I have a rodent problem in my apartment complex. Landlords are unhelpful. What do I do?

Asked almost 3 years ago - Reston, VA

My landlord (office/staff) has been very slow with responding to previous complaints. Now I have to deal with rodents eating their way into my kitchen. After 6 phone calls in 2 days, I was last told that Pest Control would come this Friday (too late) and fix the problem. In the meantime, their maintenance team would go to my apartment and fix whatever holes were made by the rodents. I just got off the phone and they "patched" up holes completely unrelated to the problem at hand (thus completely ignoring my previous details shared to them). Can I stop a rent payment for this? They're not treating my case an an emergency, what do I do? Once again, maintenance will most likely not show up today, and now I have to deal with going a rodent infested home. I need help fast!!!

Attorney answers (1)

  1. Rixon Charles Rafter III

    Contributor Level 20

    Answered . The Virginia Residential Landlord Tenant Act (VRTLA) applies to most apartment complexs in Reston (it sounds like you're in a complex).

    Assuming VRLTA applies--LL has responsibility to act. However, you have responsibility to notify LL in WRITING. If you've not yet done so, dash off a letter immediately. Send it certified mail.

    Know that the law allows LL time to cure the defect before you can justifiably take action.
    A smoke detector would be considered an emergency by the court and would have to be corrected immediately. A mouse/rat/bed bug matter MIGHT be considered an emergency, but most likely would not--LL MIGHT have as much as 30 days to act/eradicate depending on whether health issues are involved.

    You do have the option to withhold rent by establishing an escrow account with the General District Court--your rent would be paid into that account and LL cannot get the money until the court determines he/she has acted properly. However, the court will not let you open that account until you've notified LL in writing and he/she has been given time to act.

    Finally, absent other facts, Friday does not seem unreasonable to my eyes--your post having been made on Wednesday.

    You don't need a lawyer to file the Tenant Assertion--you can do it yourself.

    Attached is a link for the VRLTA-http://www.dhcd.virginia.gov/HomelessnesstoHome...
    Check out the bottom of page 29 (ยง 55-248.25. Landlord's noncompliance as defense to action for possession for nonpayment of rent

    Recommend you:
    (1) write that letter and start the clock ticking
    (2) consider filing tenants assertion IAW sec 55-248.25 if LL fails to act
    (3) if you have damages resulting from LL failure to act, consider negotiating with LL a break on your rent for some period of time--or sue for it if you feel strongly you have significant damage that needs compensation.

    I am licensed in the Commonwealth of Virginia, answering your query and my answer do not create an attorney-client... more

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