- Responsibility for Pests and Pest. Some states require all landlords to keep the unit pest-free, some don’t, and some cover particular types of pests (read more).
- Tenant’s Options. If pest problems are not dealt with in a timely manner, depending on the state, tenants may have multiple options for recourse, such as withholding rent or terminating the lease (read more).
Each state has its own rules on what needs to be provided for living conditions in rentals to be deemed “acceptable”, known as the Implied Warranty of Habitability. Below is a breakdown of those laws as it relates to pest problems.
Addressing Pest Problems
The following chart lists what the landlords’ responsibilities are according to state law for each state when it comes to pests and pest control. Any exceptions to the requirements are noted for each state.
Note: the below table only addresses state laws. Always check with county or city housing codes for additional requirements.
|State||What Is Landlord’s Responsibility?|
|Alaska||Treat for rats, mice, roaches, or other “pests” in the rental unit.|
|Arizona||Ensure that rental units are not infested with rodents, insects, or “vermin.”|
|California||Ensure that rental units are rodent- and vermin-free.|
|Colorado||Provide appropriate extermination services whenever necessary.|
|Connecticut||Treat bedbug infestations, and keep multi-family units free from infestations by vermin, pests, or rodents.|
|Delaware||Keep rental units free from rat and insect infestations.|
|Florida||Treat multi-family units for rats, mice, roaches, ants, wood-destroying pests (termites, etc.), and/or bedbugs and pro-rate rent for any time the tenant had to be out of the unit.|
|Georgia||Landlord has no responsibility unless pest control is included in rental agreement or if tenant can prove conditions affect habitability.|
|Maine||Treat rental units for bedbug infestations.|
|Maryland||Treat for rodents if found in at least two units of a multi-family rental property.|
|Massachusetts||Ensure that rental properties with two or more units are free from rodents, skunks, and insect infestations, including cockroaches.|
|Michigan||Ensure rental properties are free from “vermin.”|
|Montana||Keep rental units free from vermin and rodents, which includes extermination.|
|Nebraska||Ensure all rental properties are “rodent-proof.”|
|Nevada||Ensure that rental units are “reasonably free” from rodents, insects, and vermin, and exterminate when necessary.|
|New Hampshire||Treat for bedbugs if not caused by tenants.|
|New Jersey||Keep multi-family units free of pest infestations.|
|New Mexico||Not addressed|
|New York||Keep multi-family rental properties “rat-proof.”|
|North Carolina||Landlords must treat rat infestations if not caused by tenants.|
|North Dakota||Not addressed|
|Oregon||Ensure rental units are free from rodents and insects when a new rental agreement begins.|
|Pennsylvania||Keep multi-family units free from rodents, pests, and vermin.|
|Rhode Island||Provide rental units that are “rodent-proofed.”|
|South Carolina||Not addressed|
|South Dakota||Not addressed|
|Tennessee||Keep rental units free from pests and vermin.*|
|Vermont||Provide rental units that are free from pests, bugs and rodents.|
|Virginia||Apply pesticides/insecticides to rental units.**|
|Washington||Keep multi-family units free from infestations of pests, rodents, and insects.|
|West Virginia||Not addressed|
|Washington, D.C.||Ensure that rental units are free from rodents or pests and rental units must be rat-proofed.|
*In Tennessee, while landlords are required to keep the unit free from pests and vermin, they are only required to treat the unit for pests for a maximum of two times per year.
** In Virginia, the landlords are only required to apply pesticides and insecticides in the unit. This means that if insects are found after application, pest control may be the tenant’s responsibility.
Tenant’s Options if the Landlord Fails to Act on Pest Problems
Tenants have multiple options here, depending on the state. For example, a tenant can make do pest control themselves (or hire someone to do it) and deduct the costs from their monthly rent. However, most states set a dollar limit on the amount that can be deducted from rent if using the repair and deduct method.
We include state-by-state remedies in the chart below. Remember, this doesn’t include a landlord’s intentional or negligent failure to provide heat, which is covered in another section.
Some states only allow for one remedy, while others allow tenants to use several remedies together.
|Withhold Rent||California, Colorado, Florida, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Vermont|
|Move Out/Terminate Lease||Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, Washington, D.C.,|
|Contact Inspector||Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Washington, Washington, D.C.|
|Pursue Legal Action||California, Colorado, Georgia, Maine, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, Washington, D.C.|
|Repair & Deduct From Rent (i.e. sealing up holes, etc.)||Arizona, California, Colorado, Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington|
Withholding rent is always a risky proposition, as several states allow landlords to evict tenants for failure to pay rent and the tenant must prove in court why they were justified in not paying their rent, so we recommend seeking legal counsel before pursuing this option.
The following states prohibit landlords from renting properties known to contain bedbugs:
- Arizona (multi-family units only)
In addition, some states prescribe how long landlords have to treat bedbugs and offer additional remedies for tenants living with a bedbug infestation.
Connecticut landlords must treat bedbugs within five days or pay the tenant $250 or the tenant’s actual damages, whichever is greater.
In Maine, landlords have 10 days to treat the unit for bedbugs or pay the tenant $250 or actual damages, whichever is greater.
In New Hampshire, tenants can withhold rent until the issue is treated, or sue their landlord.