Landlords and tenants are equally likely at some stage to wonder who is responsible for the eradication of pests in a rental home. Tenants wonder if the responsibility lies with them, or whether the landlord should take action to remove any vermin.

Fortunately, there is clear information from NSW Fair Trading on responsibilities for controlling and removing pests. A summary of this information is as follows.

When is the tenant responsible for pest control?​

According to NSW Fair Trading, the tenant is usually responsible for the eradication of pests if the infestation occurs after the tenant has moved in and if the infestation was caused by the tenant’s activities or lack of cleanliness.

As an example, if the rental property had been leased for several months before a breakout of cockroaches occurs, it is typically the tenant who is responsible to pay for pest control services to remove them.

If a tenant believes the infestation was not caused by their activities or lack of cleanliness, the tenant must show that:

  1. The landlord is in breach of the tenancy agreement e.g. by not offering the property in a clean and safe condition at the start of the tenancy, and
  2. That this breach caused the pest problem

When is the landlord responsible for pest control?

As suggested from the above, the landlord is responsible for the removal of pests if the infestation is evident at the start of the tenancy. The landlord’s obligations include provision of the property in a reasonable state of cleanliness which is fit to be lived in by the tenant. If there are pest problems at the start of the tenancy, it is the landlord’s responsibility to deal with the matter.

It is therefore very important that tenants clearly record any evidence of pests in the condition report at the start of the tenancy, so there is documentation around the state of the property on commencement. Signs of cockroach droppings, fleas, etc. should be noted on the condition report and discussed with your property manager to ensure the matter is dealt with.

A tenant can ask that the landlord engage a pest control service to deal with the pests if there is evidence seen at the start of the tenancy. If the landlord then fails to agree to or carry out an agreed pest control treatment, the tenant may argue that the landlord is in breach of the agreement and appeal to NSW Fair Trading for dispute resolution.

General guide to landlord and tenant pest control responsibilities in NSW

​NSW Fair Trading has produced a guide to the general responsibilities of each party in the removal of pests in a rental property. These should be used as a guide only as the actual responsibility will be influenced by the history of the rental property and documentation of the state of the property at the start of and during the tenancy.

Pets and vermin Landlord’s responsibility Tenant’s responsibility
Ants – If present at that start of the tenancy – If present during the tenancy
Bees and wasps – If present in a wall cavity or similar

– If present at the start of the tenancy

– If present during the tenancy
Birds – To remove and seal off any entry points
Cockroaches, fleas and spiders – If present at the start of the tenancy – If present during the tenancy
Mice and rats – If present at the start of the tenancy – If present during the tenancy
Possums – To remove and seal off any entry points
Snakes – If present at the start of the tenancy

– If casuse by the landlord breaching the conditions of the agreement. E.g. landlord left piles of rubbish in garden

– If present during the tenancy
Termites/white ants – At the start and throughout the tenancy

 

Carnelian Property Management is a family-owned business offering expert rental property management across Newcastle and Lake Macquarie. Their highly accessible & personal approach has delighted Newcastle and Lake Macquarie property investors since 2011.