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How to deal with pests while renting

A brown wooden mouse trap loaded with a small piece of cheese as bait.
Photo: Skitterphoto on pexels.com

Posted on April 13, 2022

By Samantha Lizardo

Mice, cockroaches and bed bugs are just some of the kinds of pests that can infest a home. If you’re renting, your landlord is responsible for getting rid of them and making sure they don’t get back in.

As a current or potential tenant, here’s what you can do to deal with and prevent pests in your home:

Ask about pest history

It is against the law for a landlord to knowingly rent a unit that has pests. Before renting, perform in-person apartment viewings as much as possible so you can properly look for signs of pests and always ask about pest history. Ask about what pests were present, how long ago, how they were treated and how many times, if there are any ongoing issues in the building, and what’s being done to treat those issues. Treatment records about common areas must be available upon request for prospective and current tenants.

Notify your landlord about pests as soon as possible

In Ontario, pest control falls under maintenance and repairs which means that the landlord is responsible for the cost and coordination of these treatments. Make sure to contact your landlord right away if you have any concerns and keep track of your exchanges by email or text. Check out tips from Housing on how to request maintenance. If you do not notify them of the problem and it spreads to nearby units, you may be held responsible for acting negligently.

Once your landlord is notified, they will have three days to show reasonable action to prevent pests from spreading and must provide notice about next steps such as if they’ve hired a pest control service or will take care of it themselves, and if/when they will need to access the unit.

Preparing for pest treatment

You may need to prepare some things before pest treatment such as letting the pest control service into your place on a certain day or moving furniture away from an area.

If there is pest treatment in a building with multiple units, landlords are required to post information in a common area of the building for all tenants to see. It should include the pest treatment activities and the name of the licenced company doing the treatment. It does not have to include which unit(s) the treatment is taking place.

Let your landlord know if you need help getting your unit ready for the pest control service or if you have any health concerns about the treatment method. Your landlord is legally required to find another treatment method if it is harmful to your health.

If any of your belongings, such as furniture or clothing, come in contact with pests, be prepared to throw things away or have them professionally cleaned.

Tips for preventing pests

Keep your spaces clean! Clean the kitchen and bathroom regularly. Empty your garbage, recycling and compost often. Make sure food is stored and refrigerated properly.

Don’t pick up free furniture on the street as these often carry pests such as bed bugs.

Visit Steps for Justice for more information on repairs and maintenance and housing law in Ontario.

Check out the Housing resource library for more resources about renting off-campus.