PEST CONTROL – Who Is Responsible?

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The terminology ‘pest control’ can cover many different types of pest and vermin, such as:

Fleas, Cockroaches, Ants, Spiders (i.e. redbacks), Rats & Mice, Snakes & Possums, Bees & Wasps, White ants.

All of these pests and vermin at some stage may become evident in rental properties… So who is responsible for pest control? In many States the legislation relating to pest control can be very unclear and is often open to interpretation. There are also many local councils who enforce health and safety by-laws for residential property owners to undertake pest control on an annual basis for pest and vermin, namely cockroaches. A tenant is responsible for keeping the property clean, while the owner is responsible for maintaining the property in a safe state of repair, fit for the tenant to reside.

The only pest that is clearly the tenant’s responsibility are fleas. The presence of fleas is a result of the tenant owning a pet that is not directly related to the maintenance of the property. When a tenant vacates the property it is a condition of their tenancy agreement to undertake flea treatment control. All other pests would most often become the responsibility of the property owner, with the exception of it being clearly proven that the presence of the pest was caused from the tenant’s lack of cleanliness or poor house-keeping. If the tenant was not disposing of perishable rubbish or was undertaking activities that increased the presence of pests it could be argued that it is a tenant responsibility.

As your managing agent we appreciate that many of the listed pests can be eradicated by simple supermarket products, such as insect spray, baits and traps. However, as the property owner it is your responsibility to have the property treated for pests as required, no more than annually.

Pest Control Summary

Cockroaches can be treated under a 12 month warranty. Ants are a difficult pest to eradicate and would only pose a concern if they were harmful. Spiders can be treated under a 12 month warranty and should be actioned quickly if the spider is harmful i.e. redbacks. Rats & mice can be treated with baits. It is important to eradicate these pests as they can cause serious damage to appliances and internal electrical wiring, costing far more than the treatment cost. Snakes can be a scary animal to remove. Possums can also be a nuisance pest if they start nesting in the roof, which can result in property damage. Wildlife specialists are the best point of contact to assist in removing these from the property. Bees & Wasps can become aggressive and dangerous if their nest is in danger. The treatment of bees and wasps is a concern if the tenant is allergic to them. White ant activity in a rental property should be checked at least annually by the owner.

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