A landlord's responsibility to manage pests

As a landlord, you want to do right by your tenants. Keeping a property investment well maintained and attractive means happier renters and a shorter turnover when tenants decide to move out. One issue that can occasionally plague rental properties is the matter of invasive pests.

Nobody wants to live in a home with a sudden infestation of roaches, spiders, rats or worse. Unfortunately, tenants are not always on the ball when it comes to reporting these issues. Oftentimes landlords will have no idea one of their properties has a pest problem until the invaders have already set up a nest.

Exterminators are very costly, often charging hundreds of dollars for one-time visits. The cost of multiple visits adds up quickly, and the labor of an infestation assessment, locating the hive or lair, identifying and repairing entry points and other considerations means household pests can easily drive a landlord into the red.

Fortunately for anyone with rental property in Georgia, unless your lease agreement specifically notes that the landlord will manage pest infestations, pest control is most likely not the landlord's responsibility. The landlord is not entirely off the hook, though.

As a landlord you are required to keep a rental property in good repair. Depending on the type of pest and the extent of infestation, you may be required to intervene. If, for example, termites have badly damaged the structural integrity of a staircase, you will most likely need to enlist an exterminator.

Likewise, you will also need to take local health codes into consideration. An infestation of rats is likely to contribute to a health code violation. If that happens to be the case, the responsibility of clearing the infestation would most likely fall to you.

Pest problems start small but when left unattended they can destroy a property. If you do nothing about a sudden influx of pests, the law will most likely be on your side, though tenants are not likely to want to live in an infested home for very long. You may consider trying to curry good favor by providing tenants with rodent traps or insecticide. Reputation and goodwill can be equally important for a business owner as their bottom line.

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