If you are responsible for paying for pest control, can you break a lease if there is a bad roach problem in your duplex?

UPDATED: May 28, 2011

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If you are responsible for paying for pest control, can you break a lease if there is a bad roach problem in your duplex?

We moved in and noticed right away that there was a very bad roach problem. Our lease provides that we are responsible for paying for pest control. We bombed and sprayed; nothing worked. I contacted the manager telling her we couldn’t get the bugs to go away because they are coming from our neighbor’s connected wall. I have a month old child and do not want her in this environment. The manager understood and had someone spray both sides (it didn’t stop the infestation). When the exterminator told her he would have to come out several times to stop the problem. She said they cannot afford it. I saw a dead roach in our fridge. What can we do?

Asked on May 28, 2011 under Real Estate Law, Texas


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

As a general matter, all leases have what is called an "implied warranty of habitability," which is a term added (or "implied") to leases that the premises rented are habitable and fit for their intended purpose. In residential leases, this typically includes pest control, and the landlord is usually responisble for making sure there are no infestations. You, however, maneiton that your lease provides that you are responsible for paying for pest control, which complicates the usual analysis: it is allowed for the parties to a lease to contract to shift the cost or responsbility of services like this to the tenant. You may have enforceable rights, to require pest control, but based on the term you list, it is not definite or certain; you should bring the lease to an employment attorney who can evaluate it and your rights in detail. Good luck.

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