The responsibilities for maintenance on a property, when renting, are not always black and white. Minor maintenance is considered the duty of a tenant – cleaning windows, carpets, small holes in the wall. Major repairs and maintenance need to be reported and actioned by the property manager. So where do pests fall in here? What pests should be taken care of by the tenant, and which pests are the responsibility of the Property Manager, and hence a professional Pest Controller?
There is some confusion when it comes to pest control in rental properties. The legislation on who is responsible is not clear. The Victorian Government is doing its best to clear up this, and many other grey areas of rental responsibilities. Consumer Affairs Victoria is the goto information source for tenants in Victoria.
Another issue is who caused the pests in the first place? Where did they come from and why? Overly messy tenants can attract rats and cockroaches, so why should a Landlord pay for the fault of the tenants?
The premise itself could be riddled with termites. It would hardly be reasonable to assume the tenants attracted them, so the Landlord should be up for the repairs and maintenance, yes?
It is the responsibility of both the tenant and landlord to maintain a premise in a state of reasonable repair. Where the duties differ, well this has landed many a party in front of a tribunal. While many judgements favour the tenants, this is not always the case.
Landlords are responsible for general pest and vermin control. This would include maintaining a regular termite control program, ensuring there are no rats or possums in the roof, bees and wasp nests on the property, and other such pest control activities, especially prior to a tenant moving in.
A tenant should be cleaning the house and eradicating cockroaches, spiders, ants and the like, as part of their property maintenance schedule.
If the behaviour of a tenant can be seen to encourage pests, such as rats or termites- not disposing of food waste properly, or keeping wood for a wood fire, or wood scraps perhaps, then it can be argued that the tenant encouraged the presence of these major pests and should be responsible for the costs of removing them.
This would be an issue for a tribunal.
A premise should be pest free at the time of a lease beginning. Any evidence which shows pests are present in the first few weeks, then it can be argued the premise wasn’t pest free, and the Landlord needs to deal with it.
If, after a few months the tenants report pests, then you look at whether or not the actions of the tenant caused the pest, and if it is their responsibility.
When a Landlord receives a call for pest control, ask yourself – is it worth the time and effort of a VCAT visit? Or is it just easier to call Cannon Pest Management and have the pests taken care of quickly and efficiently?
Call 1300 025 948 and have a conversation with an expert.