Pest Control for Your Rental Property: Who is Responsible?

Pest control can be a touchy subject for both tenants and landlords. Whenever an infestation breaks out, it is human nature for each to blame the other and hold them responsible. But who is responsible legally? The answer is complex and contains some “grey area,” but here is what the WA Department of Commerce has to say:

“As a general rule, any outbreak or infestation… is the landlords responsibility and not the tenant’s.”

However, the Department of Commerce also says this: “The tenant must keep the premises clean and tidy.”

Pest Control for Your Rental Property

The Quandary

And therein lies the rub: neither side can fully control the situation. A tenant can’t be sure that the landlord is following the right protocol and the landlord can’t be sure the tenant is keeping the home clean enough to not attract pests.

What the Landlord Can Do

The only infestation for which a landlord generally has legal recourse is a flea infestation. Therefore, it is in your best interests to do everything you can on your end to keep infestations from occurring, regardless of whether or not the tenant keeps the property clean. In some cases, this can be done with supermarket products. In other cases, we recommend professional pest control.

In all cases, keep good records. Document every penny you spend on pest control and when it is performed. In a worst-case scenario, you may need it for court.


Cockroaches are best treated by a professional pest control company. This should be done on every rental property that you have. Not only is it a case of “better safe than sorry,” it also leaves a paper trail that you have done your part in keeping the premises pest-free.

Mice or Rats

These can be treated by baits purchases from a store, but we recommend building protection from mice and rats into a professional pest control contract.


This is another pest that we recommend being left to the pest control professionals. Redback spiders can be especially dangerous and a liability issue.

Get Professional Property Management

Our main recommendation is to hire a professional property manager and allow them to hire a professional pest control company. Ultimately, both are worth far more than you will pay them for their services.

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