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Landlord responsibilities: How to request pest control from your landlord

Request for pest control service sample letters

Pest problem? It even happens to the best of apartments. Maybe they were there when you moved in, or the little buggers came in after.  From cockroaches, bed bugs, rodents, spiders to termites, silverfish, ants, fleas, ticks, and flies — it’s important to learn what you are responsible for vs. your property manager, and how to request pest control from your landlord.

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What to do if you discover pests in your apartment

1. Report a possible infestation to your landlord within 24-48 hours in writing.

It’s important that you jump on this and do it right away. Make sure to send your request through your maintenance system or email, even if it’s a follow-up to your in-person or phone call.   Take photos where you can and be prepared with specific examples.

2. Your landlord should hire a qualified exterminator and give you notice to enter for inspection of a possible pest problem (and any neighboring units). 

Before an exterminator enters your unit, your landlord should give you notice of entry for the exterminator’s inspection. Your lease will state how much, usually 24-48 hours. Try to be flexible as exterminators can be tricky to schedule especially in peak seasons. The sooner they are working on your pest problem, the better.

3. You’ll need to cooperate with scheduling and the extermination efforts.

Make efforts to comply with any specific control or preventative measures the landlord puts in place. Such as removing source food, disposing of garbage, reducing clutter, sealing and closing cracks.

Roost Tip! Some states allow landlords to charge the cost of extermination to tenants who willfully or recklessly cause an infestation, or who fail to report an infestation in a timely manner. So do your best to cooperate and make sure to document your interactions with your landlord. 

Request pest control sample email to landlord

Dear [Name ]

Thanks for the conversation today.  As discussed, I discovered [pest name] in my apartment yesterday.  This poses a health hazard. It is not only unsanitary, it’s unpleasant to live with. 

My apartment number unit is [  ].  Please contact me immediately this week to schedule an exterminator.   You may reach me at any time at [phone number]. I’ll do my best to work with your schedule.

Sincerely,

[your name]

Request pest control sample email/letter to landlord who’s unresponsive

Dear [Name ]

I have discovered [pest name] in my apartment. This poses a health hazard. It is not only unsanitary; it is unpleasant to live with. I have left you [#] voicemails and sent a previous email regarding this issue and have not heard a response.  

My apartment number [X] in [X apartment complex]. In accordance with [see renter rights]  you are required to ensure my unit is safe and inhabitable.  

Please contact me immediately to schedule an exterminator visit to our unit to avoid further legal action, up to and including small claims court, as allowed by law.  

You may reach me at any time at [phone number]. 

Sincerely,

[your name]

Pest control: What is the landlord responsible for?

In most states, landlords are legally required to maintain and offer a pest-free property or habitable housing and bug-infested properties are generally considered uninhabitable. In addition, most landlords are motivated to keep tenants, discourage negative reviews, and maintain property condition/value. Here’s what your landlord is responsible for:

  • Inspecting the property and removing pests with a professional pest control service before you occupy the unit.
  • Fix all structural issues of the property — e.g, cracks, seals, and openings that pests can get through. 
  • Include a section in your rental lease related to the maintenance of the property for preventing pests.

Many landlords address pest control in the lease agreement. You may see reference to seasonal maintenance or regular preventative pest control services. Make sure you are clear on what’s included and who’s responsible for what.

Pest control: What are you responsible for as the renter? 

Just because landlords are responsible for a great deal of pest control, doesn’t mean that you’re not. You are partially responsible for pest control too! Here’s how:

  • Before signing your lease, make sure to check the unit over to ensure there are no signs of pests.  
  • Review your lease agreement carefully to make sure there is a description of how pest control is handled. Ask your landlord about this and if there have ever been any pest issues.  
  • Take care to keep your apartment clean (especially the kitchen), vacuum and sweep regularly, and empty garbage and recycling each week.
  • Make sure to report any signs of pests or structural damage to your landlord immediately.  

Examples where your landlord may require you to pay for the extermination or deduct it from your security deposit include: 

  • Your pets bring in a flea infestation while no other units in the complex have an issue with fleas.
  • Your apartment has a roast infestation due to a consistent mess, unwashed dishes, and garbage left in your apartment. 
  • You travel a lot and bed bugs came home on your luggage. You are the only unit in the building with bedbugs. 

What to do if your landlord won’t take care of the pest problem

Pest control isn’t cheap and sometimes identifying the source is tricky. Reference to pest control is always (almost) in the lease and good landlords would rather manage it themselves than leave it up to the tenant. If you are just not getting the help you need, first read your lease to be crystal clear on responsibilities and then review your state’s law on landlord pest responsibilities. You may be allowed to

  • Withhold rent (not allowed in all states)
  • Deduct the costs of extermination from your rent (not allowed in all states)
  • After good effort on your part to remedy the situation, you may have cause to break your lease if the situation is not improved.
  • As a last resort, you may report your landlord to the health board for action
  • Or, in extreme cases, you may be able to sue your landlord in small claims court for out-of-pocket pest control expenses, replacement costs for your items damaged by pests, negligence, and possibly un-in-habitability. Gross infestations of roaches, fleas, or other pests are uninhabitable conditions.

CAUTION: Before you take any of these steps listed above to deal with an unresponsive landlord, you should consider consulting an attorney or local housing resource to see what options local law allows. Some states don’t allow tenants to withhold rent or move out without penalty, and others might even put the responsibility on the tenant to exterminate bed bugs. Tenants who improperly take one of these steps to solve their bed bug problem might face serious consequences, such as owing rent on a unit they’ve moved out of or having their tenancy terminated for wrongfully withholding rent.

Getting rid of your pests

If it’s a few bugs here or there, that’s likely on you. But if you identify a pest infestation, make sure to deal with the problem immediately and let your landlord know. The longer a pest issue goes unchecked, the worse the problem will become.

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Last Updated: June 18th, 2021