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Is the Property Owner or Tenant Responsible for Pest Control?

Posted by sonrise on December 10, 2017
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The property owner is generally responsible for pest control in rental units, including residential buildings and single-family homes. Ideally, the terms of pest control are included in the lease agreement so that expectations are known in advance. Exceptions may be written into the lease for situations where the tenants brought the pests into the home. For example, tenants may be responsible for eradicating bugs such as fleas if they have pets. The lease agreement should specify that pets are to be kept clean and free of fleas and other insects. Another example is when tenants bring bed bugs into the house through infested bedding, luggage or packages. The bottom line is that renters can be required to pay for pest control services if they are responsible for the bug problem.

Is the Property Owner or Tenant Responsible for Pest Control?

How a property owner should handle pest control

Pest control services

A condominium association or property management company may have an agreement with a licensed exterminator to eradicate pests on a quarterly or semi-annual basis. This will be determined by the location of the property and its buildings since homes and multi-family buildings in some areas may have seasonal problems with insects.

The services of an exterminator vary with location and the area to be covered. Many pest exterminators use non-toxic sprays to eliminate pests to prevent a negative reaction to the people living in the house.

Type of pests

There are many insects and rodents that take up residence inside of buildings when they should remain outside. Other pests move into yards, trees and shrubs during spring and summer.

Some unwanted pests include:

Mice and rats
Weasels and raccoons

Most of these pests are prevalent in many areas during the spring, summer and fall. They may also proliferate during the winter in warmer locations.

Some rodents are “cute” but the parasites they carry are not. Raccoons, squirrels and their relatives belong outside; not in the basement or attic.

Living conditions

A rental unit must be livable under the laws in most states. The property owner can be responsible for “abatement” if there is an infestation of mice, rats, termites and other potentially harmful pests.

It is also the responsibility of the renter to keep the apartment or house clean and free of pests as best as possible. This means keeping food covered and rooms clean of dust and dirt that may attract bugs. Windows should be screened in areas where flying insects are a problem. Garbage should be removed before it attracts insects. The property owner may not be responsible for a colony of ants that has infiltrated an uncovered sugar bowl, for example.

The tenant can easily clean up a few ants or kill a wandering cockroach. If the problem occurs frequently, there may be an infestation of pests below the flooring or in the walls of a building. Insects and occasionally rodents can also nest in dirty heating and air conditioning ducts.

Renters in an apartment building should ask their neighbors if they also experience problems with insects. More than one unit with ants, cockroaches and other pests may indicate an infestation of the building.

A rental house on a large lot may be the perfect habitat for insects and rodents on the property. The renter should look for gopher holes and other indications of rodents. These animals are not harmful away from the house but a wasp nest under the eaves of a roof is a problem and should be carefully removed.


The property owner is generally responsible for the payment but the renter may be asked to pay the exterminator and deduct the cost from the rent or pay up-front and be reimbursed. Alternatively, the property management company or property owner may pay the pest control service directly.

Regular maintenance of a rental property should help to eliminate the problem of unwanted insects and other pests.

Son-Rise Property Management has been serving the property management needs of Bellingham and Whatcom County since 1996. Contact us today to see how we can help you find a rental property for your family or manage your rental properties.

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