As a tenant, you have a right to live in an apartment or house that is free from rodents, insects, and other vermin. You are not required to live within an apartment overrun by mice that are eating and dirtying your food or covered in bed bugs that are biting you day and night. Through the implied warranty of habitability and local and state laws, your landlord is required to get rid of infestations within your unit or the common areas of an apartment building. If your landlord does not uphold his or her duty, you may have the right to move out or hold your landlord financially responsible for fixing the problem. However, you should not do anything yourself without understanding your rights and the potential consequences. Speak with a San Francisco tenant rights attorney from Brod Law Firm first.
The Implied Warranty of Habitability
The implied warranty of habitability is an automatic promise you receive as a tenant that the premises you rent are safe and appropriate to live in. This is not a promise you receive in writing with your lease. It is an obligation dictated by law. It gives you the right to a habitable place to live and requires the landlord to keep the unit up to a certain standard.
What is exactly required under the implied warranty of habitability depends on a number of factors, however California Civil Code Section 1941.1 requires certain elements, including:
- Solid walls, roof, windows, and doors
- Working plumbing
- Garbage bins
- Rodent- and vermin-free
California’s New Bed Bug Law
As of January 1, California landlords must now follow the new bed bug law. This law requires landlords to respond quickly to a tenant’s notification, have the unit inspected by a professional pest control operator within two business days, and if bed bugs are found, have the issue resolved by professional exterminators.
There are common types of infestations that get a lot of attention, like mice, bedbugs, and cockroaches. You may know how to look out for these infestations and what to expect for their extermination. However, there are a number of other animals and insects that can become a serious problem in your individual unit or the whole building, including:
- Flies and gnats
- Bees, hornets, and wasps
- Carpet beetles
What to do if You Have an Infestation Problem
If you begin to notice that one mouse or a few insects has grown into a genuine problem, contact your landlord right away. You may choose to call first. If you do this, send a follow up email confirming that the conversation took place and what was said. Your landlord is obligated due to the implied warranty of habitability as well as some local or state ordinances to take care of rodent or insect infestations. You may not have an exterminator at your day within 24 hours, but it should not take months. If you have not heard more from your landlord or a professional exterminator within the week, contact your landlord again.
If weeks or months go by without any action being taken, call a tenant rights attorney from Brod Law Firm at (800) 427-7020.
(image courtesy of Boris Smokrovic)