Is Pest control a landlord or tenant responsibility?

Is Pest control a landlord or tenant responsibility?

Just like garden maintenance this is one of the biggest areas of confusion and dispute between landlords and tenants. Why? Well mainly on two fronts: –

1.The legislation is not clear on responsibilities (it’s open to interpretation)

2.The cause of pests is subject to dispute

 

Pests may include:

  • Fleas
  • Cockroaches
  • Ants
  • Spiders (i.e. Redbacks)
  • Rats and mice
  • Snakes and possums
  • Bees and wasps
  • White ants (termites)

Pest control falls under the general responsibility of both tenants and landlords to maintain the premises in a state of reasonable repair, safety and cleanliness. Many cases have gone before a tribunal where the interpretation of the tenancy legislation has led to judgement. At times in favour of the tenant but not always.

Generally, as a property owner, you are responsible for pest and vermin control (such as rats, mice and termites). The exception being that the presence of the pest was caused by your tenant’s poor housekeeping or lack of cleanliness. If your tenant has not been disposing of perishable rubbish or has been undertaking activities which increase the presence of pests, as a property owner you could argue and win a dispute that it is your tenant’s responsibility. But what’s important is the time line of events leading to the discovery of the pest problem.

It is a landlord’s responsibility to provide a premise in a clean and habitable state free from pests. The tribunals have found that if a tenant reported an issue very soon after taking occupancy then this would be a reasonable timeframe to place the responsibility in the hands of the landlord to affect treatment. Also if a tenant can prove by way of evidence (e.g. entry condition report and photographs) that the premises was not given to them in a clean state then this in itself is enough evidence to place the responsibility and costs on the landlord.

General guide to responsibility

Below is a general guide to who is responsible when an infestation occurs. However, the person with responsibility may change depending on the individual situation, the history of the property, and what has been recorded on the condition report.

 

Pests and vermin The landlord is responsible The tenant is responsible
Ants if present at the start of the tenancy if present during the tenancy
Bees and wasps if present in a wall cavity or similar

if present at the start of the tenancy

if present during the tenancy
Birds to remove and seal off any entry points
Cockroaches, fleas and spiders if present at the start of the tenancy if present during the tenancy
Mice and rats if present at the start of the tenancy if present during the tenancy
Possums to remove and seal off any entry points
Snakes if present at the start of the tenancy

if caused by the landlord breaching the conditions of the agreement – eg.landlord left piles of rubbish in garden

if present during the tenancy
Termites/white ants at the start and throughout the tenancy

 

If you would like to talk to someone regarding your responsibilities as a landlord or tenant, contact Vincent on 0477462299 or use the contact form on our website.

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