Pest Control in Rental

6 Replies

Newbie landlord here...My tenant has been in our SFR for about 6 weeks. Prior to that the property was vacant for 3 months for rehab/renovation. She has now texted me saying that she has seen mouse poop and wants me to send out pest control. My lease has a pest addendum which states unit is free of pest upon move-in; that we will not provide any pest control after 14 days of move-in; and tenant is responsible for pest control either as paying direct to exterminator or if we pay, we will it back to them. This addendum is signed by both me and her. I am not opposed to making a one time exception to handle and pay for pest control but not sure if I should do this? If I did this, I was thinking that I should have her sign off acknowledging this as a one time exception and any further pest control needs will remain her responsibility as per the lease. Any thoughts or suggestions would be appreciated. Thank you in advance!

@Sameerah Baker why make the exception?  The lease seems to be crystal clear, if you made an exception you are setting a bad precedent for yourself and your tenant that the lease doesn't matter.  Also mice aren't super difficult, some dollar store traps will do just fine.

I wouldn't pay for the exterminator but I would have a professional take a look to make certain there are no openings for vermin to get in. Also, check underneath the sinks - if there are holes you can buy some sheet metal and cut it accordingly to cover any plumbing holes that are typically cut around sink pipes.

@Sameerah Baker - Section 8 in my area expects the Landlord to handle pest control by default; however, they will also honor a lease that places this responsibility back on the tenant and act accordingly. And for me, the only exception I make in which I will handle any aspect of pest control is any opening to the exterior that is allowing entry.

For rodents landlords bars the responsibility to conform there are not points of entry where the rodents are getting in. Look for holes in the soffit, crawl covers that are not secure or have holes, no,es where the utilities enter, etc. if there are rodents inside chances are they are getting inside somehow. 
if you or  vendor observes the tenant leaving the doors open without a screen door providing a barrier to entry, you may have some proof the tenant is inviting them in.  

In my experience, when there are pests that invade after the tenant has been there for some time (in your case, 6 months) and there had not been a previous infestation, that there is probably some food source readily scraps on the floor or food stored on the floor or shelves which is not protected.  Maybe there are kids who miss the garbage can or bucket under the sink.  So I would explore that with the tenant.  But I would not back down from the terms of the lease.  It is just like letting a tenant pay late without charging a late fee.  Once you do it, you will find it hard to go back and they will feel entitled to pay late if need be.  I would do the following:  Give notice of an inspection.  Inspect for open food sources for mice or rats. Discuss these issues with the tenant. Give the tenant the name of a pest inspector/remover you trust and leave it up to her to make the call.  I would also put photos and a memorandum in the tenant file, just in case.

If you are worried about section 8 you can always call the account manager for that tenant and explain the situation.  Sometimes the will even assist to help make the tenant more desirable when it comes to renewal of the lease.

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