Who is responsible for fumigation of infestation?

Question from Daniel Cousin updated on 16th April 2009:

I've just purchased my first rental property and have had it rented for 6 weeks now. My tenants have just asked me to have the house fumigated. I completed 2 weeks work on the house before they moved in. I did find 1 or 2 within that time but I don't accept that there is a infestation. If I get it sprayed I'm sure they will return as the house is in a swampy area. My tenant already told me she has a phobia with insects. At what point does my responsability stop?

Our expert Jeff Montgomery responded:

Responsibility for infestations or fumigating a house is not specifically covered by the Residential Tenancies Act 1986 (the Act), and depends on the circumstances in each case.

Where an infestation is found at the start of a tenancy and fumigation is needed, it may be considered the landlord’s responsibility as part of providing the property in a reasonably clean and tidy condition. If a tenant fails to keep the property reasonably clean and tidy during their tenancy and attracts vermin or an infestation, then the tenant may be responsible for fumigation.

I suggest you speak to your tenant to see if you can agree on who will pay for an initial fumigation, and who will cover the cost of any future fumigation, if this is needed again due to the location of the property. If you and your tenant can’t agree, you can apply to the Tenancy Tribunal to resolve the matter. To discuss your situation further, you can contact the Department of Building and Housing on 0800 TENANCY (0800 836 262).

The Department of Building and Housing provides information and guidance on building law and compliance, services including weathertight homes, and advice for tenants and landlords.


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