Who is responsible for the pest control in a rental property? This is the question that usually lingers in the minds of most tenants experiencing issues with pests in their dwelling. Whose obligation is it? The tenant’s or the landlord’s? Unfortunately, the RTA does not specify which party should be responsible for pest control, leaving landlords and tenants with the freedom to reach an agreement about their obligations by themselves or amongst themselves.
To help you come up with a reasonable arrangement, let us take into account the general obligations of each party.
The Lessor’s Obligation
The primary obligation of the lessor is to provide the tenant with a property that is clean and fit to live in, at the same time, giving regard for the safety and health of the tenant. When it comes to pest control, the lessor is expected to provide a dwelling that is free from pests by making sure that routine inspections are performed and pest control treatments are done as necessary. It is customarily considered best practice for lessors to conduct an annual general pest control treatment.
The Tenant’s Obligation
Keeping the property clean and making sure not to cause any damages to the property during the tenancy is the tenant’s obligation. It is then an expectation and the responsibility of the tenant to not do anything that is likely to cause or attract pests and vermin and must take responsibility to pay for pest control when their actions caused the property to be exposed to pests. In cases where the tenant has a pet in the property, then they are expected to pay for a flea treatment upon vacating.
Putting Everything in Writing
When the lessor first appoints their managing agent, it is best that they state what they agree to in the terms of the Form 6. Also, it would be wise to clearly state the tenant’s obligations in the Form 18a Tenancy Agreement. This is necessary in order to prevent disputes from arising due to miscommunication. You should be aware that the RTRA Act contains no black and white answers to issues relating to pest control.
Property Occupations Form 6 from Realworks, within the Essential Terms and Conditions, section 4 Client Obligations says:
4.14 To have the property treated for pests as required (no more than annually) at the Client’s cost
Form 18A General Tenancy Agreement from Realworks, within the Special Terms, Care of the Premises by the Tenant says:
46(1)(e) keep the premises free from pests and vermin And 46(2) (a) iv) if birds or animals have been kept at the premises, to pay for the premises to be fumigated and deodorised by a professional fumigator
If a dispute arises due to who should be held responsible for a particular pest problem, the first thing that needs to be done is to find out the root cause of the problem.
If the cause of the particular problem is purely environmental or related to the weather, then it would be the lessor’s responsibility. However, if the tenant has not been meeting their obligations, and their actions (or lack of it) have ultimately led to the issue, then it is them that should shoulder the cost of the pest control.