Are Landlords Responsible for Pest Control in PA

By Daniel Stoner on June 6, 2024

If you’re a renter in Pennsylvania and discover a pest infestation, you might be wondering who’s responsible for taking care of the problem—you or your landlord. The answer depends on a few factors, but this article will break down the key points of Pennsylvania tenant law and pest control to help you determine who should foot the bill.

The Legal Obligations of Landlords in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania law guarantees tenants the right to live in a safe and habitable rental unit. This includes ensuring the property is free from pest infestations that may affect health or safety. If you discover a roach colony or a family of mice upon move-in, it is your landlord’s responsibility to take action. They must eliminate the existing pests and take steps to prevent future infestations. This could involve hiring a professional exterminator or making necessary repairs to seal entry points that allowed the pests in.

Landlord giving keys

Types of Pests Commonly Found in Rental Properties

In Pennsylvania rentals, you might encounter a variety of unwelcome guests. Here are some of the most common pests that can turn your apartment into a living nightmare:

  • Rodents: Mice and rats are notorious for squeezing through tiny cracks and seeking shelter indoors, especially during colder months. They can spread diseases and contaminate food.
  • Cockroaches: These creepy crawlies love warm, humid places like kitchens and bathrooms. Not only are they unpleasant to look at, but they can also be a major health hazard.
  • Termites: These silent destroyers can wreak havoc on the structure of rental properties, feeding on wood, flooring, and furniture. Termites can go unnoticed for long periods, causing extensive damage before being detected.
  • Bed Bugs: These blood-sucking insects hitch a ride on luggage or clothing and infest mattresses, furniture, and bed frames. Their bites can be itchy and irritating.
  • Ants: While some ant species are mostly harmless, they can become a nuisance if they find a steady food source in your kitchen. They can also leave trails and potentially damage your property.

Depending on the location of your rental, you might also encounter spiders, centipedes, millipedes, or even wasps and mosquitos.

Landlord Responsibilities in Pest Prevention and Addressing Infestations

Pennsylvania law requires landlords to be proactive in pest control. Landlords are responsible for:

Maintaining a Pest-Free Environment

Your landlord shoulders pest control responsibility. They must regularly inspect the property and seal potential entry points for pests. This includes patching cracks, fixing damaged screens, and ensuring proper waste disposal. They should also address any moisture problems that could attract unwanted critters.

Responding Promptly to Your Reports

If you discover a cockroach colony or hear nighttime rodent activity, don’t hesitate to notify your landlord in writing. Pennsylvania law requires them to respond to your complaint promptly and take steps to eliminate the infestation. 

Hiring a Professional Exterminator

For most infestations, especially severe ones, your landlord is responsible for hiring a licensed pest control company. The specific treatment plan will depend on the type of pest, but the goal is to eliminate the existing problem and prevent its return.

Preventive Measures: Seasonal Pest Treatments

Landlords may also be responsible for ongoing preventative measures to stop future infestations. This could include scheduling seasonal pest control treatments, providing traps for specific pests like mice, or maintaining trash disposal areas.

Rat in house

A Tenant’s Responsibility in Maintaining a Pest-Free Environment

As a tenant in Pennsylvania, you play a huge role in ensuring that your rental property remains free from pest infestations. Your key responsibilities include:

Maintaining Cleanliness

A clean apartment is less inviting to pests. Regularly take out trash, avoid leaving food scraps lying around, and promptly clean up spills. Use proper food storage containers and keep your pantry and cabinets organized to prevent attracting unwanted visitors.

Proper Waste Disposal

Don’t let overflowing trash cans become a buffet for pests. Ensure your trash bags are tightly sealed before placing them in designated bins. Avoid putting food scraps down the drain that could attract pests.

Preventive Measures

Take proactive steps to prevent pest infestations. Seal cracks and crevices around windows, doors, and baseboards to prevent pests from entering your home. Store food in airtight containers, keep pet food sealed, and regularly clean areas prone to spills or crumbs.

Storing Belongings Properly

Avoid leaving clutter piled up, especially near walls or corners. This can create hiding spots for pests. Store boxes and belongings in sealed containers, especially if it has been a while since they were last used.

Communicating with Your Landlord

Be proactive! If you see any signs of pests, like droppings or strange smells, notify your landlord immediately in writing. The sooner you report the issue, the faster it can be addressed and prevent a full-blown infestation.

By working together, tenants and landlords can create a pest-free environment for a more enjoyable living experience.

Options for Renters When Experiencing Pest Problems

When you encounter pest problems in your Pennsylvania rental property, it’s important to take immediate action to address the issue. Here are your options:

Document the Issue

Keep a record of your communications with the landlord regarding the pest problem. Take photos or videos of the pests and any damage they’ve caused. This documentation can help if the problem persists and further action is needed.

Notify Your Landlord

Your next step should be to inform your landlord about the pest problem. Provide details about the type of pests, the extent of the infestation, and any actions you’ve already taken. Prompt notification allows your landlord to address the issue quickly and effectively.

Consider Self-Help Options

If the infestation is minor and you’re comfortable handling it yourself, you may purchase over-the-counter pest control products. However, always inform your landlord of your actions and save receipts for any expenses incurred.

Seek Legal Advice

In cases where the pest problem remains unresolved, consider seeking legal advice. A skilled landlord and tenant lawyer can help you understand your options, including withholding rent, breaking the lease, or filing a lawsuit for damages.

Legal Recourse for Tenants When Landlords Fail to Address Pest Issues

If your landlord fails to address pest issues in your Pennsylvania rental property, you have several legal options to protect your rights. First, report the problem to local health or housing authorities. They can inspect your unit and compel the landlord to take action if the property is deemed uninhabitable due to pests.

You may also withhold rent if the infestation makes your unit unlivable. This can be a powerful tool, but following legal procedures and providing your landlord with written notice of the problem is important. Additionally, you can choose to terminate your lease agreement without penalty if the pest issue persists and significantly impacts your living conditions.

Document all communications with your landlord and keep evidence of the pest problem, such as photos or videos. This documentation can support your case if you need to take legal action.

For professional legal advice and to ensure your rights are fully protected, contact Stoner Law today. Our experienced attorneys specialize in tenant rights and can help you effectively resolve pest control issues with your landlord. Don’t let pest problems go unaddressed—reach out to Stoner Law for the support you need.

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