TenantsTips / Australia / Vermin and Pest Control advice for Tenants

Vermin and Pest Control advice for Tenants

This article offers advice and information for tenants in Western Australia in relation to the issue of vermin and pest control.

What are classed as vermin and pests?

Vermin are classed as pests or nuisances, especially those that carry diseases or pose a threat. Vermin and pests include fleas, termites, rats, mice, wasps, cockroaches and white ants.

What is pest control?

Pest control refers to the management and/ or eradication of a species which is classed as a pest. Pest control can take place at residential or commercial premises.

When are tenants responsible for pest control?

In circumstances where the tenant has already moved into a property the tenant is usually held responsible for the management and removal of vermin. Especially, if there is reason to believe that the tenant’s failure to keep the property reasonably clean has contributed to the infestation.

In cases where the tenant can demonstrate that an infestation has been caused by another source they may not be held responsible. The following examples outline situations where the tenant may not be responsible:

  • If the landlord has breached the tenancy agreement and the breach has led to an infestation.
  • If a neighbour has caused the infestation or contributed to it by neglecting the property, leaving rubbish outside or acting in any way that may have caused or attracted pests.

When are landlords responsible for pest control?

If pests are present at the beginning of a tenancy the owner of the property/ landlord is responsible for pest control and/ or fumigation. For this reason tenants are advised to check for signs of infestations and pests at the time of viewing a property.

Signs to look out for include scratch marks, animal hair and droppings.

If you notice any evidence of vermin or pests during a viewing you should discuss the problem with the landlord and ask them to carry out the appropriate measures to eradicate the problem.

What should I do if there is a vermin issue at the property?

If you discover vermin or pests once you move into a property you should contact your landlord immediately and notify them of the problem. You should also notify your landlord in writing requesting that they take immediate action to tackle the problem. Keep copies of any letters or correspondence regarding the issue.

pest control

What if the landlord refuses to act on the issue?

If your landlord refuses to deal with a pest control problem that was present from the start of your tenancy they are breaching your tenancy agreement under the Residential Tenancies Act 1987 (WA). The breach involves failing to provide premises that are in a reasonable state of cleanliness.

You can inform your landlord of the breach and ask them to address the issue by filling out Form 20A which is available from your local Tenants Advice Service. You can also write your landlord a letter stating the information relating to the breach.

You may also contact your local council’s environmental health department who may place an order for the necessary pest control action. The order will also outline who is responsible for the work.

Court orders:

If the landlord refuses to act on the problem after a breach notice and/ or a council order you may apply to the Magistrates Court for a performance order. An order granted by the Magistrates Court will order the landlord to take the necessary action for the eradication of vermin/ pests at the property.

If you wish to make an application to the Magistrates Court you can download the application form directly from the Magistrates Court website.

If you decide to apply for a court order you will be expected to demonstrate evidence of the problem as well as evidence that the problem has been present since the time you started your tenancy. This may include any of the following:

  • Letters/ correspondence between any parties involved.
  • Photographs of the problem at the property.
  • Samples taken from the property.

Further information:

For further information about the issue of pest control and vermin in relation to tenancies there are a number of organizations you can contact. All of the following offer advice and information on pest control:

  • Local council.
  • Local Tenants Advice Service.
  • Environmental Health.


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