One of the benefits of renting is that when something goes wrong in the home, the tenant need only pick up the phone or lodge a request online or via their Maintenance Manager app, if their property management agency uses it, to get it resolved. But while the landlord is responsible for most of the property maintenance, there are some responsibilities that rest with the tenant, like keeping the property clean, properly disposing of rubbish, using appliances and other fixtures responsibly, and avoiding activities that could cause damage to the property. There are however some grey areas. And one of those is who is responsible for getting rid of unwanted visitors in the home.
Summer is prime time for creepy crawlies in and around the home. The odd spider or cockroach is easy enough for the tenant to handle, but what if there is an infestation? Who is responsible – the tenant or the landlord?
Judging by property management discussions online, this is a common area of confusion. And it’s no wonder given that, in many states, the legislation relating to pest control is unclear and often open to interpretation. For example, a tenant is responsible for keeping the property clean, while the property owner is responsible for maintaining the property in a safe state of repair, fit for a tenant to live in (many would argue that this is open for interpretation).
Let’s say the property is suddenly riddled with cockroaches. Has this happened because the tenant failed in their duty of care to keep the property clean and free of food waste and other rubbish? Many local councils in various states of Australia require property owners to undertake an annual pest control treatment for pests and vermin, including rats and cockroaches, to protect the health and safety of tenants. If those rules don’t apply where you operate, common sense should prevail. Pests like cockroaches can be eradicated through the use of products that can be bought off the shelf like baits, traps and sprays. If the tenant has been living in the home for a while and there was no evidence of cockroaches at the time of the ingoing inspection, the tenant will generally have to pay for those products or for a professional fumigation of the rental property, if warranted.
When is a pest problem the responsibility of the landlord?
In most cases, the landlord is responsible for pest and vermin control (such as when rats, mice or termites are present) unless the tenant’s poor housekeeping has caused the infestation.
As property managers, you are not tradespeople. You can’t be expected to be experts in all repair and maintenance issues, including pests and vermin. Leave that up to the professionals. If you use Maintenance Manager in your agency (free to use if you recommend a PropertySafe inspection to your landlords), you could have one or two reputable pest extermination professionals listed in your database that work in your local area. Those professionals could be contacted via the app to visit a property with an issue and provide their expert opinion on why the infestation has occurred. (Maintenance Manager incorporates a portal for trade suppliers, enabling them to simply respond to your requests and keep you updated). This would help determine with whom the responsibility lies. Contact us to arrange a free demonstration of Maintenance Manager today.