There are two reactions to spotting a mouse. In some cases, people find mice cute and will squeal with delight. In most situations, though, folks will squeal for a different reason. Mice, like bugs and other rodents, have a tendency to freak out even the bravest among us. They may sometimes be kept as pets, but mice make the majority of the population leap into their chairs in fear. That fear is compounded when a mouse shows up somewhere unexpected, like your home.
When it comes to determining whether landlord or tenant is responsible for extermination efforts, it's important to look first to the lease. Any quality landlord wants to maintain their good reputation in order to continue to attract quality tenants. Generally speaking, it's on landlords and property management employees to provide a safe, clean and pest-free place to live.
Of course, the cause of a pest problem is not always immediately clear. Just as landlords are required to provide a safe place for tenants to live, tenants must uphold their end of this agreement and take care to clean their unit regularly. Leaving food out unattended is a surefire way to attract mice, as is leaving garbage outside the door rather than taking it to the dumpster. In such cases, it's not unreasonable for a landlord to assume the tenant caused the infestation themselves.
Some states allow tenants to withhold rent money or terminate their lease early when a landlord refuses to provide extermination services. Check the laws in your area to ensure you won't be slapped with a pricey fine or face a lawsuit if you fail to take action against the mice. Because laws vary so drastically from state to state, you'll want to do your due diligence and ensure your extermination policy - whatever it may be - is legal.
Ultimately, no matter who causes an infestation, the mere presence of a mouse on your property can reflect badly upon you and your team. In multi-family communities, a mice problem can quickly spiral out of control. When tenants share walls, it doesn't matter which person is to blame. Quickly, mice will become everyone's problem. As the infestation spreads, your Yelp page will begin blowing up and bearing the brunt of everyone's frustration.
The next time you hear of a mouse on your property, tread carefully and quickly.
- Scott Safadi, Cal Bay Property Management
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