What are my rights if I moved into a rental home and the landlord failed to mention that it was infested with brown recluse spiders?

UPDATED: Jul 28, 2015

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What are my rights if I moved into a rental home and the landlord failed to mention that it was infested with brown recluse spiders?

The lease says its my responsibility to spray. However, I have multiple times but the spiders keep getting larger in size and number though. What rights do I have? The rental had been abandoned prior to my moving in.

Asked on July 28, 2015 under Real Estate Law, Missouri


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 7 years ago | Contributor

If the lease did not make it your responsibility, it would be the landlord's responsibility. But in signing a lease saying that you must spray, you most likely assumed responsibility for keeping the home pest free. (Though to be certain of your obligations, bring the lease to an attorney to review with you; leases are contracts, and like any contracts, are governed by their specific language or terms.)

IF the landlord knew or reasonably must have known (i.e. any reasonable landlord in your landlord's position would have known, in those circumstances) about the infestation but knowing it, withheld that important information, he may have committed fraud. If he did commit fraud, then you may have grounds to rescind the lease (void or undo it; i.e. get out of the lease) or seek monetary compensation. However, the problem for you, based on what you write, is that if the rental "had been abandoned" prior to you moving in, then the landlord may not have had any reason to know of the infestation--and if he did not know, is not liable (since not knowing, he did not lie, misrepresent, or otherwise commit fraud). It would certainly seem to be difficult to prove landlord knowledge of an infestation in an abandoned home.

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