Summertime in Anne Arundel County, Maryland is a time for tenants to invite family and friends over to your rental home for barbeques and pool parties.
But what about those they do not invite into your home?
We are talking about those tiny little pests that creep and crawl into your rental property seeking cooler temperatures and a place to set up home.
Yes, we are talking about bugs.
It is important not to brush aside the subject of pest control when it comes to your rental property. Understanding who is responsible for pest control in a rental property, what are considered code violations, and how to maintain a pest free home are all issues every landlord should be knowledgeable about.
Who Is Responsible for Pest Control?
It is not unusual for a rental property to have the occasional pest problem. However, if there was not a clear designation as to who is to be responsible for pest control in the lease, conflicts can arise between the tenant, property management group, and landlord.
Before renting out your Anne Arundel home to a tenant, it is your responsibility as the landlord to provide livable space for occupancy.
Following Maryland’s Minimum Livability Code, you are charged with maintaining suitable living conditions within the property. This includes turning over a pest free property to the tenants you agree to rent your home to. Your home may be deemed unfit for occupancy should it be determined by a code official that the home is vermin or rodent infested. Preventative pest control done on your part while your home is vacant will prevent a lot of issues cropping up after your tenant moves in.
It would seem many states are silent on the matter of who is responsible for pest control after a tenant moves into a rental home. This is why it is wise to address these issues in your lease agreement.
The pest control responsibilities can be delegated in two main ways:
- You agree to hand over a pest-free property and maintain seasonal maintenance or offer quarterly pest control services. Any issues that arise in between those services can be deemed the tenant’s responsibility.
- You agree to hand over a pest-free property leaving all future pest control issues to the tenant.
These are the main ways to handle the responsibility surrounding pest control in your home. So long as you provide a pest-free and livable home for your tenants, it really is up to you how you handle future pest nuisances.
If your tenant contacts you or your property management group about a possible pest problem, it must be taken care of immediately should the responsibility lie with you. Failure to act immediately may result in excessive damage to your home depending on the issue and it may even be cause enough for a tenant to withhold their monthly rent or worse leave the property for good.
As a way to protect yourself, document everything including the first time the tenant contacted you about the infestation and the details regarding the alleged problem. This way, should it end up being neglect on the part of the tenant, you are legally covered.
It is important though, no matter how the pest control issues are worked out, that it is discussed in detail between the two involved parties and is clearly stated in the lease.
This is where your Anne Arundel property management group comes in handy. We specialize in drawing up clear and compliant lease agreements, are on-hand to conduct routine inspections of your property to ensure you your home is being well-maintained, and with our move-in reports, you can rest assured you are turning over a pest free property to your tenants.
Hopefully you never experience a pest infestation so serious that you are violating any county or state codes. However, here is some useful information regarding code violations that you should be aware of, just in case.
The <ahref=”http://aahealth.org/pdf/prop-main-code.pdf” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener”>Anne Arundel County Property Maintenance Code is very clear about pest infestations within rental properties. Owners are responsible for the extermination of any rodents or pests prior to renting their property. As stated earlier, it is your job to maintain a livable home for those you rent your property to.
After a single occupant moves into your property, the responsibility shifts from you to the tenant. It is then tenant that is in charge of keeping the property pest-free while occupying the structure.
One exception, and possible code violation, may be when the structure is defective and is causing the infestation to occur. The landlord must then solve the pest problem.
Prior to renting out your property you may want to consider the overall structure of your home. If it is older and worn and requires upgrades or remodeling, it would be best to take care of that prior to leasing the property.
Lastly, in the instance you own a multiple dwelling unit are you then responsible for the extermination on the premises while your units are occupied.
Please note however, that should you offer to extend pest maintenance services to your tenant during their the length of their lease, regardless of what the above code insists, you may be held responsible for the terms you set forth in your signed lease agreement.
Pest Prevention Tips
There are many things you can do prior to leasing you property to help prevent the infestation of pests from becoming a serious problem:
- Perform general home maintenance, including the sealing of cracks and holes in the outside of the home or at entry points for pipes.
- Creating sufficient ventilation in small enclosed areas such as the attic or basement.
- Repair roofs especially when made of wood as many pests are attracted to deteriorating wood.
- Consider hiring a local pest control company to remove pests from your vacant home and set up a plan to rid your property of the conditions inviting the pests there in the first place.
There are also several things you can educate your tenant when it comes to pest control:
- Trim the landscaping regularly and keep tree branches and shrubbery away from the exterior of the house.
- Follow these tips for getting rid of roaches.
- Routinely bathe your outside animal should you have one, as they often bring in pests on their fur from the yard.
- Always store garbage in sealed containers, preferable away from the house, and dispose of it regularly.
- Store firewood at least 20 feet away from the home and 5 inches off of the ground to discourage pests from making homes in and around the wood.
- Contact your local pest control company for tips on anything pest (and rodent) related since they will be most familiar with common issues around the area.
That is why it is important to enlist your local Anne Arundel, Howard, Montgomery, Prince George’s or Washington DC property management company to draft a solid lease agreement, outlining exactly who is responsible for what when it comes to pest control.