Is it the landlord’s responibility to take care of pest control?

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Is it the landlord’s responibility to take care of pest control?

I recently found 3 small snakes in my apartment and I have been battling roaches and other bugs. The manager won’t call an exterminator. He did tell me that the door seal on my front door needed to be replaced and that was as far as it went. I have a small child and this is not healthy for him. Unfortunately I do not have the finances to move somewhere else.

Asked on April 3, 2012 under Real Estate Law, Texas

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

There is something called the "implied warranty of habitability," which is the obligation put on landlords to ensure that their rental premises are fit for their intended purpose--in this case, residence. Conditions that affect health, hygiene, or safety can violate this warranty, and among such conditions are pest infestations. Landlords are obligated to take reasonable steps to deal with pests (e.g bring in exterminators to deal with known situations). If the warranty is violated and the landlord does not take action, the tenant may be entitled to one or more of the following:

1) monetary compensation;

2) to fix the problem (hire the exterminator) him/herself and deduct the cost from rent;

3) a court order directing the landlord to correct the poroblem; and/or

4) to terminate the lease and move out without penalty.

It would be best if you retained a lawyer to help you, rather than tried to take action yourself, since taking action the wrong way (for example, hiring your own exterminator, if the condition was not serious enough to warrant doing so, or you did not provide proper notice to the landlord) can result in you being liable to the landlord; it is important to get legal assistance. If you cannot afford a landlord, try contacting Legal Services--they may be able to help you. Good luck.


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