Moving is stressful enough. But finding that your new apartment has a roach infestation can be a real blow. Cockroach control can be tricky, especially if you are living in a multi-unit building where the bugs can easily transfer from one accommodation to another or if you are in a heavily urbanized area.
Luckily, persistent cockroach problems can be grounds to break your lease early. But how can you go about doing this?
Can you break a lease because of roaches? If so, how to do it?
If you have persistent roach infestations in your new home, it may be possible to break your lease on account of the presence of vermin. Because according to attorney and CEO of LegalAdvice.com David Reischer: “The law recognizes that there is an implied ‘warranty of habitability’ in all residential leases that the premises are fit and habitable for human habitation”.
When interacting with your landlord or the homeowner, take the following steps to address the problem:
- Have an initial conversation with your landlord: First, thoroughly document the situation and contact your landlord to alert them to the problem a soon as possible. Depending on your tenancy agreement, they should arrange for an exterminator or handyman to come over and spray for roaches. A long-time landlord and owner of AccidentalRental.com Domenick Tiziano also puts emphasis on allowing your property manager or landlord time to address the pest problem instead of trying to immediately break your lease since “most of the time a good landlord and pest control professional can get it taken care of quickly”. However, if your landlord’s efforts don’t effectively clear the infestation, try to discuss a peaceful end to your lease.
- Send a letter describing the severity of the problem: If your landlord refuses to take action after your initial complaint the next step is to send your complaint in writing. Pen a letter or email detailing the severity and continuation of the problem, preferably with time and date-stamped pictures and/or video proof, and request that your landlord takes the appropriate action. If they ignore your correspondence or refuse to address the issue even then, this is usually grounds to break the lease. As David Reischer further explained: “Landlord that does not hire a pest control company to remediate a situation in which a residential dwelling has roaches or other pests, allows a tenant to legally breach the terms of the lease agreement, including the making of any future rent payments due or possibly even allowing the tenant to vacate the premises”.
- Consult an attorney: If your landlord is still not cooperating, Shawn Breyer from Atlanta House Buyers advises to “seek counsel from a tenant-landlord attorney and ask them how easy it is to cancel the lease in your state with the documentation that you have built”. The attorney will be able to advise you on the best way to proceed.
It is usually possible to break the lease on an apartment that has problems with vermin. However, your success may heavily depend on your landlord, your lease, the state you live in, how extensive your documentation of the situation is and how you approach the situation.
You can help your case by:
- Checking potential new apartments for vermin before you move in: If your apartment has a history of infestation, this will be apparent before you even move in. When viewing potential homes, make sure to search for signs of infestation before signing a lease. Pay close attention to the spaces behind appliances, especially in the kitchen, and keep an eye out for signs of live or dead roaches, egg cases, and droppings.
- Maintaining your property well: If your cockroach problem is a pre-existing issue specific to the apartment or the apartment complex, then you should be able to break your lease. If the cockroach problem is caused by you, however, then you probably won’t be able to break your lease. So, make sure you are doing everything you can to keep your home cockroach-free by maintaining the property and keeping it clean.
What if you can’t break your lease?
What happens if you can’t break your lease?
No-one can be expected to live among roaches, so you will have to implement an integrated pest control plan to clear the infestation. This will require a combination of direct roach control methods and preventative control measures to stop cockroaches from getting in.
How to get rid of and prevent roaches
Locate the nest
Finding out exactly where your roaches are hanging out is a powerful tool for their control. Head for the areas where you’ve seen the most cockroach activity and look for clusters of egg cases, dead bugs, droppings, and skin casks. This will give you a better idea of where to focus your control efforts.
Keep your home spotless
Keep your kitchen clean and tidy to avoid tempting roaches indoors. Wipe up all crumbs and spills and clean dirty utensils and plates immediately to remove potential food sources for roaches. It’s also essential that you stay on top of your garbage situation – trash should be taken out regularly and disposed of outside. Garbage cans should be stored at least 6 feet from the building, as these are common harborage sites for roaches.
Get rid of standing water
Cockroaches are drawn to places with abundant water sources, so removing standing water around your home can help to discourage them. Check behind appliances and under AC units for puddles, an unblock any drains that could have stagnant water pooling inside.
Clear away clutter
Empty recycling boxes, woodpiles, overgrown shrubs, and long grasses can all harbor cockroaches. If the exterior of your home is looking cluttered, get to work clearing away the debris to reduce the number of roaches hanging around outside your house.
Identify and seal up entry points
An effective way to keep cockroaches out of your house is to make sure they can’t get inside. Seal up cracks and crevices under doors and around windows and water pipes to keep roaches out.
Use a roach repellent
Cockroach repellents can be an effective way to keep cockroaches away from your home. Scatter boric acid along skirting boards and under appliances to kill existing roaches and prevent more from moving in. Repeat this process at least once a week throughout the control period.
Set up traps
Hire an exterminator
If your cockroach problem is out of control and escape isn’t possible, you may want to enlist the help of a professional. Pest control services can effectively assess the situation and implement an effective extermination treatment while providing valuable advice on how to prevent re-infestation.
Cockroach infestations can be distressing, not least because of how difficult they are to eradicate. Recurrent problems may be down to the location of your apartment, as those in multi-unit buildings or densely populated areas are more susceptible to repeated roach issues.
Fortunately, the continued presence of vermin in your home is often grounds to break your lease so, if you are seeing a constant influx of roaches, you should discuss the problem with your landlord to see if you can peacefully terminate your lease. For more specific information about your rights as a renter, look up the rental laws of your state of residence.