Are ants in a tenant's house the tenant's responsibility?
Ants and bugs present health hazards and damage homes, so call your landlord or property manager immediately if you suspect an infestation. If the infestation is not caused by your own behaviour, your landlord is responsible for the costs of the extermination. However, if your poor housekeeping caused or contributed to the ant problem, removing them may be your responsibility.
Landlords are almost always required by law to keep their rental properties clean, safe and in good repair. If an ant infestation exists in a rental property, the landlord is responsible for correcting the problem. This may mean hiring an exterminator or having a maintenance person address the problem.
While landlords are responsible for maintaining their properties, landlord-tenant laws require tenants to do their part in keeping their homes clean and in good repair. If your landlord can prove that you caused the ant problem by not keeping your home clean or leaving food out, she may not be responsible for eliminating the ants. You may have to hire an exterminator on your own, or the landlord may hire an exterminator and then send you the bill. In addition, if your negligence exacerbated the infestation or the ants caused serious damage to your home or building, you may be subject to eviction and legal action.
Begin to document the situation to prevent an accusation from your landlord that you caused the ant problem. Take pictures of various parts of your home, such as cabinets and pantries, to show that your food is sealed and your home is clean. Your landlord or property manager will want to inspect your home before the exterminator comes out, so be sure to cooperate with their request for an inspection. If you anticipate difficulty with your landlord, you may wish to ask a professional exterminator to come out and offer his professional opinion as to whether you are the cause of the ants.
Check your local landlord-tenant law if you are not responsible for the ant infestation and yet your landlord refuses to take action. These laws usually provide you with recourse against a negligent landlord. For example, you may be able to hire an exterminator and then deduct the costs from your rent. You may be able to withhold rent until your landlord fixes the problem. You may also be able to break the lease and find a new place to live. You should not attempt to do any of these, however until you have verified the law with a lawyer. Legal aid societies and tenant unions often have lawyers on staff who can advise you for a small fee, or even for free. Another option is to see if your landlord is willing to enter into mediation, which keeps you both out of court.
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