There is an ongoing debate between landlords and tenants when it comes to who is responsible for pest control. Unfortunately, there is no clear-cut answer as each state and local law varies.
In the State of Texas, landlords are legally responsible for what is referred to as the “implied warranty of habitability.” This means that landlords are required to maintain a livable home which includes routine pest control.
This, however, doesn’t necessarily mean that the landlord is always responsible. The circumstances that surround any pest incident also helps to determine who is responsible and what should be done to properly control pests in the residence.
Pest Control Lease Agreement
Before we begin, you can often find the answer as to which party is responsible for pest control in the lease agreement. In most states, the lease dictates the landlord will be responsible for certain aspects of pest control.
Texas Property Code section 92.056 states: “For a condition that materially affects the physical health or safety of an ordinary tenant, the landlord is required to make repairs or to remedy the condition.” Under Texas property codes, the landlord is responsible for a healthy as well as structurally safe building.
If there is a pest problem that is causing structural damage or is an endangerment to the public’s health, the landlord is responsible. However, the law does state “ordinary.” This law doesn’t force landlords to cater to those with special health conditions.
For those with sensitive immune systems or health conditions where they require a more sterile environment, and additional pest control management is needed, often that responsibility falls on the tenant.
When is a Tenant Responsible for Pest Control?
As the landlord may be responsible for certain aspects of pest control, a tenant can also find themselves legally obligated for pest control in certain situations.
A tenant may find themselves responsible if they created the pest problem. Pests are drawn to certain conditions. To speak plainly, tenants that leave debris outside their building or have a lot of clutter and don’t properly discard food and waste can subsequently create a pest problem.
This problem can quickly spread into other tenant’s dwellings such as apartment complexes. In addition to shared walls and floors, apartments also share connected utilities, which create easy pathways for pests to travel.
A landlord cannot properly battle a problem that a tenant is creating. If a landlord is having several complaints about pests, particularly from those who are creating the situation, then the landlord needs to keep documentation concerning the tenant in question. With adequate proof that the tenant is responsible, the tenant will be accountable for pest control of these pests.
Are Landlords Responsible for Roaches, Bed Bugs, or Other Pests?
There are many pests that will invade rental homes, apartments, or multi-family housing, which is often controlled by a landlord. As the pests vary greatly, the question is often asked which pests are the landlord or the tenant’s responsibility for.
Again, it will be stated in the lease. One of the current and largest debates are bed bugs. When it comes to bed bugs, naturally most people will declare it the tenant’s responsibility. However, due to the current rise in bed bug problems across the country, new laws are being put in place every day.
As current laws are not yet settled, in most cases it is agreed that a current tenant is responsible for treating bed bugs. A situation when a new tenant is moving into a home with bed bugs should be corrected by the landlord.
Pest Control Advice for Tenants
A local Austin, TX pest control company, A-Tex Pest Management offers great advice for tenants. They recommend that if you do have a pest control problem, be sure to read your lease agreement thoroughly as often the answer is in the agreement you signed before moving in.
Bring the pest problem to the landlord’s attention if there is a rise in pest activity. As a tenant, make sure you haven’t created the problem by bringing in pests via second-hand furniture, packages or luggage, and so on. We hope in this blog that we have helped clarify the pest control responsibilities of landlords and tenants.