?  Or are there dishes in the sink and crumbs on the counter?  Food in the bedrooms and living room?  It doesn't take much to become a roach attractor.

But all of this is a moot point.  They're breaking the lease.  You've been diligent about addressing the problem they brought up.  Even with a long-term lease, I would consider letting a tenant out, without fees, provided they gave proper notice.  When they start demanding rent be returned I get less cooperative.

If you have a landlord/tenant attorney, it might be worth a chat about the situation so you understand your rights and obligations.

Would you return the month of June if they had no beem stayin there for.most of it but left their dog their to let out? It's not a horrible infestation and when it got sprayed last yesterday the pest control told me.they should be taken care of but wanted to make sure so we scheduled a follow up for next week. I told them that and they didn't want to even go back.  The female tenant seems to be dramatic about everything and very picky but the house was not kept clean at all.  They didn't even care to pick up when I was there all last month putting in New tiles for them.  I am a bit of a push over I suppose. Just too nice and want people to be happy with the place. 

I agree with all the replies, the tenant most likely caused or made the problem worse. I believe you made the right choice by giving them back atleast something so they wouldn't feel too bad. when it comes to newly mothers having premature labor, they can tie it to the chemicals from the pest control, unless you are using eco friendly 100% natural product, either way it can fall back on you. You did the right thing.

No, I think you handled it just fine. I didn’t realize there was a worksheet of stuff for the tenant to do before the pest company would come in. Also, I would’ve just pro rated June rent for the days they couldn’t be there, not refunded the whole amount. I understand where you’re coming from on being a “pushover.” Sometimes it seems easiest to just let it go and move on, but at times you need to be firm. I would let them leave and deduct any damages from the deposit. They don’t seem like tenants you’d want anyway.

Originally posted by @Paige Roberts :

Would you return the month of June ...

No bloody way.

The female tenant seems to be dramatic about everything and very picky but the house was not kept clean at all.

And there you go.

@Paige Roberts is this a single family home? You mentioned tenants in plural so I was just wondering if it was a multifamily property. Multifamily is different because one tenant can bring in roaches and it will spread to others. Generally in single family, they are brought in by the tenant. Used furniture or used clothing are two ways they travel in. Low income tenants will find a couch for free on the curb and bring it into a property or get second hand clothes that has not been cleaned. Food source is the worst problem. Dirty tenants attract cockroaches. You have to bring garbage out daily to the trash. You need to mop floors, wipe down counters, etc. I would focus on the fact tenants are usually responsible for their own cockroach problem. Cockroaches don't randomly walk down the street looking for a clean house to invade. I educate tenants when they move in about cockroaches and bed bugs. My lease prohibits bringing used furniture into a property and requires tenants to pay for their own pest control. The only exception is issues that occur within 30 days of move in, but after 30 days, the tenant owns the problem. (That is single family homes. You can't do that in multifamily because neighboring tenants could be the source of the problem.)

As far as the female being dramatic - I am guessing you have never had a baby. Going into premature labor is very scary, so the last thing they are thinking about is a checklist for the exterminator. What responsible parent would bring a premature baby into a cockroach infested home.? To you it is just a few cockroaches, but personally I would never have my baby in a home with ANY cockroaches. I am just trying to give some perspective.

If they didn't bring the cockroaches in, they are well within their rights to demand action,. Ultimately it is hard to prove and you did take the appropriate actions. I would only reimburse for days they had to leave the property due to treatment and I would never return deposit until after they are out and you can deduct cleaning or damages.

@Paige Roberts If you sprayed before they got there and have everything documented, it's possible they could have brought in the infestation. Sounds like you've already done a lot to help out the situation. If you've got everything documented, it's hard to argue. Put everything in writing. If they don't pay, take it to court and start the eviction process. Good luck!! 

I’ve never seen a check list from an exterminator being this extreme. Personally, I wouldn’t want to be told to remove clothing from drawers and cover dishes for him to spray.  This environment sounds toxic for a baby!

As for the tenant being dramatic and not picking up, I’d like to point out that pregnancy is exhausting and pregnancy with complications is overwhelming beyond belief. Not only is there physical wear and tear on the body, there is a lot of emotional stress also. Please be gentle when speaking to or about women with complicated pregnancies. 

The fact that you had it professionally sprayed before the tenants moved in makes me question whether there was an issue before you leased the property. Roaches are notoriously difficult to control, and while this one sounds very thorough, I don’t know that I would use them when I had tenants in place. I would absolutely make scheduled pest control mandatory. I have a company visit every quarter, but I pay for it so that I can choose the company and receive reports about any issues. 

Originally posted by @Joe Splitrock :

@Paige Roberts is this a single family home? You mentioned tenants in plural so I was just wondering if it was a multifamily property. Multifamily is different because one tenant can bring in roaches and it will spread to others. Generally in single family, they are brought in by the tenant. Used furniture or used clothing are two ways they travel in. Low income tenants will find a couch for free on the curb and bring it into a property or get second hand clothes that has not been cleaned. Food source is the worst problem. Dirty tenants attract cockroaches. You have to bring garbage out daily to the trash. You need to mop floors, wipe down counters, etc. I would focus on the fact tenants are usually responsible for their own cockroach problem. Cockroaches don't randomly walk down the street looking for a clean house to invade. I educate tenants when they move in about cockroaches and bed bugs. My lease prohibits bringing used furniture into a property and requires tenants to pay for their own pest control. The only exception is issues that occur within 30 days of move in, but after 30 days, the tenant owns the problem. (That is single family homes. You can't do that in multifamily because neighboring tenants could be the source of the problem.)

As far as the female being dramatic - I am guessing you have never had a baby. Going into premature labor is very scary, so the last thing they are thinking about is a checklist for the exterminator. What responsible parent would bring a premature baby into a cockroach infested home.? To you it is just a few cockroaches, but personally I would never have my baby in a home with ANY cockroaches. I am just trying to give some perspective.

If they didn't bring the cockroaches in, they are well within their rights to demand action,. Ultimately it is hard to prove and you did take the appropriate actions. I would only reimburse for days they had to leave the property due to treatment and I would never return deposit until after they are out and you can deduct cleaning or damages.

 It's a single family home. Obviously you did not read my entire post or you would have seen the part about me trying multiple times to get it sprayed before baby came home.  They had a month to spray before but like i said my pest company won't spray until worksheet is finished every time. Maybe read before passing judgement.   also i do have a son that was born premature as well so your guess is horribly wrong. On top of that i did it completely on my own. I also run three businesses so i believe that's an excuse to be rude even if everyone is different.  I had no SO to help and the picking was way before roach problem.  

Originally posted by @Paige Roberts :
Originally posted by @Joe Splitrock:

@Paige Roberts is this a single family home? You mentioned tenants in plural so I was just wondering if it was a multifamily property. Multifamily is different because one tenant can bring in roaches and it will spread to others. Generally in single family, they are brought in by the tenant. Used furniture or used clothing are two ways they travel in. Low income tenants will find a couch for free on the curb and bring it into a property or get second hand clothes that has not been cleaned. Food source is the worst problem. Dirty tenants attract cockroaches. You have to bring garbage out daily to the trash. You need to mop floors, wipe down counters, etc. I would focus on the fact tenants are usually responsible for their own cockroach problem. Cockroaches don't randomly walk down the street looking for a clean house to invade. I educate tenants when they move in about cockroaches and bed bugs. My lease prohibits bringing used furniture into a property and requires tenants to pay for their own pest control. The only exception is issues that occur within 30 days of move in, but after 30 days, the tenant owns the problem. (That is single family homes. You can't do that in multifamily because neighboring tenants could be the source of the problem.)

As far as the female being dramatic - I am guessing you have never had a baby. Going into premature labor is very scary, so the last thing they are thinking about is a checklist for the exterminator. What responsible parent would bring a premature baby into a cockroach infested home.? To you it is just a few cockroaches, but personally I would never have my baby in a home with ANY cockroaches. I am just trying to give some perspective.

If they didn't bring the cockroaches in, they are well within their rights to demand action,. Ultimately it is hard to prove and you did take the appropriate actions. I would only reimburse for days they had to leave the property due to treatment and I would never return deposit until after they are out and you can deduct cleaning or damages.

 It's a single family home.  Also i do have a son that was born premature as well so your guess is horribly wrong. On top of that i did it completely on my own. I also run three businesses so i believe that's an excuse to be rude even if everyone is different.  I had no SO to help and the picking was way before roach problem.  

 My apologies, I shouldn't make assumptions. I misunderstood and thought she was pregnant when they moved in. I was just thinking that  stress and hormones can alter the way people would normally act. 

Ultimately given it is a single family home and they were there 5 months before the cockroaches showed up, they are at fault. The leading cause of cockroaches and even things like ants is unsanitary conditions. They need a food source. Donated clothing and furniture is often the way they travel in. I wouldn't give the tenant anything. You acted responsively to deal with the problem, so you did nothing wrong. Good luck and sorry again for the assumption, that was unfair of me.

Originally posted by @Joe Splitrock :
Originally posted by @Paige Roberts:
Originally posted by @Joe Splitrock:

@Paige Roberts is this a single family home? You mentioned tenants in plural so I was just wondering if it was a multifamily property. Multifamily is different because one tenant can bring in roaches and it will spread to others. Generally in single family, they are brought in by the tenant. Used furniture or used clothing are two ways they travel in. Low income tenants will find a couch for free on the curb and bring it into a property or get second hand clothes that has not been cleaned. Food source is the worst problem. Dirty tenants attract cockroaches. You have to bring garbage out daily to the trash. You need to mop floors, wipe down counters, etc. I would focus on the fact tenants are usually responsible for their own cockroach problem. Cockroaches don't randomly walk down the street looking for a clean house to invade. I educate tenants when they move in about cockroaches and bed bugs. My lease prohibits bringing used furniture into a property and requires tenants to pay for their own pest control. The only exception is issues that occur within 30 days of move in, but after 30 days, the tenant owns the problem. (That is single family homes. You can't do that in multifamily because neighboring tenants could be the source of the problem.)

As far as the female being dramatic - I am guessing you have never had a baby. Going into premature labor is very scary, so the last thing they are thinking about is a checklist for the exterminator. What responsible parent would bring a premature baby into a cockroach infested home.? To you it is just a few cockroaches, but personally I would never have my baby in a home with ANY cockroaches. I am just trying to give some perspective.

If they didn't bring the cockroaches in, they are well within their rights to demand action,. Ultimately it is hard to prove and you did take the appropriate actions. I would only reimburse for days they had to leave the property due to treatment and I would never return deposit until after they are out and you can deduct cleaning or damages.

 It's a single family home.  Also i do have a son that was born premature as well so your guess is horribly wrong. On top of that i did it completely on my own. I also run three businesses so i believe that's an excuse to be rude even if everyone is different.  I had no SO to help and the picking was way before roach problem.  

 My apologies, I shouldn't make assumptions. I misunderstood and thought she was pregnant when they moved in. I was just thinking that  stress and hormones can alter the way people would normally act. 

Ultimately given it is a single family home and they were there 5 months before the cockroaches showed up, they are at fault. The leading cause of cockroaches and even things like ants is unsanitary conditions. They need a food source. Donated clothing and furniture is often the way they travel in. I wouldn't give the tenant anything. You acted responsively to deal with the problem, so you did nothing wrong. Good luck and sorry again for the assumption, that was unfair of me.

 I appreciate that and the great advice. 

Thanks. 

Originally posted by @Paige Roberts :
Originally posted by @Jon Holdman:
Originally posted by @Paige Roberts:
Originally posted by @Jon Holdman:

They brought them with them when they moved in.

 How can i prove that though? 

 You can't.  You said you treated for them immediately before they moved in.  Roaches can hide in lots of stuff.  If the had roaches where they lived before, there will be roaches and especially roach eggs in their belongings.

Is there some source near this house?  Such as a rubbish pile or some such?  Did you have a roach problem in this property before these folks moved in?  When you've been in there, is it neat and tidy?  Or are there dishes in the sink and crumbs on the counter?  Food in the bedrooms and living room?  It doesn't take much to become a roach attractor.

But all of this is a moot point.  They're breaking the lease.  You've been diligent about addressing the problem they brought up.  Even with a long-term lease, I would consider letting a tenant out, without fees, provided they gave proper notice.  When they start demanding rent be returned I get less cooperative.

If you have a landlord/tenant attorney, it might be worth a chat about the situation so you understand your rights and obligations.

Would you return the month of June if they had no beem stayin there for.most of it but left their dog their to let out? It's not a horrible infestation and when it got sprayed last yesterday the pest control told me.they should be taken care of but wanted to make sure so we scheduled a follow up for next week. I told them that and they didn't want to even go back.  The female tenant seems to be dramatic about everything and very picky but the house was not kept clean at all.  They didn't even care to pick up when I was there all last month putting in New tiles for them.  I am a bit of a push over I suppose. Just too nice and want people to be happy with the place. 

 No, I wouldnt return a thing.  They are breaking a lease.  You have treated for bugs, as others have said, they probably brought the bugs with them.

Furthermore, I would hold them responsible until I had a new tenant and charge them rent for the vacancy time.