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My renter says he has a mouse problem; is it my responsibility as landlord to pay for extermination because he is dirty?

Chantilly, VA |

My renter just notified me that he has recently seen evidence of and caught several mice. The house is in good shape, i.e. no cracks in the foundation or walls, no damaged doors or windows that would allow pests to get inside and no previous renters have ever complained about mice. I have however noticed, during a few house calls for minor repairs to appliances, a general lack of cleanliness on this tenants' part. For example, dirty dishes, half cooked/half eaten food left in multiple rooms/floors, over flowing trash cans, piles of dirty clothes, etc.
Baring any physical damage to the structure itself that I would obviously be responsible to repair, should I have to pay for an exterminator due to this tenants' lack of cleanliness? The lease does not specifically address pest problems.

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Attorney answers 1


Depending on the law that governs your lease, which in turn depends on the type of lease and a couple other factors (you didn't mention) , a LL is response to take steps to handle pest infestations. If a LL could tie the infestation to the tenant--not merely claim that dirty dishes equals mice--the LL could then pursue the tenant for the fees. A LL in such a situation COULD be liable to the tenant for failing to act and COULD be held accountable for damages and the tenant COULD terminate the lease (would need to be a pretty well documented and extreme case).

NOT LEGAL ADVICE. FOR EDUCATION AND INFORMATION ONLY. Mr. Rafter is licensed to practice in the Commonwealth of Virginia and the US Federal Courts in Virginia. There is no implied or actual attorney-client relationship arising from this education exchange. You should speak with an attorney licensed in your state, to whom you have provided all the facts before you take steps that may impact your legal rights. Mr. Rafter is under no obligation to answer subsequent emails or phone calls related to this matter.

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