Last Updated on October 21, 2023 by Kelvin Nielsen
Pests are pretty common in California. The state’s diverse landscape and the mild climate make California a haven for pests. As such, it’s no wonder renters find themselves asking “are landlords responsible for pest control in California?”
If you came here looking to find an answer to that question, you are at the right place. Read on to learn more!
Under the California landlord pest control laws, landlords are indeed responsible for pest control. State law (CA Civil Code 1940-1954.06) requires that landlords keep their rental properties free of pests.
Landlords must also take the necessary steps to prevent pests from entering their tenant’s rented unit in the first place.
The following are answers to commonly asked questions on the topic.
Are Landlords Responsible for Pest Control in California?
The California “Implied Warranty of Habitability” requires landlords to provide a habitable living space. Among other things, this legal requirement requires that landlords provide and maintain a pest-free unit.
As per the California landlord pest control laws, you can only hold a landlord liable for pest control in the following scenarios.
#1: The pest infestation is caused by the property’s condition.
Gaps, cracks, and holes in the wall or the foundation can allow pests to enter your home. In such a case, you may be able to hold the landlord liable for the pest control.
Apart from structural issues, failure by your landlord to repair leaks on time can also attract certain pests into your home. Pests like rats and cockroaches are particularly attracted to damp areas.
#2: The pest infestation existed before the tenant moved in.
As a renter, you are not responsible for repairing a pest infestation that existed before you moved in. That is the landlord’s responsibility.
You can only become responsible if the issue arose during the term of the tenancy and caused by your negligent actions.
#3: If pests are causing damage to the property.
Pests can cause damage to a property, both structurally and cosmetically. Termites can eat away at the structure, causing it to weaken and even lead to its eventual collapse. Ants can cause unsightly holes in walls by easting the soft, inner part of the wood. Rats and mice can chew through wires and cables.
The list goes on and on…
In such cases, the cost of fixing the pest damage would solely befall the landlord’s.
#4: If the landlord fails to respond to a repair or maintenance issue causing the pest infestation.
A pest infestation in a home may arise from a variety of sources, including poor maintenance. Clogged gutters, unkempt landscaping, roof leaks, leaky plumbing, and cracks in the foundation can all lead to pest infestations.
If you notify the landlord of such issues and they fail to respond on time and that leads to a pest infestation, the responsibility for pest control would squarely lie with them.
California landlords have a duty to respond to requested maintenance issues within 30 days.
When Are Tenants Responsible for Pest Control in California?
Under California landlord pest control laws, a tenant may also become responsible for pest control if the pest problem arises from their negligent actions.
You may become liable for pest control in the following circumstances.
- If you bring the pests into the property. For instance, if you bring in infested food or furniture.
- If you fail to take reasonable steps to prevent pests, such as by sealing left-over food.
- If you cause damage that provides an ingress point for pests into the property.
- If you fail to report maintenance issues on time, for instance, a leaky faucet.
- If you fail to keep your yard clean and free of debris.
- If you fail to repair any holes in screens or doors. (Here is a guide on landlord responsibility to provide screens in California).
How Long Does A Landlord Have To Fix Something In California?
A landlord in California has 30 days to fix an issue that impacts a tenant’s health or safety. This includes a pest infestation issue.
Once you learn of a pest infestation problem in your home, you should immediately contact the landlord for remedy. The following are the steps you should take.
- Document the infestation by taking pictures or videos.
- Notify the landlord of the infestation. This must be in writing.
- Allow the landlord up to 30 days to fix the infestation. How soon the landlord fixes the issue will depend on the severity of the problem.
If the landlord acts quickly, great! However, if they don’t, then you may be able to exercise a few legal options due to the tenant becoming uninhabitable. (Here is a guide on what constitutes uninhabitable conditions in California).
Is the Landlord Responsible for Bed Bugs in California?
Yes! Under the California landlord pest control laws, a landlord is responsible for bed bugs.
But while a landlord is generally responsible for keeping bed bugs away, a few exceptions to this rule exist. As a tenant, you may become responsible for paying the extermination costs if the problem arises from your careless actions.
For instance, if you carry them into the apartment from a neighboring unit or results from your poor hygiene practices.
But generally speaking, landlords, more often than not, end up footing the extermination bill. Also, it isn’t uncommon for landlords to pay for the tenant’s relocation costs in properties with multiple rental units.
Are Landlords Responsible for Ants in California?
Yes. As per California landlord pest control laws, landlords have a duty to provide their tenants with safe and habitable living conditions. And since ants can tamper with a unit’s habitability, it therefore becomes the landlord’s responsibility to keep them out.
But just like other forms of pest infestations, a tenant may also be liable for pest control in certain circumstances. For example, if you fail to keep the property clean and safe. Or, if the infestation occurs after you have moved into that property.
For the best outcome, always notify your landlord of a pest infestation as soon as you notice it. Document the infestation and send them a proper written notice.
California landlord pest control laws require landlords to provide habitable rental premises that are free of pests, such as termites, ants, roaches, and mice. The responsibility to fix a pest infestation depends on the cause of the problem.
Generally, a landlord is liable if the issue arises from structural issues, was there before the tenant moved in, or arises from a lack of prompt maintenance. Tenants may also become liable if the issue arises from their negligent actions or failure to report the issue to the landlord on time.
Disclosure: The content herein isn’t a substitute for advice from a professional attorney. It’s only meant to serve educational purposes. If you have a specific question, kindly seek expert attorney services.
Hi, I’m Kelvin Nielsen, an experienced landlord and accomplished real estate lawyer. My focus is on answering your questions about renting in the hopes of making your life as a renter or a landlord a bit easier.