Large fee from my PM on a wasp nest removal

30 Replies

Greetings, I started to hijack another thread before I realized this is my own issue. My PM in Denver recently had a significant charge on my statement for a wasp nest removal ($200). Ok, The amount is high, but things like this are so it's not my main concern.  

The thing is wasps are quite common in Denver and when leasing the property I specifically elected not to pay for any sort of regular Pest control for insects and bugs, such as Orkin, etc. 

On the lease it states as follows: "Lessee is expected to maintain and care for the property, which includes, but is not limited to the following: Pest control including but not limited to mice, ants, small rodents, etc."

When I asked for clarification from my PM they said this clause only protects against something the tenant can control, which makes no sense to me since many pests aren’t preventable, they just happen.  Should I press this with them? Clearly, my tenant could have spent $5 or less on a spray or trap - I wouldn’t even mind reimbursing that purchase, but I didn’t cause the wasps any more than the tenant did. Curious if I’m in the wrong here or not. 

This is an interesting post and I can see both sides of the story. I do not include pest control at my rental currently, but I think if there was a bee/wasp/hornet nest I might be inclined to remove it for the tenant (or pay to have it removed). With people being potentially allergic to stings it seems like this could be a much more serious issue for you legally if something happened.

If they saw a couple cockroaches or spiders I’d advise them to keep the place clean and get some bug spray from Home Depot. That’s already been established on the lease, but stinging insects may require action from you.

That’s my two cents...

@chad C Bees and Wasps are considered dangerous by some city codes, if your PM works by the book they simply called on a licensed exterminator. So making long story short they simply covered their *** legally and there is nothing you can really do if your city code prevents you from removing dangerous pests by yourself. 

I appreciate the responses, I’m still relatively new to rentals.  I had considered the liability issue as well, but hadn’t considered city ordinance. I just wasn’t sure if this scenario fell under one guideline or another or if anyone in the Denver area knows of specific rules. Thank you both! 

@chad c ... Just check with the city.... But i wouldn't worry if its a one time deal. Now if you begin to feel like your PM develops a pattern.... Then start looking for a new PM even before you talk to them.. usually when a PM decides to "care less for their clients" its a downhill from there.

Can anyone chime into what they think a normal cost for this should be? I think normal pest control is like 99, but depending on size and location I’m not sure this qualifies as normal.

Typically a simple service call is 60-80, so I’m wondering what this would cost. Maybe 100?

I think receiving an invoice is perfectly reasonable.
I am not sure about Denver, but in Boston that price does not seem too unreasonable to me.
Also, I may be speculating, but to me, rodents are more preventable than wasps. Being cleanlier than your neighbor generally does the trick with rodents if there is not already a problem in place.
If it is a one time thing I would not worry too much about it, but seeing that invoice may help you sleep easier.

Originally posted by @Caleb Heimsoth :

Can anyone chime into what they think a normal cost for this should be? I think normal pest control is like 99, but depending on size and location I’m not sure this qualifies as normal.

Typically a simple service call is 60-80, so I’m wondering what this would cost. Maybe 100?

 $200 does seem a tad excessive.  Then again, it's Denver.  But still ...

Hey Chad -- I am a property manager in Denver.  What I work with my tenants and owners is a system where if there are bugs or infestations within their first 30 days of occupancy, owner will pay for that. Since my security deposit has not been paid out the outgoing tenants yet, I evaluate if this is something they caused.  Then I bill the previous tenant if it is something they caused and credit the owner.  

Wasps are not typically caused by the tenant.  My first approach is to just tell the tenant to buy a wasp spray and spray it (if small), I would credit the rent that amount with an invoice (and bill to owner out of the reserve account). 

I see a lot of ants in the properties in Denver and it is pretty seasonal.  I have hired exterminators for that averaging about $125.  I know it is more expensive than the Home Depot option of traps, but that guy takes care of it and they are not back for a year or two+.  I think that is worth it because monthly complaints from tenants that want to move out because of a recurring pest problem will cost you way more than $200.

Pest control including but not limited to mice, ants, small rodents, etc

would typically be based on cleanliness of the living spaces... and aren't likely to injure someone. 

Wasps on the other hand.... 

You need to call housing authority asking about codes.

Majority of tenants will stay. But they expect protection, rodents (roaches, spiders, mice) by their landlords even if they are the ones brought them in. As a goodwill gesture you can order an exterminator package to calm them down.  Just about every city here have codes to protect tenants and once get cornered landlord need to compensate tenants with monthly rent waiver, or facing a housing code violation at court. Tenants move out for the same reason.

A property manager is there to oversee the safety of the building. I do not expect them to take down a nest by charging you $5.00.  


Scenario 1: a nest under a gutter that's home to 10-20 paper wasps, a variety that is not very aggressive and can easily be taken care of with a can of spray. 

Scenario 2: a bald faced hornet nest located 20 feet off the ground in a tree that's home to 600 to 1000 extremely aggressive wasps who will sting anyone getting close

Which did you have? 200 bucks for the removal of #2 is not out of line. 

I am not familiar with the CO code, but I believe this is on the landlord.

In Colorado, the Colorado Revised Statutes (CRS) include a definition of habitability and legal remedies for tenants living in units that do not meet the definition of habitability. Habitability is the condition of a unit in which tenants can live free of serious defects that might harm health and safety.

In most states you cannot contract yourself out of a dangerous condition or negligence -- wasps are dangerous along with other pests and vermin.

Rather than charging the tenants, I would suggest teaching them methods of prevention. You can of course explain that reducing your expenses helps to keep their costs lower.

$200 seems pretty reasonable. I personally would pay somebody that amount to get rid of bees or wasps. If you aren't happy with the PM spending $200, change your arrangement and have them require approvals from you for expenses over $50, $100 or whatever you want. In my opinion, when you use a PM you can't really complain too much if they didn't get 5 quotes to save you %10 or 15%. They want the problem fixed, the tenant to be happy and you to be happy / still paying them.

Here is the CO of warrant of habitability -- https://www.colorado.gov/pacific/sites/default/fil...

It may boil down to the conventions of your area. To me it is not just tenant caused pests that are the tenant responsibility that your clause covers, it what is normal area and is it reasonable for the tenant to adress it. Ants, starting a wasp nest at the back door etc. I have had tenants watch nests being built above thier door and not take out a can of spray. One group of idiots watched birds build a nest over thier front door... If the nest is large or high you need to pay for removal and the charge is probably appropriate. In any case I would get the tenants some prevention information, those things will come back. And of course the PM says you should pay they always will. Another way to save on this is to choose your own pest control company. I had a very expensive Racoon teach me that a PMs company is not necessarily the best option.

I don't know where the wasps were living if it was in a tree or on the house.

I had a yellow jacket nest in my back yard last year and the guy had to come out in a bunny suit . it was underground and bigger than a basket ball when he dug it out.. I got stung my dog got stung.. and its just a little hole in the ground in the shrubs so hard to detect until we saw them ingressing and egressing.. a professional had to take care of it.. don't know what it cost  ..  I have thought seen some nasty forest fires started by laymen trying to burn wasp nests from their eves.

Keep in mind this is not a value issue. A self managing landlord would obviously buy the spray, as I have many times, for $5 and be done with it. When you have a PM every issue is dealt with through hiring a professional. Professionals cost what they cost. If you use a PM you are expected to pay what ever it costs. PM verses self manage, $5 verses $200. This is simply a business decission. 

Wasps are not something I would normally leave to a tenant if they call but by the same token the vast majority of my tenants are mature enough to simply get rid of wasps the same way I do. I usually never receive that call.

Originally posted by @Chad C. :

Greetings, I started to hijack another thread before I realized this is my own issue. My PM in Denver recently had a significant charge on my statement for a wasp nest removal ($200). Ok, The amount is high, but things like this are so it's not my main concern.  

The thing is wasps are quite common in Denver and when leasing the property I specifically elected not to pay for any sort of regular Pest control for insects and bugs, such as Orkin, etc. 

On the lease it states as follows: "Lessee is expected to maintain and care for the property, which includes, but is not limited to the following: Pest control including but not limited to mice, ants, small rodents, etc."

When I asked for clarification from my PM they said this clause only protects against something the tenant can control, which makes no sense to me since many pests aren’t preventable, they just happen.  Should I press this with them? Clearly, my tenant could have spent $5 or less on a spray or trap - I wouldn’t even mind reimbursing that purchase, but I didn’t cause the wasps any more than the tenant did. Curious if I’m in the wrong here or not. 

This is why you don't hire PM's. They have ZERO vested interest in doing the right thing, protecting your property, or being cost effective. Why would I expect a person in a profession that doesn't even require a HS Diploma to be diligent? All they usually care about is dealing with the hassle as quickly as possible to minimize their involvement. And in this case they charged you $200 for what a can of Wasp Spray and a broom would have done...

Originally posted by @Jim Shonts :

Hey Chad -- I am a property manager in Denver.  What I work with my tenants and owners is a system where if there are bugs or infestations within their first 30 days of occupancy, owner will pay for that. Since my security deposit has not been paid out the outgoing tenants yet, I evaluate if this is something they caused.  Then I bill the previous tenant if it is something they caused and credit the owner.  

Wasps are not typically caused by the tenant.  My first approach is to just tell the tenant to buy a wasp spray and spray it (if small), I would credit the rent that amount with an invoice (and bill to owner out of the reserve account). 

I see a lot of ants in the properties in Denver and it is pretty seasonal.  I have hired exterminators for that averaging about $125.  I know it is more expensive than the Home Depot option of traps, but that guy takes care of it and they are not back for a year or two+.  I think that is worth it because monthly complaints from tenants that want to move out because of a recurring pest problem will cost you way more than $200.

I dealt with squirrels in the attic for $10 and ants for another $10 using the food bait/traps that they take back to their colony. Solved in days for $20.