At first you try to put it out of your mind. But there’s no denying the scratching and gnawing that you hear between the walls. All signs point to an apartment rat infestation. Unfortunately, this is fitting because ever since the pandemic, rats have had to adapt to surrounding circumstances and have increased their presence in residential areas. It’s bad enough to see a rat out in the street, but it’s quite another situation when you see one in your apartment.
Gather the Evidence
After you calm down, contact the landlord and report the sighting to them (in writing). Although it may be difficult (on many levels), it is important to gather documentation of the infestation such as photos of the rodents or of any other indicators, such as droppings. You want to be able to show some presence of the rats to the landlord. Additionally, you will want to clean your apartment to help get a sense of an entry point and also to minimize blame for an infestation.
Your landlord has a duty to address an apartment rat infestation as part of their obligation to provide you with a habitable premises, meaning that the premises must be livable and in a condition that doesn’t risk the health and safety of the tenants. Because rats and mice carry diseases and are a well-known public health problem, an infestation would qualify.
Additionally, your landlord has a duty to make necessary repairs. The catch is that your landlord is only responsible if they have actual or “Constructive” knowledge. Actual knowledge occurs when you or other tenants tell them. Putting this in writing is crucial because it makes it harder for your landlord to later deny knowing. ” If your landlord is on notice and fails to act properly to address the problem then it’s considered a breach of this duty.
While your landlord has a duty to fix a problem, you also have a duty to keep your apartment clean. Tenants who are “hoarders,” or leave rotting food out for example may bare some responsibility for a pest infestation. Often times a landlord may try and pin the responsibility for a pest infestation on a tenant so be careful not to admit any fault, especially in writing. A landlord can sue you for damages or even attempt to evict you.
Dealing with Rats and Your Landlord Won’t Help? Talk to a Lawyer
If you’re battling rats or another infestation and you need help resolving the situation, you should reach out to an experienced tenants’ rights attorney who is familiar with issues of this kind. Contact us here at Wolford Wayne for skilled lawyers who can provide insight into your potential case and help you explore your options.