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By Melanie Krieps Mergen
Updated on Aug 1, 2022
Reviewed by Melanie Reiff, Staff Editor.
In most cases, landlords are responsible for pest control, but it might depend on the local landlord-tenant laws and the details of your lease agreement. You as the tenant may be responsible for pest control expenses if an infestation was caused by your negligence.
Whether it’s bed bugs, roaches, or rodents, the last thing you want to discover in your apartment is something creepy and crawly! But how do you go about eradicating your unwanted roommates? And if you need an exterminator, who covers the bill: you (the tenant) or your landlord?
Here with those answers and more is Jerry, the super app that helps you save on auto and renters insurance.
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Tenants’ rights: are landlords responsible for pest control?
Are landlords responsible for exterminators? Whether your landlord has an obligation to address a pest control problem in your rental might depend on applicable landlord-tenant laws at both the state and city level where you live.
Generally, landlords are obligated to provide you with housing that is safe and habitable, and they must fix problems that would expose you to health and safety hazards—which many infestations do present.
However, who is responsible for what can vary from state to state. In Virginia, for example, a pest problem is considered a joint responsibility between the landlord and the tenant but still primarily the landlord’s responsibility.
In this case, the tenant should keep their rental home in a state that generally wouldn’t encourage pests, and they should notify their landlord as soon as possible when pests are present. The landlord, in turn, should address the problem promptly and provide proper notice if an insecticide or pesticide needs to be used.
Meanwhile, in New York City, landlords have 30 days to address a bed bug infestation for a tenant and should help them with moving furniture or clearing away clutter if they need it. They’re also required to use a pest management professional.
It’s also possible that whether you rent an apartment or single-family home could affect who’s responsible for taking care of pest control.
In addition to reviewing landlord-tenant laws, you’ll want to refer to your lease agreement that you signed to review what it says about how pest control should be handled. It also helps to verify that what’s included in that lease agreement doesn’t contradict the existing laws where you live.
What tenants should do if pests are found
How you respond to a pest infestation in your rental matters for the sake of your health—and for legal reasons.
A good landlord will want to address a pest problem properly and quickly for two reasons: to keep your rental a safe place to live and to protect their investment in the property. That said, some are more cooperative than others.
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Properly documenting communications with your landlord could potentially save you from having to foot the bill for an exterminator yourself. The same goes for notifying your landlord about necessary repairs (in writing!), like a leak under your sink, which could create moist conditions and eventually lead to an infestation.
If you’ve found pests in your rental, here are some steps you’ll want to take:
- Refer to local landlord-tenant laws and your lease agreement: See what they say about pest control, verify that your landlord’s requirements don’t conflict with existing laws, and proceed as necessary.
- Notify your landlord: Document the problem, when you notified your landlord and how they responded, as well as any damage to your personal property. In some areas, laws might require they hire a professional pest removal service right away, while others might allow landlords to try to remove pests themselves first.
- Take action if your landlord has not: If your pest problem is out of control and your landlord is being uncooperative, you may need to take matters into your own hands (even if circumstances show it’s not your obligation). If you end up paying for an exterminator when your landlord was supposed to, you may be able to withhold rent, break your lease early without penalty, or in an extreme situation, recoup exterminator costs in small claims court.
- Notify your insurance provider if you need to make a claim: Unfortunately, most standard renters insurance policies don’t provide coverage for pest infestations, but it’s worth reviewing your own policy or checking with your provider to make sure.
Pro Tip Landlord-tenant laws can be complicated and subject to change, so don’t hesitate to seek out legal counsel if you need to for your situation.
Why is pest control important?
Depending on the type of creature involved, a pest infestation can pose serious health risks to tenants and their guests and can damage the property of both the landlord and the tenant.
Addressing a pest problem promptly and properly keeps a rental unit habitable, so it’s in the best interest of both parties to do so.
How to avoid a pest infestation
The cheapest way to avoid a pest infestation is to prevent one from happening in the first place. While there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to avoiding every kind of pest, if you’re worried about one in particular, research the conditions that attract that species, then take precautions to limit those conditions in your home.
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Here are some general tips that can help you avoid common pest infestations:
- Promptly report problems that need repair, like leaks or structural issues, to your landlord
- Keep human and pet food in sealed, chew-proof containers
- Don’t let leftover food or dirty dishes sit out for long
- Keep your home free of excess clutter
- Dust, sweep, and vacuum regularly
- Take out trash regularly and keep it in a pest-proof bin
- Especially in warm, humid climates, keep your home at cooler temperatures and consider using a dehumidifier (many insects prefer warm, moist environments)
Does renters insurance cover pest infestations?
Getting a pest infestation under control isn’t always cheap. Depending on the extent of the problem, hiring an exterminator and other cleanup measures could cost anywhere from several hundred dollars to several thousand.
But who pays for pest control after an infestation? Are landlords responsible for exterminators?
In most cases, a landlord will be responsible for paying for pest control and resulting rental property damage due to a pest infestation with their own funds or insurance.
However, if it was determined the pest infestation was caused by your negligence as a tenant, you might be on the hook for paying for repairs. This could happen if you’ve been regularly leaving out unsealed food, trash, or piles of dirty dishes that attracted pests, or if there was a noticeable structural problem with the rental you didn’t notify your landlord about.
Unfortunately, a standard renters insurance policy doesn’t usually cover pest infestations. That’s because, whether your pest problem was preventable or not, most providers typically consider pest infestations a preventable situation.
In some cases, however, you might be able to add certain protections from pests like bed bugs to your insurance as an add-on, so it could be worth asking your provider about.
Pro Tip Knowing what your renters insurance policy does and doesn’t cover—and under what circumstances—can help protect you from rude awakenings when an unexpected disaster occurs.
Finding affordable home and renters insurance
While it might be hard to find insurance coverage for pest control, there are plenty more disasters you’ll want protection from as a renter or homeowner, like water, smoke, or fire damage. Without the right coverage in place, you could be on the hook for thousands of dollars if your personal property is destroyed.
With the Jerry app, finding the right amount of coverage at the right price is easier than ever. It only takes about a minute to answer a few quick questions and start reviewing customized quotes from top insurance providers.
Once you find an option that works for you, Jerry’s end-to-end support helps you make a seamless transition to your new policy. (For additional savings, we can help you bundle with your car insurance policy, too!)
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Does renters insurance cover pest infestations?
You’ll want to review your own policy’s language to be sure, but unfortunately, a standard renters insurance policy doesn’t usually cover pest infestations.
Are landlords responsible for exterminators?
Whether your landlord is responsible for paying for exterminators depends on landlord-tenant laws where you live as well as what your lease agreement says about pest infestations and how they should be addressed.
In most cases, landlords are usually responsible for paying for exterminators. However, a landlord might be responsible for covering the bills themselves if it’s determined that their negligence allowed the infestation to happen.