Tenants signed a lease this year that had no pests or infestations (house was practically brand new). Moles appeared six 6 mo. into the tenancy. It's not an infestation, but they are noticing that more holes are appearing. Who is responsible for paying for extermination and/or any possible property damage that they may cause to the home?
"It's not an infestation". What is an infestation to you? If the moles are there to dig holes, it is an infestation.
RCW 59.18.060 (Landlord—Duties) provides: "The landlord will at all times during the tenancy keep the premises fit for human habitation, and shall in particular: ... (4) Provide a reasonable program for the control of infestation by insects, rodents, and other pests at the initiation of the tenancy and, except in the case of a single-family residence, control infestation during tenancy except where such infestation is caused by the tenant;"
If the rental is a single-family residence then the landlord arguably is not responsible to "control infestation" if the moles were not there 6 months ago. Moles are mobile and likely recently wandered onto the property.
"house was practically brand new" is not a legal or practical reason that there cannot be an infestation. Infestations can happen in any property.
While the landlord may win an argument over who must get rid of the moles, the landlord would be taking a lot of risk not taking charge of the problem. The tenant has no legal duty to get rid of the moles as the tenant is not the one causing the moles. Presumably, the tenant did not bring the moles onto the property. That is, the tenant may decide to just leave the moles be, and the moles may cause damages.
That is, the landlord should protect the landlord's own interest by hiring competent professionals to address the problems. There are also lots of rats and other rodents in large cities. The landlord should also take steps to reduce chances of rats and other rodents living on the property.
The landlord can factor these expenses into the rent when the lease is being renewed.
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