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Pest Control Tips for Apartment Tenants

There has been an increasing trend for apartments in major Australian cities.

According to the ABS, 5,901 more units were built in the fourth quarter of 2016 in comparison to the previous quarter.  There are no signs of this ‘apartment boom’ slowing down in the near future, so tenants need to be aware of and take an active part in their own pest-control responsibilities.

The difference between apartment pests and household pests:

Despite the structural differences of houses and apartments, there is no significant difference between apartment pests and household pests. Unfortunately, ants, rodents, cockroaches and spiders are found across all types of residential properties as they are predominantly attracted to food sources.

Is pest control the responsibility of the tenant or landlord?

A common question is whether organising pest control treatments is your responsibility or does it lie with the landlord. External areas of your apartment block (courtyard, hallway, entryway, etc.) are the landlord’s sole responsibility, whereas the internal area (your unit) is the tenant’s responsibility.

However, the responsibility differs according to the type of pest found in or around your unit and may vary in each state and territory. For example, according to NSW Fair Trading, the tenant is responsible for pest control, the pest has surfaced several months after moving in. This will apply for ants, bees, wasps, cockroaches, fleas, spiders, mice/rats and snakes.

If you can prove you didn’t cause the pest invasion, your landlord is obliged to organise the appropriate pest control measures. In the case of termites, birds and possums, the landlord is fully responsible for the removal and treatment.  For more information, visit the NSW Fair Trading Pests and vermin page.

So, what can you do to keep pests out of your apartment?

Pest Control Tips for Apartments:

  1. Kitchen cleanliness – we recommend:
  • Not leaving dishes in the sink overnight
  • Wiping down counters, sweeping the floor and cleaning kitchen appliances (e.g. inside the toaster, oven, microwave etc.)
  • Mopping at least once a week, without ignoring the space under the fridge
  • Occasionally cleaning inside cupboards and the pantry
  1. Rubbish and clutter – we recommend:
  • Taking out the trash every night
  • Throwing away cardboard boxes and other unnecessary loose papers
  • Remove old and unused items (i.e. clothes, papers) and storing what you’re keeping in airtight containers
  1. Moisture zones – we recommend checking for:
  • Leaky faucets and taps
  • Sweaty pipes

Finally, ensure that your landlord is doing their part to keep your building clean. Ensure that bins are being put out every week, and the bin room is regularly cleaned. In addition, request heavy vegetation is trimmed away from the exterior of building (limits access for rodents and ants).

Pest Control Tips for Apartment Renters 

Apartment projects are constantly thriving and will increase in the coming years, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS). Recent figures show that newly built apartment units (28,527) outnumber residential houses (28,102) in December 2016 – where 5,901 units were built in the same year.

With the growing demand for apartment living, the need for pest control procedures, especially in Melbourne, is conforming.

Make Pest Inspection a Priority

It won’t matter to bed bugs or cockroaches whether you live in a big or small apartment. Pests such as ants, spiders, termites and rodents may appear regardless of the structural condition of what you consider your home.

Both homeowners and tenants have the same problem when it comes to eliminating pests around the property. They conduct a thorough inspection to ensure that they are safe and live comfortably at home. However, renters are often faced with a dilemma as to when landlords take responsibility for inspection and pest control treatment.

Who’s responsible for pest control procedures?

Renters from NSW are held accountable if certain pests occur during their tenancy. Lack of cleaning can cause pests such as cockroaches to appear. Also, if you have pets on the property, there’s a possibility that fleas can make their home in your apartment.

Another triggering factor is the food source. As an example, rodents get attracted by grains, nuts and any other types they may find edible. This explains the need for regular rental cleaning to either drive them away or prevent infestation.

However, if the infestation occurs before moving into your apartment, landlords take responsibility for the work. Their duty becomes clear if pests are present before the tenancy period.

Before getting a professional service, it’s safe to consider your leasing agreement in terms of pest control procedures and your local council’s regulations to help safeguard your health and finances. It’s also best to study the NSW Fair Trading guide to know the terms and conditions followed by the State.

What You Can Do

Whether you’re new to your rented home or planning to transfer to a better unit, you can make your life easier if you keep the property properly maintained. Here are some of pest control and prevention tips to check:

1. Keep moisture at bay.

Moist is what most pests love. Pests such as silverfish, cockroaches and insects are easily attracted to damp areas. Termites also get allured in warm and moist areas. In fact, 1 in 3 houses in NSW are infested with these pests according to research.

Before getting bummed about eliminating them, one of the first things to check is your plumbing system. Are there apparent signs of pipe leaks and dripping water taps? Make sure to do quick repairs on these aspects to minimise the presence of these pests. It’s also good to inspect your ventilation and insulation status to maintain the air quality around the property.

2. Clean and declutter.

Silverfish love the taste of stored papers and cardboard boxes. Cockroaches play with dust found in the garbage and rarely disturbed areas.

Giving your temporary home a comprehensive clean, especially this Spring is one way to control these pests from invading the property.

Throwing out some of your old, valued possessions may not be favourable, but if they contribute to giving some pests an access to your belongings, it would be best to dispose of them. This goes for unused items that you don’t need.

Discipline yourself also when it comes to disposing of your rubbish. Hire a skip bin if you must and if the situation requires it.

3. Use sealed containers for food.

Food crumbs can attract pests such as cockroaches and rodents. Likewise, unsealed food source can become their target.

It’s best to store food in a container to lessen the risk of having them in your rented property. As a basic rule, make sure to regularly:

  • Wipe the benchtop and splashback.
  • Remove food from sinkholes.
  • Wash the dishes after use.
  • Sweep and mop the floor.
  1. Seal gaps and crevices.

Cracks and crevices are a nesting home for some pests. In some cases, they become an entry point for pests like snakes. It’s safe to cover these holes to block their entry points and keep them outside the property.

You may clarify with your landlord if you can make any alterations around the property to know the scope of your responsibility and restriction.

Pest Control Experts to the Rescue

When you’ve done your part, and the infestation recurs, it’s safe to ask for professional assistance to give a thorough pest inspection using highly innovative pest detectors. Not only are they able to identify the cause but also resolve the issue in no time. Don’t forget to check their reliability and experience when it comes to pest control management. You can get feedback from other tenants and property owners to weigh the level of their expertise.

As you plan, it’s good to get your landlord’s approval to avoid future misunderstandings. It can also help in giving the unit the right treatment it needs. Paying attention to your pest control duties shows that you value your rented property.

Looking for a professional who does pest control in Melbourne? Make sure to contact your local service provider to inspect the unit to manage the pests within the premises.

Who is responsible for pest control: landlord or tenants?

Some tenants have been able to negotiate reductions in the amount of rent they pay, and they’ve been protected from the threat of eviction amid various government moratoriums aimed at protecting their rights, should they have been negatively impacted by the economic fallout of the health crisis.

But while some conditions may have changed, many remain the same, including the right for both tenants and landlords to enjoy a home free of pest infestation, if the cause isn’t of their own making.

Determining who is responsible for pest control is a common problem for tenants and landlords, with no legislation unambiguously stating which party is obligated to fix the issue when an outbreak occurs.

If you are a tenant, it is important to report a serious pest issue promptly and consistently keep your property in good condition to limit an outbreak’s chances. Meanwhile, if you are a landlord, whether you’re managing the property yourself or you’ve got a property manager, you must ensure all pest problems are under control before you put your rental property on the market.

In the rare event that an issue arises mid-lease, both parties need to negotiate with one another in an open, considerate manner and act quickly, to prevent the problem from getting out of control.

Common pests

Depending on where you live, pests and vermin may become an issue for your property.

The most common creepy crawlies are:

  • cockroaches
  • ants
  • rats
  • mice
  • wasps
  • spiders
  • snakes
  • termites
  • possums.

Are pests covered in your lease agreement?

If you are having a problem with an infestation or outbreak, your first port of call is your tenancy agreement (lease).

In some cases, the lease will clearly define whose responsibility a pest issue is.

This is often the case if pets are on the premises, as tenants will be required to fumigate for fleas under the contract.

Before signing a lease, a tenant should inspect the property, and have a clause put into the agreement to protect themselves if they suspect there is a problem.

Tenant responsibility for unwanted pests

Generally, as a tenant, you are required to take steps to make sure an infestation does not occur. This includes keeping a premises clean and addressing a pest presence early.

It is recommended you store food properly, clear cobwebs, set mouse traps, and use sprays and baits.

However, if the situation is bad and you suspect it existed before you moved in, contact your landlord and property manager immediately. If your landlord expects you to deal with the issue, consult your state tenant authority first for advice.

Be wary of calling in an exterminator before speaking with the owner, as they may refuse to reimburse the expense later on.

Remember, too, that you must take the necessary steps to remove all creepy-crawlies if you are moving out.

Common pest scenarios tenants are responsible for include:

  • removing ants, cockroaches or spiders during the tenancy
  • clearing bees and wasps if they begin building a nest after you have moved in
  • safely dealing with a snake if one is found in the house or backyard.

A landlord’s responsibility for pest control

If you own a property and you know there are ongoing pest issues, the onus is on you to protect the premises and the tenant.

The best safeguard is to have the rental inspected and any pests eradicated before the property is rented. Doing so will mean you are less likely to be held responsible if a pest infestation does later occur.

However, less common pest issues such as possums and termites are usually the property owner’s responsibility.

It is also essential to consider adding pest clauses into your lease agreement if your renter has pets, to ensure fumigation at the end of the contract.

Common pest scenarios landlords are responsible for include:

  • when ants, bees, wasps, cockroaches, fleas, bedbugs or vermin are present in large numbers before a tenant moves in
  • when birds or possums are nesting in the house or causing damage to the outside of the property
  • termites are the responsibility of a landlord, no matter when the outbreak occurs.

How to deal with a pest dispute in your rental home

Negotiation is the first step to find an outcome that suits all, and during the early stages, action can often be taken to tackle the issue. In extreme cases where you cannot come to a resolution, either party can apply to the appropriate state tribunal for a ruling.

Steps to take if a dispute arises:

1. Communicate with your landlord or property manager early

Set up a meeting or call with your property manager or landlord to talk through the issue. Doing this will set the scene for a good working relationship.

Keeping emails and making notes of any verbal discussions can also help down the track if you’re asked specific times and dates of when things happened.

2. Take photos of the problem

Document the pest control issue with photographs. Doing this on a smartphone will also enable you to keep records of dates and times of when issues arise.

3. Ask the relevant government bodies for help if needed

Contact the tenancy tribunal in your state if you need further guidance – they’re a great source of information and won’t cost you anything.

So, in summary, when it comes to the pest issue, tenants should take care of the property, and landlords should ensure a rental is pest-free before they rent it out.

It’s worth noting that pest control is a normal part of renting and should be addressed quickly to avoid outbreaks, regardless of who discovers the problem.

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