Unwanted guests sometimes find their way into our living spaces. Most pest problems can be resolved with some attention and cooperation between the tenant and landlord. The first and most important step in remedying pest infestations is communicating with your landlord and determining the appropriate course of action.
According to the City of Philadelphia Housing Code, as described in "Partners for Good Housing" (PDF) responsibility for insects and rodents are as follows:
For the tenant, this means:
- In one-family houses, the tenant or homeowner must keep the house clean and sanitary. It is the occupant's responsibility to have insects, rodents, other pests exterminated.
- Where there are two or more apartments in a building, the landlord must keep all shared or public areas of the buildings clean and sanitary.
- The tenant must have any insects, rodents, or other pests exterminated if the tenant's apartment is the only one infested. Otherwise, it is the responsibility of the landlord to have such pests exterminated.
If you live in a single-family home or a rooming house rented together by a group of students, the tenants are responsible for extermination service unless:
If you live in an apartment building and your apartment is the only one infested, you could be made responsible for the cost of extermination. If two or more apartments are infested, the landlord is responsible for extermination.
- the premises were already infested when the tenants moved in, OR
- there are defects in or damages to the building structure provide easy access to pests and favorable conditions for infestation.
Preventing an Infestation
Sometimes, despite our best efforts to keep the premises clean and store food properly, pests may still enter. However, there are some simple measures one can take that may make your home less accessible and less appealing to pests.
- When selecting an apartment or house, inspect the entire place, particularly the ground floor and kitchen areas, for holes. Mice may enter through very small holes (even 1/2 inch or underneath a closed door). Check to see that the space around any pipes, such as water or gas pipes, is properly and permanently sealed. If large spaces remain, request that your landlord repair the holes as soon as possible.
- Store food in airtight, sturdy plastic or metal containers. Keep food only in the kitchen or pantry, and put dry goods (a favorite among mice) on high shelves and seal them well. Some say mice will chew through plastic. If this happens, metal tins can be purchased at many dollar stores.
- Sweep up crumbs and wipe down counters with soap or a disinfectant after cooking and eating.
The presence of droppings, chewed or gnawed food packaging, or shredded paper/nesting material may indicate an infestation. If you suspect that you may have an infestation, the Environmental Protection Agency provides extensive information on their website about common household infestations. Residential Services also has compiled fact sheets for bed bugs, mice and cockroaches. A link to the Pest Control page on the Residential Services website has been included in the list below.
Rodents (Mice and Rats)
Guide to Pest Control
Residential Services: Pest Control