Is my landlord responsible to pay for pest control?

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Is my landlord responsible to pay for pest control?

I just moved from out of state and I am unfamiliar with the landlord/tenant laws in W VA. We noticed that we had a major ant infestation as we unpacked. We tried everything and nothing worked. I notified my landlords on many occasions but all they did was spray the same thing I had already sprayed.  They were so bad that we couldn’t eat at the table or cook as they would run across the cupboards and fall in the food. I was even picking them out of my children’s hair. I finally called an exterminator who told us that we were infested long before I moved in (he’ll put that in writing). What are my rights?

Asked on June 10, 2011 under Real Estate Law, West Virginia

Answers:

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

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

It is the landlord's obligation to pay for pest control.  You can deduct the cost of what you paid the exterminator from the rent.

In every lease there is an implied warranty of habitability which means that the landlord must maintain the premises in a habitable condition in compliance with local and state housing codes.  When the landlord has been given notice of in your case the ant infestation and failed to take care of the problem within a reasonable time, as a tenant you could take the following actions for a breach of the implied warranty of habitability.  As mentioned, you can make the repairs and deduct the cost from the rent.  An alternative would be to move out and terminate your obligation to pay rent for the balance of the term of your lease or if you decide to remain on the premises, withhold rent and defend against eviction.  In your case, the ant infestation constitutes a breach of the implied warranty of habitability because it is a health and safety issue.


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