I am a land lord and rent out my single family home in California. My tenents have been renting my house for almost 2 years and they are now claiming that they have rodents. I lived in the house for 10 year prior and the house has never had them before. To me, it seems that they should be liable for the pest control.
Unfortunately, absent an express provision in a lease requiring the tenants to pay for pest control, the law doesn't see the situation the way you do. It doesn't matter that you lived there rodent-free; there is a rodent problem now, which may or may not be the fault of the tenants.
As a landlord, you have an obligation under what is called the "implied warranty of habitability" to fix serious defects in property that pose a threat to an occupant's health. The continued presence of rodents could be considered a serious defect, and the tenants could be legally entitled to withhold rent payments.
It is in your best interest as a landlord to make sure you are complying with your obligations under the implied warranty of habitability and/or other obligations imposed upon you as a landlord under California law.
In California, you the landlord are responsible for ensuring habitability, which includes pest control and getting rid of rodents.
California Civil Code section 1941.1lists some examples of what might be considered characteristics of uninhabitable premises. Section 1941.1, subdivision (f), states:
"(f) Building, grounds, and appurtenances at the time of the
commencement of the lease or rental agreement, and all areas under
control of the landlord, kept in every part clean, sanitary, and free
from all accumulations of debris, filth, rubbish, garbage, rodents,
Frank W. Chen is licensed to practice law in the State of California. The information presented here is general in nature and is not intended, nor should be construed, as legal advice. This posting does not create any attorney-client relationship with the author. For specific advice about your particular situation, consult your own attorney.
I agree with my colleagues that you are responsible for the rodent problem. Be sure that the area around the rental unit is debris free as this attracts rodents. Rodents may also be caused by construction being done in the area.
Note this answer does not constitute legal advice, and should not be relied on. Each situation is fact specific and court specific, and it is not possible to evaluate a legal problem without a comprehensive consultation and review of all the facts and court pleadings filed in the case. This answer does not create an attorney-client relationship
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