Landlords need to make sure the property is free from pests and tenants need to keep their house in a condition that doesn’t encourage pests. They also need to know what to do if there’s an infestation.
Problems with pests tend to change with the seasons. Around spring and early summer you may have problems with insects. Winter is a more common time for rats or mice to get into the house.
If you have noticed a possible infestation
If you’re a tenant and you notice signs of pests, let the landlord know straight away. If the pests weren’t there at the start of the tenancy and no one has done anything to cause it, it’s unclear who’s responsible for getting rid of them. Landlords and tenants often agree to split the cost between them.
If you think the landlord caused the infestation by not maintaining the property, you can issue a notice to remedy.
If the house needs fumigating
Landlords should take responsibility if the house needs fumigating. If you’re a tenant, ask your landlord if they’re prepared to arrange and pay for fumigation. Some landlords arrange an annual fumigation (at their cost) as part of the tenancy agreement.
If you’re a tenant, also think about whether you need to keep the property cleaner. If your lack of cleanliness caused the infestation, it could be your responsibility. In this case, a landlord can apply to the Tenancy Tribunal and they may order you to pay for the fumigation.
Preventing problems with pests
You can also help prevent any pest infestations from happening in the first place.
Check for signs of pests before moving in
If you’re a tenant, you and the landlord should inspect the property together. Use this inspection to look for any signs of pests and talk to your landlord about any concerns you have.
You can also ask the landlord to repair any damage that might let pests get into the house, like holes in external walls or flooring.
New minimum healthy homes standards for rental properties in New Zealand will become law from 1 July 2019. The healthy homes standards incorporate six aspects of a property, which all contribute to a warm and dry home, including draughts. The draughts standard will specify that any gaps or holes in walls, ceilings, windows, floors and doors that cause unreasonable draughts must be blocked.
Keep your house clean
Once you move in, you need to keep the place clean and tidy. This will help keep pests like rats and mice away as they’ll have no food source and nowhere to nest.