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How to request pest control from your landlord
What you should know
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 — know your rights for what your landlord is responsible for and how to get rid of them.
If your apartment isn’t getting hot water, the food in the refrigerator is melting, or the air conditioner is broken in the middle of July… time is of the essence. If you’ve ever nervously wondered, “How long does a landlord have to fix something?” then this is the post for you. Learn the best way to request repairs from your landlord (spoiler alert: it’s not via text message!) so that the repairs happen and you have the appropriate documentation to report them, break your lease, or even take legal action, if necessary.
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 by email, even if it’s a follow up to your in-person or phone call. Some states even have guidance required to ensure the landlord pays the bill.
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 any exterminator enters your unit, your landlord should give you proper notice of entry for the exterminator’s inspection.
3. You will need to reasonably cooperate with the extermination efforts
and comply with any specific control/preventative measures the landlord puts in place.
Pest Control Sample Email to Landlord #1
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 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].
Pest Control Demand Email/Letter #2
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 two 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 [state pest ordinance reference — see Roost site] 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].
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 maintenance of the property for preventing pests.
What are you responsible for as the renter?
You are partially responsible for pest control of a rental property. 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.
- Once you are in your new place, keep your apartment clean and free from pests that you influence. Food containers should be kept properly sealed when not in use. Dispose of all garbage properly and always keep the garbage bins covered.
- Make sure to report any signs of pests or structural damage to your landlord immediately.
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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 and 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 and/or you rent a house.
What to do if your landlord won’t take care of the pest problem
Review your state’s law on landlord pest responsibilities. You may be allowed to
- Withhold rent
- Deduct the costs of extermination from your rent
- Break your lease and moving out early if the situation is not improved
- Sue your landlord for any harm you incur, such as the cost of paying for pest control out-of-pocket or the cost of having to replace personal items damaged by the pests
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 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.
Your renters rights, in your state.
Explore what you need to know.
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You probably already know that we’re not a law firm, but just to make sure we get this out of the way: We can’t provide any advice or opinions about possible legal rights, remedies, defenses, options, selection of forms, or strategies. And by hanging out with us here at Roost, you agree to our Legal disclaimer.