Wjat to do if my apartment building is infested with Pharoah ants and I’m getting the run around with the landlord and the property manager?

They continue to bring in exterminator after exterminator for “estimates” and the landlord says he has to talk to the property manger. I suspect that they are waiting for my lease to be up in 5 weeks and for me to move out. These ants are vicious; they bite and are in everyroom of my apartment. My food is sealed and I clean all the time just trying to keep them out but I worry for the health of my family. Is there anything that I can do?

Asked on September 25, 2012 under Real Estate Law, Oregon


S.L,. Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

In every lease there is an implied warranty of habitability which requires the landlord to maintain the premises in a habitable condition by complying with local and state housing codes.  When there is a breach of the implied warranty of habitability, the tenant notifies the landlord as you have done and the landlord is required to respond within a reasonable time by making the necessary repairs.  When the landlord fails to respond within a reasonable time, the tenant has the following options:  The tenant can make the repairs (call an exterminator) and deduct the cost from the rent or the tenant can move out and terminate the obligation to pay rent for the balance of the term of the lease or if the tenant stays on the premises, the tenant can withhold rent and defend against eviction.  Another alternative is to file a lawsuit for breach of the implied warranty of habitability against the landlord.  You can also contact your local housing code inspector, who can bring an enforcement action against the landlord.  The ant infestation is a health hazard which constitutes a breach of the implied warranty of habitability.

Since your lease is up in five weeks, if you are planning on moving at that time, these remedies for breach of the implied warranty of habitability might not be feasible; however, you still might want to contact the local housing code inspector.  You also might want to consider moving before your lease is up and terminating the obligation to pay rent for the balance of the term of the lease even though you only have five weeks remaining on your lease.

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