In a Rental Who’s Responsible for the Pest Control?

May 16, 2022
In a Rental, Who's Responsible for the Pest Control?

Getting rid of pests, like ticks and termites, in a home can cost a significant amount of money. So, tenants and landlords often argue on the question—in a rental who is responsible for pest control?

Comprehensive high-end pest treatment can cost $450, according to one estimate. Considering such a bite on the wallet, the tab on pest control landlord or tenant looks at can be contentious.

Moreover, the money spent on pest control services is not a one-shot expense. The pest control routine that experts suggest is quarterly or every 2 to 3 months. 

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What the fine print says

Guidelines on pest control as a tenant or landlord’s responsibility are typically spelled out in your lease agreement. These can help settle arguments on the question—in a rental, who is responsible for pest control?

Referring to the Residential Tenancies Act 1997 is also be a good idea to determine if pest control is tenant or landlord responsibility. According to this Act, “the tenant must take reasonable care of the premises and keep the premises reasonably clean.”

In a rental, who is responsible for pest control may depend on the type of infestation.

Hence, pest problems arising from uncleanliness, such as improper rubbish disposal, bring to the tenant the burden of solving. Other pest issues that may occur naturally are for a landlord to solve. 

Many Australian states and territories also have legislations around pest control that you can check. Be ready though to deal with some provisions which may be too general and therefore open to interpretation.

Threat to tenant and landlord

Thus, in case an issue on pest control as a tenant or landlord responsibility arises mid-lease, quick negotiation and solving the problem fast is a must. The pest infestation could result in threats to tenants’ health or the integrity of the residential structure and thus, the landlord’s investment. 

In a rental, who is responsible for pest control can be clearly resolved by first looking at household pests types. Some may come naturally while others can get out of hand because of tenants’ untidy habits. 

Australian households generally have these top 10 pests to deal with.  

  • Cockroaches. These bugs thrive in damp, untidy surroundings and can bring diseases like dysentery and gastro-enteritis.
  • Termites. These wood eaters are estimated to cause nearly $700 million in damage each year to houses around Australia.
  • Spiders. Over 2,000 species of spiders are found in Australia, some of which belong to the most venomous in the world.
  • Ants. There are about 1,300 ant species in Australia, and some, like bull ants, can be highly aggressive.
  • Fleas. Unkempt pets primarily cause these house menace whose bites bring the threat of parasite transmission.
  • Mosquitoes. These insects known for their infectious bites can multiply fast, going from egg to adult in as short as four days.
  • Bees and wasps. These insects are okay if they’re confined in the wild ecosystem but not at home because of their terribly painful stings
  • Flies. Home infestations of these insects are common because they can multiply rapidly, especially in unclean places. 
  • Rodents (rats and mice). These were the unwanted company of Australia’s first European settlers, which now fouls up homes, carry diseases, and damage buildings.
  • Bedbugs. These small, nocturnal critters are hard to detect and can infest not only the bedrooms but also other parts of the home. 

Rental homes in countryside locations are also vulnerable to infestations of wild creatures. The more common among these are snakes and possums.

With the many sources of pest infestation, it’d be smart for tenants and landlords to have a clause on it on their tenancy agreement at the outset. The landlords especially will be able to anticipate potential pest outbreaks common in their property’s location.

They may also include in their lease agreement a requirement for pet-owning tenants to fumigate against flea infestation. Having such agreement clauses makes it easy to sort out in a rental who is responsible for pest control.

Tenants’ lookout for pests

In general, tenancy agreements will require tenants to keep the rental premises clean to help prevent pest infestation. They may also be required to take active anti-pest measures, such as clearing cobwebs, fumigating, and setting up mouse traps. 

However, if the pest infestation is bad upon move-in, the tenants should contact immediately their landlord and property manager. They are responsible for pest control services, with the high likelihood of the pests already present when the tenants moved in.

If you’re a tenant in this situation, the landlord should pay for the pest control services which you may call. Consult your state tenant authority if your landlord doesn’t budge and leave it all up to you.    

Also remember that when you’re moving out, pest removal is your concern. Tenants are typically responsible under tenancy agreements for the following: 

  • Removing cockroaches, ants, or spiders during the tenancy
  • Clearing wasps and bees if these insects build a nest after you have moved in
  • Dealing with a snake safely if one appears in the house or backyard

Landlords’ pest control responsibility 

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If you’re a landlord with a rental property having pest issues, solving them and protecting your tenants and their premises is your responsibility. It is best, therefore, to have your rental inspected and pests removed before tenants move in.  

Adding pest clauses into your lease agreement is a good idea for your renters who have pets. This way, you can require them to for fumigation costs at the end of their contract.

Taking the early preventive measures will lessen the likelihood of you being responsible for solving pest infestation that occurs later. Watch out though for less common pest issues as usually, these are your responsibility areas. 

The common pest scenarios that landlords must handle include: 

  • Large presence of cockroaches, fleas, bedbugs, ants, bees, wasps, or vermin before a tenant moves in
  • Birds or possums nesting in the rental or damaging the outside of the property
  • Termites, no matter when an infestation occurs

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