What are my rights as a tenant regarding an ant infestation?

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What are my rights as a tenant regarding an ant infestation?

We have a major ant infestation in the home we are renting. We noticed an trap after we moved in and tried several of our own traps and remedies to no avail. When we requested our landlord pay for an exterminator they said it’s a known problem and would not cover that cost. What rights do I have?

Asked on February 16, 2012 under Real Estate Law, Pennsylvania

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

It doesn't matter whether it was a "known" problem if the condition is bad enough. All rental premises come with what's known as the "implied warranty of habitabitilty." This is the requirement, implicitly added to every lease, that the rental property be fit for its intended purposes. Minor problems do not violate this warranty, but ones which affect habitability, such as by making it unsafe or unhygienic to inhabit the space, could violate this warranty. When the warranty is violated, the tenant may have grounds to sue for monetary compensation, seek a court order requiring the landlord to fix the problem, or even--in extreme cases--terminate the lease without penalty.

Of course, to enforce your rights under this warranty, not only must the condition be very serious--serious enough as to affect habitability--but also, you would have to take legal action if the landlord will not voluntarily comply. Given that legal action could cost more (in terms of disruption, time, and stress, as well as monetarily) than hiring an exterminator, this could be a situation where even if you are legally in the right, you are better off paying yourself.


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