Pests in rental properties

A pest infestation in a rental property can cause problems for both tenants and landlords – especially when pest control is required to manage the situation.

When bugs and other pests find their way into a rental property, it can cause conflict between tenants and landlords about which party is responsible for pest control.

What is pest control? 

The term ‘pest control’ covers several types of animal infestations and outbreaks. The types of pests you may encounter in a rental property can include, but are not limited to:

Pest control is the process of managing (by using deterrents or repellants) or removing pests. Managing or controlling these pests can be done in several ways.

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? 

Pests and vermin can become evident in a rental property at any stage of a tenancy. Determining who is responsible for managing the issue is complex. In many states/territories across Australia, pest control legislation is unclear and is often open to interpretation.

In fact, many local councils across the country also enforce health and safety bylaws for residential property owners to undertake pest control every year for pests and vermin.

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.

Check the Residential Tenancies Act

If your tenancy agreement fails to address your pest problems, you should look at the Residential Tenancies Act 1997. The Act states that “the tenant must take reasonable care of the premises and keep the premises reasonably clean.

So pest problems brought about by uncleanliness (e.g., the failure to dispose of rubbish properly) or caused by the tenant (fleas from pets) will be the tenant’s responsibility.

However, as a general rule, an outbreak or infestation of pests or vermin not due to the above will be the landlord/lessor’s responsibility.

Tenants – Your pest control responsibilities

Generally, tenants are held responsible for a pest infestation such as fleas caused by pets. Tenants are also responsible for pest prevention by ensuring food is properly stored and using sprays and baits where necessary.

When you complete your first property condition report, make sure you check the premises for cleanliness and maintenance issues, including insect pests like cockroaches, ants and spiders.

When you vacate your rental property, it is usually a condition of your tenancy agreement to undertake a flea treatment control if you have had pets living in the property. Check your lease agreement to see what applies to your tenancy.

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Landlords/Owners – Your pest control responsibilities

In most cases, property owners/landlords will be held responsible for pest and vermin control on animals such as rats, mice and termites. The one exception here is if the pest’s presence was caused by the tenant’s poor housekeeping or lack of cleanliness.

If the tenant did not properly dispose of their rubbish or undertook activities that increased the pests’ presence, you could argue that this is your tenant’s responsibility.

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

Health and safety concerns

If you’re renting a property with a pest infestation and are genuinely concerned about your health and safety, make your concerns known to your property manager or landlord.

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Lauren Vardy
Lauren Vardy

Lauren Vardy is the Content Manager at Rent.com.au, Australia's largest company dedicated to renters (ASX:RNT). Lauren has worked with Rent.com.au since 2015 and manages the Rent.com.au Blog. Formerly a journalist with Fairfax Media and Rural Press, Lauren has worked with multiple media groups in Australia and internationally on a freelance basis through publications including the Esperance Express, Southeast Asia Globe, Colosoul Magazine, The Sunday Times, and more.

7 COMMENTS

  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 this.

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

  3. In the case of ants, what would be considered a reasonable amount of time for the pest control company to respond to an infestation in an apartment? If a renter is experiencing ants all over and is being told that the pest company will come to the property 10 days later, is that considered acceptable? The pest company charges $50 for an “extra” visit, therefore the landlord doesn’t want to pay for them to make that added trip. As a result, the tenant is stuck living with the problem for 10 days … or has to go buy their own products and take care of it themselves in the meantime. Is this legal and considered acceptable?

  4. In the case of ants, what would be considered a reasonable amount of time for the pest control company to respond to an infestation in an apartment? If a renter is experiencing ants all over and is being told that the pest company will come to the property 10 days later, is that considered acceptable? The pest company charges $50 for an “extra” visit, therefore the landlord doesn’t want to pay for them to make that added trip. As a result, the tenant is stuck living with the problem for 10 days … or has to go buy their own products and take care of it themselves in the meantime. Is this legal and considered acceptable?

  5. There are many types of pets that will attack in your house and one of them is Termite. The main reasons why termites are tough to deal with is that they cannot be detected until they have done considerable damage and have set up large colonies. For me the responsible for this is the Landlords because it is the responsibility of the Landlord to do monthly checking of the house for the present of termites and other pets.

  6. In this case, landlords are responsible in pest control while the tenants are responsible in their homes which is why they need to inspect their homes if there where pest in the house then they will inform the landlords.

  7. Pests such as german cockroaches do not appear during winter but eggs will hatch from Spring. Beware of this when moving in Winter.

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