Tenants rights to pest control

Written by greg jackson
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Tenants rights to pest control
Pest control is included in tenants rights under certain codes. (cockroach 2 image by chrisharvey from Fotolia.com)

The issue of pest control is part of a landlord-tenant agreement under the international and national building codes that apply to health and sanitation The jurisdiction of health and safety codes of local, state and federal agencies varies by location, but any government agency charged with prosecuting health violations, including pest infestations, must respond to tenant requests or complaints concerning pest control.

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Fundamental Conditions Related to Pest Control

The basic right to a safe and healthy living environment is recognised as the standard of habitability concerning a landlord's responsibilities to their tenants. This aspect of tenancy refers to an assurance that there are no hazards present that could adversely affect their health. Pest and vermin infestations are included in code enforcement regulations, especially when conditions are extreme. This relates to the removal of trash, building material or scraps of material, and any other debris that can provide food and shelter for rodents, cockroaches and other potential carriers of disease or bacteria.

Case History

The New York City HPD (Housing Preservation and Development) Department responded to a 2008 citywide outbreak of bedbug infestations by investigating more than 7,000 tenant complaints concerning pest control. This effort resulted in more than 2,000 citations being issued to building owners. HPD health and sanitation codes require the landlord to remedy the pest problem in a "reasonable" amount of time. Failure to do so causes remediation to be performed by city services at the owner's cost.

Variables in Jurisdictional Regulations

The Georgia Department of Community Affairs (DCA) website refers to the issue of tenants rights regarding pest control on their FAQ page. A response to a question about landlord responsibilities to provide pest control is answered by the DCA as a lack of mandated provisions according to Georgia Department of Housing. However, the state sanitation codes will come into play when pest infestations present a threat to tenant health, and code violations will require a response by the owner of a property.

Specific Regulations

The city of Bangor, Michigan, includes separate regulations in its property maintenance codes that refer to pest control requirements and general building codes. Regulation PM 302, chapter 15 of the city code of ordinance that mandates extermination as part of "blight prevention, correction, and enforcement." Their definition of extermination relates to the control and elimination of pests such as rodents and insects by removing harbourage materials and using pest control methods such as spraying and fumigation. Landlords who do not comply will be cited and ordered to correct the conditions.

Tenants Responsibilities

All of the various jurisdictional codes will include conditions that apply to the living habits of the tenant related to pest control. Every tenant is required to maintain their residence in a manner that complies with the general habitability regulations of health and sanitation codes. This includes keeping the property interiors free from trash and other debris and adhering to food preparation, storage and disposal standards to discourage pest infestations. Additionally, the tenants have an obligation to report pest problems or conditions conducive to pest infestations to landlords or property managers in a timely fashion.

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