If we have a rat infestation problem at the home we are renting, is there anything that we can do?

UPDATED: Sep 14, 2011

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If we have a rat infestation problem at the home we are renting, is there anything that we can do?

We also have 2 small twin babies that were just born. We have contacted the landlord about this. He sent 2 people out to get price estimates. This is all that has been done for us. Meanwhile we are very tidy and neat people and have rats running around our home the size of cats. We have a 12 month lease and have been leasing for the past 7 months. We cannot live like this and wait on this man to make deals with the cheapest exterminator. Is there anything we can do?

Asked on September 14, 2011 under Real Estate Law, Michigan


M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

Every  tenant has the right to what is known as the "warranty of habitability".  This is a guarantee implied in every residential lease and gives a tenant the right to live in a safe and clean premises.  Consequently, for a rat infestation problem you can:

  • Repair and deduct - fix the problem and then charge your landlord for reimbursement; 
  • Withhold Rent - withhold any further rental payments until the heat is restored; or
  • Terminate your lease - choose to end your tenancy and move. 

You need to be aware, however, before attempting any of these remedies you first need to speak with a lawyer.  If you fail to follow the proper procedures for pursuing any of these self-help measures you could be held financially liable. 

You should consult with an attorney that specializes in landlord-tenant matters. Depending on your income, you could also ask Legal Aid for assistance or the state/county bar association.  Additionally, a law school clinic (if there is one in your area) might also be of help. In the meantime, you can contact the Health Department and report this situation.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although AttorneyPages.com has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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