April 8, 2020

Pest control – Tenant or landlord responsibility?

Regardless of whether you’re a landlord or tenant, no-one likes the thought of unwanted guests like cockroaches, mice, rats and termites residing in a rental home.

But who exactly is responsible for dealing with pests should they take up residence? Is pest control the landlord’s problem or does it fall to the tenant?

Well, actually the answer to that isn’t exactly clear cut, and here’s why.

Circumstances dependent

Pest control is a bit of an ambiguous issue when it comes to who takes responsibility.

That’s partly because it is not exactly set out in most state and territory residential tenancy acts, and also because it depends if the property was properly maintained in the first place. It can also depend on the type of pests involved.

We know that’s not exactly a crystal-clear answer, so let’s take a bit of a look at what we mean?

Cleanliness a must for tenants

Under most state and territory acts, the tenant is required to keep a property clean and in good repair. If they don’t and that results in the arrival of pests and vermin, they may be responsible for the pest control.

Cockroaches, rats and mice tend to be the main offenders we are talking about here in terms of pests who arrive due to poor food practices and a lack of general cleanliness.

There’s also a common-sense expectation that most tenants will take precautionary measures against common pests, such as sealing food containers and properly storing food, or putting down cockroach baits, mouse traps etc.

Meanwhile, often a tenant will be required to undertake pest control at the end of their lease if they have pets at the property.

In the interim, if a tenant has pets and flea become an issue during a tenancy, it’s also the tenant’s responsibility to eradicate them.

Landlord obligations

If, however, pests were present prior to the commencement of a lease, it’s the landlord’s responsibility to take care of the problem.

It is also often the landlord’s responsibility when it comes to specific pests a residence might be prone to.

Termites, for example are always the landlord’s responsibility because that’s about protecting the house or unit against structural damage. Possums who take up residence ad cause damage also fall under the landlord’s purview.

It’s also generally considered best practice for landlords to undertake pest control prior to leasing their property in the first place, and they probably should be conducting it on a regular basis throughout the life of their home.

So, what’s the takeaway?

If pests prove a problem during a tenancy, the first port of call is your rental agreement to work out who is responsible. Often there’s a clause in the agreement outlining pest control obligations.

It’s also worth having a chat with your property manager about the type of pest infestation and how it should potentially be handled. They can point you in the right direction of who’s responsible and will also often have access to records regarding when the home was most recently sprayed.

How we can help

At Eview Group our experienced property managers pride themselves on establishing great relationships with both tenants and landlords. We appreciate as a renter, the property you reside in is the place you call home.