Is Landlord Responsible for Pest Control? Apt Pest Control Laws By State

Georgette Kilgore headshot, wearing 8 Billion Trees shirt with forest in the background.Written by Georgette Kilgore

Pest Control | November 10, 2023

Two people pointing at each other and wondering is landlord responsible for pest control while bugs climb the walls and the tenant asks will my landlord have to pay for pest control costs and who pays rental pest extermination service?

If you notice an increase in pests around your rental property, it is natural to ask, is landlord responsible for pest control?

In a rental situation, determining responsibility for the infestation and its resolution is often a point of contention. This will depend on a few things including state laws, your lease agreement, and your type of rental property.

Of course all parties involved (tenants and landlords) should be attentive to the pest situation on the property.

Ideally everyone would work together to avoid and prevent insects from taking up residence, but if that doesn’t work, resolve any potential issues without having to wonder is landlord responsible for pest control?

However, someone usually has to foot the bill, and in such cases it is imperative to determine what is attracting these pests. Have they been crawling all over the house before tenants moved in or is it their own actions which is causing the problem?

This article should not be taken as legal or financial advice, but will outline the general standards of obligation with pest control and explain the answer to the question, is my landlord responsible to removing pests?

Is Landlord Responsible for Pest Control: Who Is Responsible for Pest Control When Renting?

Sometimes, the cause and liability for a pest problem can be unclear. Nevertheless, when asking “is landlord responsible for pest control?” the answer is typically yes, as it’s usually the landlord’s duty to make sure their property is free of pests and livable.

This means that they will have to take necessary steps and make sure that the property is free of infestation before renting, and in most cases to resolve any issues that may arise.

However, it is the tenants obligation to keep the property in good condition and to notify the landlord immediately if they are experiencing an infestation problem. Moreover, sometimes, like with bed bugs, the tenant brings them into the home, and in those cases, the tenant may be responsible (and liable) for removing them.

Graphic highlighting the landlord's responsibility for pest control, emphasizing the warranty of habitability and showcasing a a man spraying pesticide near a house with visible pests.

Once the tenant informs the landlord of the problem, the landlord cannot ignore them. They will have to communicate and take steps to remove pests from the property.

These steps can include paying tenants for pest control,5 or conducting maintenance on the property such as sealing foundation or installing fence, to address the problem.

If the landlord suspects that it is their tenant’s fault, they will have to keep a record of any previous complaints and history of pest infestation on the premises. The proof should be well documented so that it can be used to present a justifiable case for passing financial responsibility.

After visiting the house, a landlord might feel that the pest infestation is due to a tenant’s actions or negligence. If this is the case, then the landlord will have to collect evidence such as pictures, statements, and other reasons representing their negligence towards the issue.

In most scenarios, a reasonable conversation should be enough to convince tenants to take responsibility and cover any cost for extermination and pest control.

Sometimes though things can get messy and the issue will have to be resolved in court. This can be a drawn-out process and will take some time to settle.

The landlord will likely pay for the initial pest control and seek reimbursement later if the case is settled in their favor.

For example, if a landlord visits a property and sees that the tenant is into apartment gardening or indoor gardening but has been completely neglecting it, allowing it to fill up and overgrow with rotting plants and fruits and vegetables, this could be what attracts pests like cockroaches.

In this case he could have cause to pass a claim for payment to the tenant. That’s why it is so important to keep your rental space maintained in good condition, indoors and outdoors.

On the other hand, if landlords are unresponsive to the pest control issue in their rental, the tenants are within their rights to take immediate action and deal with the issue themselves rather than waiting for the situation to get out of control.

In this scenario, the tenants are also within their rights if they decide to hold the rent as the landlord is not ready to timely deal with the issue. Delaying with pest control can cause serious damage to the property and the health of people who are living in the house.

Rats, rodents, and roaches make the place extremely unhygienic. They can also attack food items in the kitchen and make it inedible.

In addition to food damage, they also damage the property by digging holes and chewing on electric wiring. This will cost you more in the long run and cause bigger and even irreparable damages.

To ensure that this doesn’t happen, the landlord and tenants should work together and cooperate with each other to come to a common conclusion without wondering is tenant or is landlord responsible for pest control? At the end of the day, the party responsible for pest control depends on communication, lease agreement, and state laws.1

Pest Control Apartment Laws

What are some more specific factors which determine liability?

In almost all states, landlords are held responsible for renting out pest-free homes and keeping those homes that they have already rented remain pest-free. This means that it is also a landlord’s responsibility to check in on the property at least once every month.

Landlords should visit the property and make sure that everything is clean and pest-free. If they do not and the situation gets out of hand resulting in damage to the property, they can be considered liable for their inattentiveness and lack of interest in the property’s and neighbor’s well-being.

A woman in a business suit holding a tablet, conducting an apartment pest control inspection in a room with furniture wrapped in plastic, adjacent to expansive glass doors.


If pests are found, they must be swiftly eradicated using methods that have been approved and pose no threat to human health.

So if you are renting out an apartment, it is your duty as a landlord to keep a check on things.

On the other hand, if you are living in a rental apartment, you should keep the place clean and make sure that pests are not attracted by your actions or perhaps, inactions. Otherwise, you might also have to face a lawsuit and a court case.

Is Landlord Responsible for Pest Control: Apartment Pest Control Laws by State

While you are renting out an apartment, and when determining, “is landlord responsible for pest control,” it is essential to pay attention to the implied warranty of habitability.6 This is a common law stating that homeowners and landlords must provide tenants with a safe and livable home.

This implies that the person renting out the apartment must first take the necessary steps to get rid of all the previously infesting pests that have taken hold of the house. According to this law, landlords are not legally and morally allowed to rent out their house if it is infested by roaches, rats, bugs,7 rodents, or other house pests that may cause harm to tenants’ health, wealth, and emotional well-being.

Hence, most states cover the implied warranty of habitability which holds landlords entirely responsible for pest control. However, these rules and regulations may change depending on where you live.

For instance, currently, Arkansas is the only state not having the implied warranty of habitability in place. This means that landlords in Arkansas aren’t legally bound or obligated to control pest infestation on rental property.

Besides Arkansas, almost every other state has strict rules regarding pest control and the landlord’s responsibility for keeping things in check. States like California,8 Alabama, and Alaska, all have strict rules and policies that landlords must abide by or risk facing a lawsuit.

So if you live in any of these states, it is important to keep in mind that you as a landlord are responsible for any pest control cost according to the implied warranty of habitability which is already mentioned in most tenancy agreements and lease contracts.

Idaho is another state that gives tenants the power to file a lawsuit against their landlord for risking their health and not taking steps to remove pests from the property.

However, almost all of these states allow landlords to present a well-documented and reasonable case depicting that despite their regular checks and attention, tenants’ activities and lack of attention caused a persistent pest problem. In this case, the court might hold tenants responsible for the issue and they will have to pay for pest control and extermination.

States like Arizona have different legal acts pertaining to different types of rental property, for example standard rental housing versus mobile home parks.2

Landlord Pest Control Responsibility: Do Landlords Pay for Pest Control?

Most landlord insurance doesn’t cover pest control and extermination costs. Therefore, yes, landlords are legally obliged to pay for pest control as well as any property damage caused by pest infestation.

Once tenants report a pest problem, landlords should take immediate action to visit the apartment and evaluate the severity of the condition.

A worker in a reflective vest kneeling down and inspecting a floor air vent while holding a clipboard in one hand.

(Image: RDNE Stock project15)

In addition to this, they should also take complete responsibility and make efforts to get rid of invasive pets crawling all over their house. It might be true that tenants are living in the house, but it is still the landlords’ property, and maintaining it is also their responsibility.

Here are a few things that landlords should do as their responsibility if their tenants report a pest infestation:

Visit the Property

Before landlords agree to pay for anything, it is important that they visit the property and see for themselves if the report is true and accurate. By doing this, landlords will be able to understand the severity of the issue, determine affected areas in the house, and assess the impact that has already been caused.

By visiting the property, the landlords can also estimate how much an exterminator costs for mice, rodents, or other pests.

All in all, as a landlord, if you get a call reporting pest infestation, your very first step should be to see the situation firsthand, and make sure that the complaint is reasonable and well within their rights.

Speak With Tenants

Ideally, there should be a conversation and a friendly agreement between the landlord and the tenants before taking any steps.

For instance, if you are planning to call an exterminator, tenants should be given enough time to temporarily move to a friend’s or a relative’s house for a day or two until the job is done. However, if it doesn’t fit their schedule, the landlord might have to reschedule the extermination for another day.

This applies to both landlords and tenants which means that if the landlord is not available on a particular day, the two parties will have to agree to schedule it for some other day. Simply put, both sides will have to cooperate and be on the same page to get rid of the pest problem.

Landlords can also take suggestions from their tenants about what might be causing the problem and where the rats and rodents might be coming from. For all these reasons and more, it is important to have a conversation and agree on a few important things before contacting pest control.

Pay for Traps and Baits

In addition to covering the extermination cost, landlords should also pay for traps and bait.9

Buy good quality humane traps that tenants can set around the house to capture rodents and mice.

A chocolate bar placed on a wooden mousetrap against a white background.

(Image: Mi-Ka18)

Sometimes trapping with bait can get expensive. It is usually considered fair that the landlord pays for traps and then helps tenants set these outside the house.

Install Fencing

Fencing around the property can be important to keep pests from entering your backyard garden and eventually your house. Since rodents and groundhogs can climb moderately high fences, make sure that you are installing at least 8-inch deep and four-foot high fences all around the property.

You can also use repellents, sprinklers, and exclusion devices in lawns to keep these pesky pests from entering your house. When tenants report pests, it is important to ask them where these might be coming from.

Usually, these pests dig tiny entrances in your house walls and around the gates which becomes their daily route to come and go from your house. Make sure that you repair all of these holes and entrances so that the rats and rodents cannot enter the house.

Repair Property Damages

Another thing that landlords should do is pay for any damages that have already been caused by these pesky pests. For instance, pests destroy furniture, cupboards, wardrobes, and house wiring.

As a landlord, it is your responsibility to repair house wiring, walls, wardrobes, and furniture.

However, if it is determined that tenants are liable for pest control, these responsibilities may change a little bit but won’t completely vanish.

Here is what a landlord should do if tenants are responsible for the damage as well as the pest infestation.3

1. Check the Rental Lease Agreement

It is imperative for both tenants and landlords to check the lease agreement if something like this happens.10 Most rental agreements have a pest control clause which highlights potential issues around pest infestation on the property.

These laws are added to the agreement by landlords, so it is important that tenants read them before signing the lease document. This clause should also highlight how tenants are expected to deal with the issue if they are determined to be liable.

The agreement usually specifies that pest management is the landlord’s obligation because it is required by law in most jurisdictions, but it will also likely include provisions that specify when the renter is accountable especially if it can be shown that the renter was the one who attracted the pests.

Close-up of a hand holding a silver pen, signing a document on a wooden table.

(Image: andibreit19)

For instance by failing to maintain clean and sanitary premises, it can be stated that the tenant is accountable.

The lease agreement can additionally include that the renter must promptly notify the landlord of any bug problems. It could serve as a reminder that landlords have a duty to do thorough routine pest inspections of the property.

The agreement must mention that the tenant should consent to the action with a minimum amount of notice and with the understanding that the chemicals will not be harmful to occupants and that the home will remain habitable if the landlord intends to use chemical treatments to deal with pests. The best option is to ensure the use of an eco-friendly treatment with all the proper precautions.

Rental agreements should include the landlord’s obligations to the tenant in the event that the house becomes uninhabitable due to pest problems including eradication measures. For instance, the landlord may provide the renter with temporary lodging.

2. Protect Investment

It is the landlord’s responsibility to protect his or her investment by doing routine checks. Landlords shouldn’t leave seasonal pest control entirely in their tenant’s hands.

After conducting pest control measures, it is important to follow up with preventive treatments to make sure that it doesn’t happen again. Talk to your tenants about cleanliness and regular pest checks.

Landlords can hire a property manager to talk with tenants about pest control and how it should be handled.

3. Document the Cause

As mentioned, the renter might be required to pay for pest control if the landlord can prove that the tenant caused the infestation.

This may be accomplished by scheduling a rental inspection and providing the renter with adequate advance notice. Capture images of any conditions that might lead to pest issues and accompany them with tiny house bugs pictures and names for clarity.

A landlord may decide to talk to the renter about their responsibility for pest-related costs after reviewing this evidence. It can be essential to settle the disagreement at the local court if the renter contests their obligation to pay the expense.

How Long Does a Landlord Have To Fix a Rodent Problem?

Obviously it is imperative that steps are taken to resolve infestation problems in a timely manner, as the situation can worsen if swift actions are not taken either by the tenant or the landlord.

First thing first; if a tenant notices rodents crawling around the house, they should contact the landlord and inform him about the situation. It is then the landlord’s responsibility to either pay for pest control or arrange an exterminator.

The length of time within which the landlord has to respond depends on the type of infestation and state laws. However, there is always a certain time limit in which the landlord has to deal with the issue and call an exterminator.

For instance, in New York, landlords have almost ninety days to deal with non-hazardous pests.

On the other hand, in the case of hazardous pests like bed bugs, they have less than 30 days to address the issue and get rid of it. If we talk about rodents and roaches, the time limit is even shorter since the landlord will only have 21 days to address the issue and get in touch with the tenant about treatment and extermination.4

Is Landlord Responsible for Pest Control: Common Pest in House

A common question that people often ask is if the type of pest infestation contributes to pest control. A lot of states have specific rules about different types of pests like roaches, bed bugs, and rodents.

Although these rules may vary from state to state, the type of pests can impact the decision of whose responsibility it is to take care of the issue. It would help to conduct a research on tiny house bugs pictures and names to familiarize yourself with all pests that might infest your abode.

Bed Bugs

Right off the bat, bed bugs. These are considered among some of the most dangerous household pests.

These are nocturnal insects that feed on human blood.

Needless to say, these pests can cause serious health issues for the tenants.

Besides this, beg bugs are common and can be hard to eliminate once you get an infestation. This is why landlords are required by law to remove bed bugs from rental units.

A close-up of a bed bug crawling on human skin surrounded by fine hairs.

(Image: Jiří Humpolíček17)

In fact, almost 21 states including Florida, New York, and Maine have strict and specific rules regarding bed bugs in rental apartments and houses. According to these laws, landlords are responsible for pest control regardless of how much a bed bug exterminator costs.

It is often explicitly stated in the tenancy agreements that landlords will cover any charges if the house becomes infested with bed bugs. The reason why there are such extreme rules regarding these blood-sucking bugs is that they spread pretty quickly.

It can also be challenging for landlords to document the cause since they are not caused by uncleanliness but are rather transmitted from house to house through people, furniture, and clothes which makes it harder to pinpoint which tenants caused the spread.

  • How To Get Rid of Bed Bugs

Well, bed bugs as their name suggests, usually take refuge inside your sofas, curtains, and beddings. The simplest way to prevent infestation is by vacuuming regularly.

Make sure that you are thoroughly vacuuming the insides of your sofa and the sides of your bed cover.

Another thing that efficiently kills bed bugs is hot water. Wash your clothing, bed sheets, and curtains in hot water and dry them on the highest dryer setting.

Also, it would be wise to remove extra cushions and stuffed toys from your house until the situation is under control.

Bear in mind that bed bugs can spread quickly and fast. This is why it is important to know when the situation gets out of control.

If not treated in a timely manner, bed bugs can become a nuisance taking hold of your furniture, wardrobes, and curtains.

In case you decide that chemical treatment is necessary, you will likely have to contact your landlord and arrange a temporary evacuation from the apartment as pest control requires the use of harmful insecticides like Pyrethrins and Pyrethroid.


Cockroaches are another common pest that easily infests rental properties.11 However, they are a little different from bed bugs.

Cockroaches are often attracted by uncleanliness. This is the reason why tenants can also be responsible for getting rid of roaches.

In a lot of states, landlords can document the case and provide proof of tenant’s activities that might be attracting cockroaches. Roaches can be extremely harmful to your health, too.

A close-up of a cockroach on a white textured surface, displaying its detailed body and legs.

(Image: Nicholas_Demetriades16)

They will constantly attack food items in kitchens and make your food inedible. In addition to this, roaches can also infect washrooms spreading bacteria all over the house and making people sick.

  • How To Get Rid of Roaches

Cockroach infestation is one of the most persistent pest problems faced by tenants. To get rid of these pests, it is extremely crucial to take care of cleanliness.

Ensure that you are not leaving any food out that might attract the roaches. It is in their nature to be attracted to dirty things.

So, if you are keeping your kitchens, washrooms, and bedrooms dirty, you are bound to face a cockroach infestation.

Another thing that you can do to make sure that it doesn’t happen is cover all the drains from where the roaches might be crawling out into the house. Just make the house less inviting for them by clearing out food messes and taking the trash out at the end of the day.2

If you are looking for something to kill roaches instantly, then you can use a mixture of dish washing soap and water. Put the mixture in a spray bottle, give it a good shake, and spray on roaches from above.

Glue traps are also very effective in killing and getting rid of cockroaches. Stepping on them is also a simple and effective solution!

Other Pests

The law is pretty much the same as it is for bed bugs and roaches. This means that in most cases, landlords are responsible according to the implied warranty of habitability for exterminating any other pests from the rental unit.12

If they don’t do it, tenants can withhold their rent and even file a lawsuit against them. Out of these common house pests, rats are maybe the most troublesome.

They can cause a lot of property damage, as they are actually extremely smart creatures with a great sense of smell.

This makes them aware of traps which in turn, makes them extremely hard to kill or catch. Rats will chew on your house wiring, furniture, and clothes.

  • How To Get Rid of Rats

Besides extermination, there are a lot of ways you can use to get rid of rats and rodents.

Firstly, rats, just like cockroaches, are attracted to filthy places. So make sure that you are keeping your house as well as your yard clean.

A small brown rodent, a common pest in house, foraging among scattered food debris on the ground.

(Image: DSD14)

Ensure that there isn’t a lot of clutter and garbage outside your house. Check your vents and check that they are sealed so that rats won’t be able to infiltrate the house through these entries.

Before you sleep, remove all the food sources from exposed surfaces. You can also introduce some predators into the environment.

Get a cat and see if this will work in chasing the rats away from your property. H-traps are also effective, however, you will have to be extremely smart about how you are setting out these traps.

Make sure that you leave the trap out in the sun to get rid of the new smell, and wear gloves to remove your smell from the trap as well.

You can use both snap traps and electronic traps to catch the rats.

A lot of electronic traps have a shock feature which makes the rats immobile as soon as they enter the trap. Snap traps will usually catch them without killing them.

Pest infestations can be frustrating and sometimes costly. This is why there are state rules and implied warranties of habitability that require landlords to provide tenants with a livable pest-free house.

While pest control is the landlord’s responsibility, tenants are also obligated to inform homeowners about the issue on time. Through mutual cooperation, the problem can be solved by simply arranging an exterminator and taking responsibility according to the state laws and tenancy agreements.

Hopefully the question, is landlord responsible for pest control, won’t have to be taken up in court and all parties will do their part to resolve the problem.4

Frequently Asked Questions About Is Landlord Responsible for Pest Control

Who Is Responsible for Pest Control?

This can vary based on your state, rental agreement, and the cause of the problem. However, more often, the landlord is considered liable for an infestation.

What Are the Laws on Pest Control?

These vary by state, but the most important thing to remember is the “Warranty of Habitability.” It means that the landlord is required to keep the property habitable and this usually includes an obligation to deal with pests.

How Do I Get Rid of Pests?

There are many ways, however, it is recommended to research and attempt natural solutions before calling an exterminator. Exterminators are expensive and will often use toxic chemicals in the house which pose their own health risks.


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