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A discussion about pests.

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Who is responsible for the treatment of pests at a rental property? It may appear the landlord is always responsible, however, this is not the case. Generally speaking, unless there is an infestation at the commencement of a tenancy it is usually the tenant’s responsibility if pests become a problem during the tenancy. In saying this, there are a few pests which remain a landlord responsibility; generally, this is when the pest is inhabiting inside a wall cavity or roof. It is important the landlord removes the pest and seals any entry points as soon as possible.

Ants, mice and cloth moths:

We have recently had a few situations where tenants have been living in a rental property for quite some time and develop issues with an infestation of ants, mice or cloth moths. On the surface, the reaction would be to get the landlord to pay for the eradication of these pests, but let’s look into it further.

• Example 1: An ant infestation came about because the tenants were using a room as a
store room and had boxes stored in there for a few years. They had noticed a few ants in the
kitchen which appeared to be coming from the ceiling. They went and investigated further
and found the ants had in fact built a colony in one of their boxes; because the ants hadn’t
been disturbed the colony went under the house as well. The tenants had to get a pest control
company to eradicate these ants.

• Example 2: A tenant reported an issue with ants when they first moved into the property;
but the pertinent question was “were the ants an infestation?”. The tenant didn’t like ants in their
cupboards so we recommended the application of some ant rid and this fixed the problem.
We would have been happy to send out a pest control company, however, if the situation was
not deemed as an infestation the tenants would have been liable to pay the call-out fee.

• Example 3: Mice! We don’t like them but again – unless they are an infestation at the
beginning of the tenancy or a plague – this is a tenant responsibility. In this example a joint
solution to mice was found: the tenant bought mouse traps and commenced trapping them,
and the landlord laid baits outside (the landlord didn’t have to do this; it was a courtesy). This
was a good resolve, especially given how quickly mice can multiply, and the damage
they can cause to a property if not attended to quickly.

• Example 4: This concerns cloth moths. When conducting a routine inspection, the tenant had
advised us the carpet appeared to have been eaten behind a lounge. We investigated further,
took photos and a pest control company advised us it appeared the issue was with cloth moths.
Cloth moths can breed anytime of the year and can be introduced to the house in many
ways (even on dog food bags). This is a tenant responsibility to eradicate them.

The main point to consider is that if pests are left untreated the problem could become worse.
Rectifying any damage could become costly for the party whose responsibility it was to get rid of
them in the first place.

If You own an investment property and would like peace of mind, contact Lisa Akeroyd from
Barossa Rental Specialists on 0414 335 660 to discuss your rental management strategy.

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