Pests in rental properties

A pest infestation in a rental property can lead to issues between tenants and landlords, especially when determining responsibility for pest control.

Let’s take a look at the concept of pest control, the types of pests commonly encountered in Australian properties, and the respective responsibilities of tenants and landlords in managing pest issues.

What is pest control? 

The term ‘pest control’ covers various measures to manage or eliminate pests that may infest your property.

Common pests found in Australian rental properties include rats, mice, cockroaches, ants, fleas, wasps, termites, possums, spiders, snakes, and silverfish.

Pest control aims to deter, repel, or remove these pests using a range of strategies and techniques.

Of course, preventing a pest issue is much preferred to dealing with one that has happened. But if the problem exists, there is only one way to deal with it: removing the pests.

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Is pest control a landlord or tenant responsibility? 

Determining who is responsible for pest control can get a little complex. This is often something that depends on local legislation and the specific terms outlined in a lease agreement.

Many local councils nationwide enforce health and safety bylaws for residential property owners to undertake pest control yearly for pests and vermin.

While there may be variations, the following guidelines can provide general insights:

Check your lease agreement

The first step in determining responsibility for your issue is to read the lease agreement. Some tenancy agreements include a clause regarding pest control. In these situations, use your signed agreement as your guide.

Are you a tenant? The first step in understanding pest control responsibility is to review your lease agreement.

Some tenancy agreements explicitly address pest control, giving you clarity on which party (you or your landlord) bears the responsibility.

Refer to your signed agreement for guidance.

Check the Residential Tenancies Act

If you’re dealing with pests and your lease doesn’t say anything about it, don’t worry! You can refer to the Residential Tenancies Act 1997 for guidance.

Basically, the Act says that tenants have to take good care of their place and keep it clean.

So if the pests are there because of something the tenant did (like not cleaning up after their pets), they are responsible for taking care of it. But if the pests are there for some other reason, then it’s usually up to the landlord to deal with.

Tenants – Your pest control responsibilities

When it comes to dealing with pests in your rental, it’s important to take action. Here are some tips:

  1. Preventative measures: Be sure to store your food properly and use sprays or baits when necessary. If you notice any signs of pests, report them to your landlord or property manager immediately.
  2. Property Condition Report: When you first move in, take a look around for any maintenance issues or cleanliness concerns, including pests like cockroaches, ants, or spiders.
  3. Flea treatment: If you have pets and are moving out of your rental, be sure to review your lease agreement to see if you need to take steps to control fleas. It’s always better to be safe than sorry, so take these preventative measures to keep your rental pest-free!

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Landlords/Owners – Your pest control responsibilities

As a landlord/owner, it’s important to remember that pest infestation can occur for various reasons, including poor housekeeping or lack of cleanliness from the tenant. However, there are some key responsibilities that you should keep in mind.

a. Professional pest control:
You’re expected to arrange and cover the cost of professional pest control services to manage infestations involving animals like rats, mice, termites, and other pests.

b. Assessing the tenant’s actions:
If the tenant’s actions, such as improper waste disposal or activities that contribute to increased pest presence, can be identified as the cause of the infestation, you may argue that the responsibility lies with the tenant.

Hot tip: You can eradicate many pests in the list above using simple supermarket products, such as insect sprays, baits and traps.

Health and safety concerns

If you come across any pest infestations that might pose health and safety risks, don’t hesitate to inform your property manager or landlord. It’s important to share these concerns so that they can be addressed promptly, ensuring you have a safe and comfortable living environment.

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  1. It’s good to know that property owners are normally responsible for pest control. My sister has been telling me about how she found a mouse in her apartment the other day. I’ll share this information with her so that she can talk to her landlord about it.

  2. Some landlords couldn’t care less. We moved into a property with a bee infestation in the BBQ area and were assured it would be sorted out as my husband is allergic. However, it was left up to us to have it removed, even though it was there before we moved in. It was a full hive that took two beekeepers to remove it.

  3. When it comes to dealing with an ant infestation in an apartment, what would be a reasonable amount of time for a pest control company to respond? If a renter is facing an issue with ants and is informed that the pest control company will only arrive after 10 days, is this considered acceptable? The landlord is unwilling to pay for any “extra” visits that cost $50 and therefore the tenant is left to deal with the problem on their own or wait for 10 days. Is this legal and acceptable?

  4. There are many types of pests that can attack your house, and one of them is the termite. The main reason termites are tough to deal with is that they cannot be detected until they have caused considerable damage and have set up large colonies. I believe that landlords are responsible for this issue because it is their responsibility to perform monthly checks of the house for the presence of termites and other pests.

  5. In this case, landlords are responsible for pest control while tenants are responsible for their homes. That is why they need to inspect their homes for pests. If there are any, they should inform the landlords.

  6. Pests such as German cockroaches do not appear during the winter, but their eggs will hatch in the spring. Be aware of this when moving during the winter season.

  7. Our family is renting, and we have two little girls. There are spiders everywhere, and we suspect they are white tips. Who is responsible for arranging and paying for pest control services?