We have a squirrel in the attic of a town home we are renting. The landlord repairs the holes but won't exterminate.
4 attorney answers
Generally, if rodent infestation exists, the landlord must correct the defect as long as the tenant did not cause the damage. However, I agree with counsel that you should review your lease to see if which party is resonsible for this type of repair. And, you may file a Petition for Rent Escrow if the condition is a health or safety threat and the landlord fails to correct the defect.
All responses I provide on this site are for informational purposes only and are not offered as legal advise. You should consult with an attorney prior to taking any legal action.
Your LL is a sloppy custodian of his own property and is likely in violation of MD state laws insofar as it’s his responsibility to exterminate infestations (notwithstanding his lease agreement).
Document the squirrel’s presence, the communications you had with LL to date, and LL inactivity in writing (letter, certified mail, RRR). Send the LL to the LL. It may come in handy later when you sue LL for damages, rent abatement, health issues, damage to the property or if you have to defend yourself in a suit by the LL attempting to recover damages from the nest of squirrels that will eventually move in.
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The answer to your question will be found in the details of your lease, Maryland landlord tenant statutes or local case precedent. The lease may have assigned the obligation to one or the other. The statutes may impose the obligation exclusively on the landlord, rendering any assignment in the lease to you void and an unfair trade practice. The landlord risks far more than you do. Squirrels are known to do considerable damage to property, including chewing through the walls, floors, and starting electrical fires.
If you've contributed to the squirrel problem by feeding them and attracting them to the residence he may be right that you were contributing to the problem. If he sealed them into the attic when he repaired the holes then he also contributed.
I recommend that you get a $40 Havahart live squirrel trap and take care of the problem without worrying about who is responsible.
First, find your lease and read the terms, every paragraph. Identify what it exactly states are your responsibility to take care of during your lease term. Also check the lease regarding the procedure for putting the landlord on notice. Most leases state a procedure for providing written notice to the landlord via certified mail.
Second, check out the local district court for information on the rent escrow proceedings and what you need to file such a case. Rent escrow involves a claim that the property is not safe or poses a health threat. If the court determines there is a problem at the property, they will allow you to pay your rent into court, until the landlord fixes the problem.
I agree with sending a written notice to the landlord regarding the squirrel problem and your request to have an exterminator take care of the problem. Send the written notice by certified mail with a return receipt.
Check to see if Charles County has a local housing authority to come out and do an inspection and determine if the squirrel problem and/or other issues pose housing violations.
1. written notice to landlord
2. contact local housing authority if available
3. contact district court to get information on how to proceed with a rent escrow matter.