Of course, we had a lot of questions when we had our first cockroach visitor to our house.
Here is a summary of my questions:
- What if we can not get over the roaches problem with the do it yourself pest control remedies?
- Who is responsible for the pest control service? Landlord or Tenant?
- What does it say in my lease contract about pest control?
- Is pest control expensive?
- How long it will take?
- Do they charge every time they treat or is it one time pest control charge only?
You may know some or all the answers, but frankly as a renter in California and not having had the chance to meet with roach intruders in our house before, we had no clue about what would happen and who would be responsible.
Like many other things that I learned during our fight with the roaches, we made lot of searches over the internet and read lot of state regulations in regards to pest infestation and exterminators.
If you are ready, let’s have a look at each step we’ve been through one by one.. I am not a lawyer but I hope this post will be help of you finding the right answer to the question of “Is landlord or tenant responsible for pest infestation control service”.
Lease Agreement and Pest Control
My first advise is to have a look at your lease agreement. Hopefully, you will not see roaches walking on it like the one that I prepared above! Check if your lease contract includes any item that includes the responsible party for pest infestation and control.
I have noticed that some landlords or renters were asking for adding an additional item to the lease agreement for pest control. Specially for the first 3 months. Unfortunately, we had no clue of such an item when we were signing our papers and haven’t included anything.
One thing I learned from this lesson is, if we intend to rent a house we definitely will be asking for pest control item to be added to the contract next time.
At the end, if you don’t have a specific item for it, let’s move on to the next step..
How The Roaches Found Your House?
I believe this is the main item for the determination of who will cover the pest control. If you have been keeping your house clean enough and believe that these intruders did not come with a luggage you brought home or with a second hand refrigerator, then it is a smart move trying to figure out where they came from.
Couple answers you may want to have before discussing with your landlord:
- Is your community clean enough?
- Is the HOA making any pest control spraying regularly?
- What about your neighbors? Your next door or anybody else noticed or suffering from roaches recently?
- What type of roach is it? Remember, some are brought by you (like German roaches) and some come from outside (smoky browns)..
- Do you have a dumpster outside? Is it regularly picked up? What about the community dumpster?
- Do you keep the back and front yards clean? Any dry leaves or too much watering in the evenings may also call some insects and specially roaches..
If you already have the answers to the above and most of them are pointing that the roaches are in your house not because of you, then I would advise you to take picture of your house internally and externally. These should be pointing how clean your house is and how bad the outside.
Also, if you can get a letter or email from your neighbors about their roach problems, if any, that will also be a supportive document for you to share with your Landlord.
Don’t forget, neither you nor your landlord should be blaming each other. Despite, both of you should be so cooperative to solve this problem. It is the maximum harm to both of you if you start discussions instead of taking an action!
Do I have to Pay for The Pest Control As Renter?
The lawful answer to this question is, ask a lawyer! But the real life answer that I have is below..
What I know is you have to talk with your Landlord, explain the situation at the very early stages. Don’t wait for your house to be fully infested before calling your Landlord.
Be honest! Explain what happened and try to find a mutual way to get rid of the problem. Moving to another house is not cheap for you and having an infested house is not good for the Landlord. No winners, no losers!
Based on this, I would recommend offering the half of the pest control payment. Again, nobody will loose at the end and nobody will win. This is a problem for both of you!
Of course, you can still insist on searching for state regulations or calling your agent but again and again, each day you loose is a day for the roaches to re-produce.
How Much Does Pest Control Cost?
As a first time caller, I had no idea about how much the pest control for roaches would cost to us. Although, it shows a little difference between companies, the ones I called usually came up with a round estimate of $200-300 for the first treatment.
Most of them also have plans for regular treatments, like quarterly or annually. If you opt to go with regular treatments as a long term customer, for sure the pest company may offer you better amounts.!
What Do I Need to Know When Hiring A Pest Control Company?
Almost every company we called came with a guarantee period after the treatment. Usually, this is about a month and includes free re-treatments. Taking in to consideration of the effectiveness of the first treatment (I mean the days that will pass for totally getting rid of the roaches), it may be beneficiary to go with the ones which can offer a longer guarantee period.
Some Extras For Roach Infestation
Of course there is a slight chance of having a bad conversation with your Landlord. You may be blamed of the infestation and may have to face some tough conversations.
Depending on the state you’re in, search for state regulations for pest infestation. I will give you the keyword for having the strongest word in your conversation:
Here in California, the state regulates that both the landlord and tenant are responsible when it comes to certain repairs. But most importantly, landlords are the ones who are legally responsible of making sure that the rental unit is fit to live in.
In other words, the house that you have rented must be HABITABLE!
You can find lot of examples of what is covered under the term of uninhabitable at the California Department of Consumer Affairs website. And once you read through, you’ll also notice that it also refers to YOUR RESPONSIBILITIES AS A TENANT, like keeping the house clean.
Have a look at the list that may be related to pest infestation as below from the state’s consumer affairs website:
Tenants are responsible of the following:
- You must keep the unit clean and sanitary
- You are responsible of using the rooms of the house for their intended purposes. You should not be using the bedroom as a kitchen!
- Tenant must dispose the trash and garbage in a clean way.
What Makes a Unit Uninhabitable?
If you feel confident for all of the above listed tenant responsibilities but still having problems with the roaches and your landlord is giving you hard time, then it may be time for finding a Code Enforcement Officer!
If you re-read the California Department of Consumer Affairs, it is stated as follows:
ANY BUILDING OR PORTION THEREOF INCLUDING ANY DWELLING UNIT, GUESTROOM OR SUITE OF ROOMS, OR THE PREMISES ON WHICH THE SAME IS LOCATED, IN WHICH THERE EXISTS ANY OF THE FOLLOWING LISTED CONDITIONS TO AN EXTENT THAT ENDANGERS THE LIFE, LIMB, HEALTH, PROPERTY, SAFETY, OR WELFARE OF THE PUBLIC OR THE OCCUPANTS THEREOF SHALL BE DEEMED AND HEREBY IS DECLARED TO BE A SUBSTANDARD BUILDING..
The above wording is an extract from the website and has been referenced to the following California Law (reference California Legislative Information):
CODE SECTION 1941.1 PARAGRAPH 1, HEALTH AND SAFETY CODE SECTIONS 17920.3, 17920.10.
INFESTATION OF INSECTS, VERMIN, OR RODENTS AS DETERMINED BY A HEALTH OFFICER OR, IF AN AGREEMENT DOES NOT EXIST WITH AN AGENCY THAT HAS A HEALTH OFFICER, THE INFESTATION CAN BE DETERMINED BY A CODE ENFORCEMENT OFFICER, AS DEFINED IN SECTION 829.5 OF THE PENAL CODE, UPON SUCCESSFUL COMPLETION OF A COURSE OF STUDY IN THE APPROPRIATE SUBJECT MATTER AS DETERMINED BY THE LOCAL JURISDICTION.
If you are at such a point that you think that the unit that you have rented is no more habitable, you are following and complying with the tenant responsibilities, and the landlord does not accept the situation, then it is time for searching for the right person:
Code Enforcement Officer!
All you have to do is, make a search for the code enforcement officer in your city or county. Contact with them and ask for their advises and the procedure.
Thankfully, we did not have to go this far. But, once you start searching the internet can give you more than you need!
Breaking the lease due to pest infestation!!!