Pest infestation on a rental property can bring a whole lot of problems with it, some of which can be quite serious. When bugs, cockroaches, ants and other pests find their way into a rental property, what’s clear is that the landlord won’t be happy about it. And likewise, the tenant, who's going to be sharing their home with the pests.
But what is often not clear is who, among the two parties, is responsible for handling the pest problems. Who is responsible for pest control, landlord or tenant?
What is Pest Control and Why is it Important?
Pest control are activities aimed at managing and removing pests from the home by using either deterrents or repellants. The types of pest you may encounter in a rental includes rats and mice, cockroaches, wasps, fleas, ants, termites spiders and snakes. That is by no means an exhaustive list.
Preventing pests from taking refuge in a rental home appears the best option but there's little else one can do when a pest problem already exists, except remove them from the property.
Is Pest Control a Landlord or Tenant Responsibility?
The first step in determining this conundrum is to ascertain who has agreed to take responsibility in the event of a pest or animal outbreak. The right place to look at is the tenancy agreement. At the beginning of a lease, parties in a rental agreement may have inserted a clause regarding pest control. When there’s a dispute, it’s best to look at what was agreed upon in the agreement.
If your tenancy agreement does not address your pest problems, you should look at the Residential Tenancy Act 1997.
We have included the appropriate regulations for the various states and territories down below:
In the absence of a satisfactory solution in the rental agreement on how to deal with a pest problem, we’ll now consider what is generally acceptable when it comes to controlling pests in a rental property.
Pest Control – Responsibilities as The Landlord
The landlord or property manager is generally responsible for the control of pests and vermin (rats mice and termites) in a rental property. The only exception is if the pest's animal infestation was caused by the tenant doing poor cleanliness or housekeeping job.
Therefore, if the tenant did not properly clear their rubbish or housed pets which then attracts pests such as fleas and lice to the property, you could argue and win a dispute against the tenant which may result in an outcome where they have to pay for any damages suffered to the property.
Essentially, the landlord’s responsibility is to provide a rental that is in a clean and habitable state free from pests and animal infestations.
If the tenant can prove with sufficient evidence, such as a condition report and photographs, that the premises weren't handed to them in a clean state, this is usually enough to place the responsibility and cost of controlling a pest outbreak squarely on the landlord.
Pest Control – Responsibilities of the Tenant
The Rental Tenancies Act 1997 states that “the tenant must take reasonable care of the premises and keep the premises reasonably clean.”
From the above, it is clear that tenants are generally held responsible for pest problems arising from either uncleanliness (not properly disposing of rubbish) or caused by their pets (fleas, lice).
The tenant is also responsible for ensuring foods are properly stored to prevent pests. And they are also expected to use sprays and baits where necessary.
To protect your corner in the event of a dispute, make sure your first condition report thoroughly check for cleanliness and maintenance issues. As well as the presence of pests like cockroaches, ants, termites, and spiders.
Finally, after you vacate a rental property, it is usually a clause in your rental agreement to complete a flea treatment control if you have kept pets in the rental property. Confirm from your lease agreement to be sure what applies to your tenancy.