What to do if when we moved in our landlord informed us there was bats and bat guano in the attic and he expects my husband to climb up there to clean it out?

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What to do if when we moved in our landlord informed us there was bats and bat guano in the attic and he expects my husband to climb up there to clean it out?

He refuses to have it removed professionally. Can I refuse to pay rent until this is done? He did not inform us until after the lease was signed.

Asked on September 28, 2012 under Real Estate Law, Wisconsin

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

The landlord is obligated to provide clean and hygienic housing, by the "implied warranty of habitability"--it is the landlord's obligation, not the tenants. You can't withhold rent to force the landlord to clean and remove the bats, but you may be able to pay for extermination and cleaning, then deduct the cost thereof (and no more) from the rent. You may wish to let the landlord know that you will arrange for the cleaning, etc. and deduct the cost from the rent if he will not do so.

Note that an issue is whether or not the bats and guano actually affect health and habitability in this specific case. If they do, you may have recourse, as set forth above; but if they do not actually affect health, you cannot take care of it and charge the landlord.


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