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

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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

Answers:

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

Answered 10 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.


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