The last thing anyone would want to have in their home is a rat/mice. Imagine walking into your kitchen and finding a mouse scurrying across your cooker or countertop. It becomes even worse when you realize that you have more rodents hiding in the darker corners of your house, including in the bedrooms and kitchen. Your home automatically becomes uninhabitable.
Tenants need to know what to do and their rights regarding issues like these. California law is pretty clear on who should take responsibility between a tenant and landlord in case of a rat/mice infestation. However, you might need the help of an experienced eviction attorney to understand your rights better. In this article, let us look at what you can do in case of a rat/mice infestation in your house.
What To Do If You Face Rat/Mice Infestation
Staying in good health is a great challenge for most people, especially in the year’s coldest months. On top of worrying about the common cold and flu, which are characteristic of the winter season, people have rodents to worry about too. It is because when the temperatures drop, rodents creep into people’s homes in search of food, warmth, and shelter. It becomes easier for them to enter your home if there are cracks and crevices in your house. The leading cause for concern when this happens is property damage and the spread of diseases.
That is why when you see a rat/mouse scurrying away in your living room, kitchen or bedroom, the first thing you must do is to notify your landlord. California law makes landlords responsible for problems like these. Local and state laws provide specifics on how landlords should carry out this responsibility. You might need to act fast because, as previously noted, rats/mice can cause more significant destruction to your home and leave you dealing with serious health issues.
For instance, the accumulation of feces from rats and mice can quickly spread bacteria throughout your house. Rats/mice will also contaminate your food and trigger allergic reactions in your family members. Once their feces dry, it becomes hazardous to anyone who breathes it in. Rat/mice droppings can also spread viruses, including hantavirus, bubonic plague, rat-bite fever, and salmonellosis. These are dangerous viruses that could lead to serious health issues and sometimes death. For instance, hantavirus is a life-threatening disease that you could get if you inhale the droppings, saliva, or urine of an infected rodent. Eating food contaminated by rodents could result in rat-bite fever, resulting in symptoms like vomiting, headaches, rash, and muscle pain.
Thus, knowing what to do if you experience a rat/mice infestation in your rented home is essential. It is also necessary to act fast to prevent further infestation and deal with the problem once and for good. As a tenant, you have a right to a livable premise. Your landlord has the greater responsibility of ensuring that your house/home meets all the safety and health conditions. Thus, you should alert him/her immediately if there is a problem and ensure that you receive the most needed help dealing with the rat/mice problem. Note that you might be responsible for dealing with the infestation too, as will be discussed later. For legal assistance or guidance, especially if your landlord is not willing to cooperate, you can seek the help of an experienced eviction attorney.
Your Rights to Livable Premises
California law protects the rights of tenants to rent properties that meet the basic structural, safety, and health standards. Landlords must ensure that their houses are in good repair, too, before letting. If your landlord fails to take care of necessary maintenance, the law allows you to take legal action against him/her. Further, the law makes it illegal for landlords to retaliate in any way against tenants who exercise their legal rights, like repairing and deducting the repair costs from their rent payments. You can force your landlord to take care of a rats/mice infestation through a legal suit. You can also take care of the infestation, then charge your landlord. Either way, you will be protected by the law.
California Civil Code 1941.1 and 1941.3 provide the guidelines that landlords must follow before renting out a premise. For instance, your landlord must maintain a clean and sanitary building and grounds. The premises must be free of filth, debris, rodents, garbage, and vermin. Your landlord must also provide adequate trash receptacles. When landlords fail in their legal mandate, and a residential place is infested with rodents, tenants have a legal right to call out on them.
However, sometimes the tenant could be held responsible in case of a rat/mice infestation. State housing laws require tenants to keep their rentals clean and sanitary at all times. You must dispose of all garbage and rubbish properly, cleanly, and hygienically. If the infestation resulted from negligence on your (tenant) part, you would be required to assume responsibility for their control.
Most of these issues are a little complicated, and you might find yourself in trouble for making the wrong assumptions. That is why you need the help of an experienced eviction attorney.
If the Landlord is Responsible
Tenants in California must know their rights when leasing or renting. Your right includes what you must do or not do if your rented home has a rodent problem. Failing to know your rights will cause you to incur significant losses, which should have been the responsibility of your landlord. If anything, any problem you incur in your rented space must be reported to the landlord immediately. Only take action if the landlord is unwilling to help with the situation.
The first thing to do is determine whether or not your landlord is responsible for the problem you are experiencing. California law places the responsibility of pest control on landlords. However, there are instances, as previously mentioned, that the tenant could be responsible.
Is there something you believe or have seen that the landlord neglected, which could have resulted in the infestation?
If yes, you should report it to your landlord immediately.
For instance, was the premise habitable from the beginning? California law requires landlords to ensure that rental properties are entirely habitable when a tenant is moving in. If you moved in when rodents already infested the premises, it automatically became the landlord’s problem. The landlord can even face legal penalties if he/she did not make any efforts whatsoever to control the rodents and make the property habitable for the incoming tenant. The law allows you to decline to move in and collect your rental deposit in a case like that. The other option might be to let the landlord take care of the rodents before you officially move in.
If the property was habitable initially, but an infestation occurred while you lived there, your landlord could also be responsible. That is if it is not your fault. For instance, it could be that the rats/mice entered your house through cracks and crevices on the building wall. In that case, your landlord should take care of the infestation before it becomes a more significant problem.
Landlords are responsible for the general condition of their properties. Cracks and crevices on walls should have been repaired way before the property was rented or leased out. If that did not happen and an infestation occurred, your landlord is required to take care of the infestation immediately and ensure that the problem will not happen in the future.
California law also provides guidelines in which landlords must professionally eliminate pests and rodents in residential buildings. For instance, they must comply with state and local health laws. It means that the landlord can hire professional pest control services if safe DIY methods have failed.
If your landlord fails to assume responsibility for the rat/mice infestation, you can take legal action against him/her. If you have already informed the landlord about the infestation on your rented property, and he/she has not taken any action, the law allows you to do any of the following:
- Hire the services of an exterminator, and deduct the cost of the services from your payment
- Refuse to make payments for your rent until your landlord takes action
- Terminate your rent/lease agreement
It could help if you have proof of the pest problem, for instance, pictures or videos of food items, clothes, or furniture damaged by the rodents. You could also obtain a home inspection report or a report from an exterminator detailing the seriousness of the problem that your landlord is ignoring.
When The Problem is Your Responsibility
You are responsible for the rat/mice infestation if you did or failed to do something, and the result was the infestation. The tenant’s responsibility in pest control is covered under California Civil Code 1941.2. If your actions are to blame for the infestation, and the infestation has rendered the property uninhabitable, you are required by law to assume responsibility for eliminating the rodents. The landlord must not be involved in any way in the costs associated with the extermination.
For instance, you might have kept the premise dirty, thereby attracting rodents that eventually found their way into your house. Your home is always susceptible to pests. For instance, if food remains are all over the premises, rats, and mice will quickly come to the feast, multiply and remain there for a long while.
In that case, you must call an exterminator and even pay for the services. You will also be solely responsible for any damages that the rodents might have caused.
What Can An Attorney Do For You
Issues to do with tenants and landlords can be complicated in California. You can quickly find yourself in legal problems for something you did or failed to do. Again, it is essential to know your rights in issues like these to protect them against violation. Thus, you might need the help and counsel of an experienced eviction attorney.
Your attorney will help you identify who is responsible for the rat/mice infestation between you and the landlord. he/she will consider several factors, like the property’s condition when you entered and now. If your landlord is responsible, your attorney will advise and guide you on the necessary steps you must take to ensure that the problem is dealt with once and for good. If your landlord fails to take responsibility when he/she is responsible for the problem, your attorney will guide you into taking action against the landlord.
Your attorney’s responsibility is to safeguard your interests and ensure that your problem is handled amicably, with minimal or no stress. Therefore, you can allow your attorney to take charge of every detail while carrying on with your life. For instance, if you have issues with your landlord regarding the infestation, your attorney can best handle the matter without dragging you into it. An experienced attorney will be careful with what to say and do to avoid any issue that could compromise your situation further. Your attorney will also be in a better position to negotiate with your landlord for a more permanent solution.
Find an Experienced Eviction Attorney Near Me
A rat/mice infestation in Los Angeles, CA, will not let you enjoy the peace of your home. It could also bring health problems that could take a toll on your family. That is why you must deal with it immediately when you notice a problem. However, handling the issue depends on who, between you and the landlord, is responsible for the infestation. That is why you might need proper legal help to ensure that you settle the matter amicably, with no legal tussles. At Los Angeles Eviction Attorney, we will take charge of everything so that you will not worry about the infestation much longer. Call us at 310-695-5536 and let us determine liability.