The question of pest control in rental properties is often debated. Tenants expect that their rental unit will be pest-free when they move in.—and they expect that the property owner will keep it pest-free. Pests fall under the responsibility of making your property habitable, to which your tenants are entitled.
Some landlords maintain that their responsibility is limited to delivering a house or apartment that is free from vermin or rodents at the time the lease is signed—and that the tenant becomes responsible from then on. This usually comes up after a tenant has moved in and starts seeing bugs or mice. In many cases, the tenant’s living habits are the problem. Whether it’s leaving food out and attracting mice and insects, or failing to report a water leak that rots out a baseboard, lifestyle can certainly contribute to pest issues. In this case, why would the landlord be responsible to pay for pest control?
However, if you’re an apartment building owner, you know how bugs and critters spread throughout an entire building. It only takes one unit to attract pests that become a problem for everyone else. In this case, the landlord would probably need to get control of the situation—on their own dime.
Pests can either be a huge problem or a non-issue, based on where your rental properties are. Some areas are just buggier than others. Some cities have major vermin problems. If you’re lucky to own rental property in an area that is infested with roaches or rats, you’re likely to spend much more time and money fighting them than other landlords. In warmer climates, property owners often take the initiative to keep cockroaches and other problem bugs under control through regular pest maintenance, like spraying.
Fleas are usually considered the tenant’s responsibility. If you allow pets in your rental properties, you might consider requiring pet owners to keep their animals on flea control. If it’s in the lease, and they agree to it, you’ll have some backing if fleas later become a problem. Flea control is especially important when pet-owning tenants move out. Fleas lay eggs that can hatch and surprise the next tenant. Be sure to have a professional service treat the unit for fleas—and the tenants should foot the bill.