Heard something tapping at night? Or has the skirting board collapsed in your bedroom? You might have a termite problem in your rental.

Know your enemy

Termites have a straight waist, straight antennae and their wings will be of the same length. But correctly identifying termites can be tough, especially as termites often remain hidden away in properties for years without an owner’s knowledge. The first indicator of a problem is visible evidence of damage.

You might have a termite problem if… 

You spot one of the following common signs of termites:

  • Floor damage – affected flooring can sag in certain areas. Checking underneath the flooring can help to uncover termites. Does the floor feel more springy than usual?
  • Wall damage – can you see any unexplained cracks on your internal walls? Termites will consume cellulose found in the timber within walls, and this causes visible cracks.
  • Ceiling damage – wooden ceilings and beams are just as much at risk of termite damage as things lower to the ground. Can you see any cracks in ceilings or cornices?
  • Foundation damage – rental properties that have crawl spaces are at higher risk of damage as their foundations will traditionally be made out of wood.
  • Sticking doors/windows – when doors and windows become infested with termites,  they can become difficult to open. This is because their tunnelling and eating cause the frames to become misshapen.
  • Weakened/hollow-sounding wood – as termites eat through wood they create hollow galleries underneath the surface. This will make the structure sound hollow when knocked or tapped on. If you have wooden doors, furniture or wooden structural supports in your property, they’re all at risk and are worth checking.

Steps to take against termites

Once the correct identification of the termites has been made, the best solution that can be offered is to bring the problem under control very quickly. Generally speaking, termite infestation is more likely to occur in hotter climates around Australia (places like Adelaide, Brisbane, Cairns and Sydney).

Are landlords or tenants responsible for termites?

The first thing to do is contact your landlord or agent straight away. The reason for this is that any extermination process will need to be approved and initiated by the property owner. Furthermore, your landlord is responsible for any monetary costs involved with eradicating termites.

The second step is to ask your landlord to contact a licensed termite inspector in your area. Termite inspections are designed to evaluate your house and examine the extent of the damage caused by any termites. A report provided to the property owner will also explain the expenses required to treat the problem.

Off the back of this report, there’ll be recommendations for further action for termite eradication and treatment. If your rental has large wooden portions (i.e. timber floors or attics), the structural integrity of the building could be severely compromised by the presence of termites. Make sure you request a copy of the report.


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