Property managers: Is debugging the owner or tenant's responsibility?
2 September 2017

Property managers: Is debugging the owner or tenant’s responsibility?

Scuttling in the dark, creepy crawlies and jumping fleas – it’s like something in a horror movie. And finding these unwelcome lodgers moving into and around your home is just the pits. Baxton Property Management in Hobart helps stamp out the issue of who’s responsible for pest control in your rental home.

It’s scary out there!

When considering the problem of pest control, we are not looking at the odd nomad spider which ducks in out of the rain. Many forms of vermin might make known their presence and their intention to stay and multiply, during your rental term in Tasmania. These include fleas, cockroaches, spiders, rats and mice, ants, bees and wasps, white ants and even snakes and possums.

If you happen to be one of those unlucky ones who has a phobia about those eight-legged creepies on your wall, or jump on a chair when a field mouse visits, the issue of pest control can be very serious. And there are not that many who can tolerate snakes and cockroaches.

Why are these pests bugging you?

Basically, the responsibility for getting these creepy invaders out of your home (and we are not looking at that weirdo from down the street) depends on why they are there. Do you have pets? Well, there’s a good chance they brought in the fleas and even some ticks. Do you leave uncovered food open in the kitchen? Perhaps that’s why those scuttling cockroaches have taken up residence. But it could be that they are swarming in from the drainage system.

Aside from the odd mouse or rat the cat might have brought in as a gift to you, it’s unlikely that you have “invited” those sorts of bigger beasties into your home. And a snake? Perhaps there is a woodpile outside, or a compost heap sweating in the garden, filled with tasty treats for these vermin, or a bag of seed in the garden shed.

So who carries responsibility for controlling these pests?

Some tenancy agreements in Australia include a clause placing responsibility on the tenant for pest control. It’s worth noting and negotiating on that clause should it be there.

Going legal doesn’t really provide a verdict. Australian legislation isn’t really clear on the subject, at all. In broad terms, it states that: A tenant is responsible for keeping the property clean. A property owner, or the property management acting on the owner’s behalf, is required to maintain the property in a safe state of repair that is fit for the tenant to inhabit.

Advice from the Tenants’ Union of Tasmania is that “Pest infestations that are not the fault of the tenant are a landlord/agent responsibility.”

In terms of the Consumer Affairs and Fair Trading legislation, the situation is also attributed to fault finding.  If repairs are necessary to prevent vermin from entering the premises – like fixing a gaping hole in the wall just under the kitchen sink, then it’s over to the landlord to repair the damage.

However, if it’s the way the tenant lives, the landlord can call the shots as far as sorting out the pest issue goes. This would be the case if rubbish isn’t disposed of regularly, or food is not stored correctly.

What can you do regarding pest control?

  • Check your tenancy agreement to see whether there is a clause governing the issue. If there is such a clause, make sure it fits within the legal delegation of responsibility.
  • Be very alert to the presence of pests when you move in. This includes when you do your first inspection, and during the first few days (and nights) of occupancy. Enquire as to whether the previous tenant had pets. It can take time for fleas to hatch. Make sure any evidence of pests is included on your inspection report.
  • Report any pest invasion that occurs during your tenancy to the owner or your property manager. If the fumigations or other treatments are to be used, and you are concerned about the safety of the materials used, feel free to discuss it with the property manager or owner. You any request that environmentally-friendly and non-toxic chemicals are used. However, that’s more likely to be agreed to if you pay the difference in cost.
  • If the pests become a safety issue, you can receive assistance from the Environmental Health Officer at your local council.

Baxton Property Management in Hobart provides information on issues and trends that are important to property investors, owners and tenants. Visit the website for further tips and hints.



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We hope you enjoyed this article

The information contained in this article is based on the authors opinion only and is of a general nature which is not indicative of future results or events and does not consider your personal situation or particular needs. Professional advice should always be sought relevant to your circumstances.

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