What would you do with 5 billion dollars? We are sure you wouldn’t want to spend it repairing damage from termites. The sad fact is, that is exactly how much US residents pay each year fixing damage termites cause in their homes. The costs can be even more than an average homeowner if you are a landlord.
Are Landlords responsible for termites?
One of the primary responsibilities of a landlord is to provide livable space for the tenant. If the tenant has reasoned that the dwelling is not habitable, they can break their contract with the landlord without fees. In some cases, the landlord may have to pay to accommodate the tenant’s short-term housing expenses until repairs are done.
So the question is…
Can you live in a house with termites?
No. Although you might tolerate termites or carpenter ants for a few days, termites will eventually eat through foundational beams and other integral parts of the home, making it unlivable. The responsibility of other pests can depend on local laws, and we recommend you read about regular pest control in rentals for more information. In the majority of areas, the laws are usually going to lean on the landlord in terms of fixing damage and performing the required inspections to keep termites out of the home.
In the rest of the article, we are going to discuss how renters and landlords can protect themselves from the damages of termites.
How to protector yourself from termites as a Renter
Before signing your lease
In most cases, the landlord is going to have to worry about termites; however, when signing your lease, make sure you check for anything that talks about pest control. If there is no mention of termites and other pest control, speak to your landlord and add something to the contract. Having something in written form before a termite infestation could not only save you money but get you out of your contract without fees
When you move in
When you move in, do a thorough walkthrough and look for any signs of termite damage. Don’t forget to ask the landlord about when the last time a termite inspection and regular pest control service was done.
If you get termites during your lease
While living in the apartment or home, try to clean and maintain the dwelling as much as possible. This not only helps you stay on the good side of the landlord but eliminates chances that you were the cause. If the landlord proves you brought the termites, you could be liable. One of the biggest things that attract termites is putting firewood piles next to the house.
So what if you didn’t do that and you run into termites while living there? The first thing you should do is notify your landlord immediately. Once termites are spotted, they can turn into an infestation quickly. Just as you could call out the landlord for neglecting his responsibilities, they can do the same to you if you don’t notify them. Most landlords will take care of it quickly to avoid further damage, and if they don’t, it is good to have a written notice if the landlord tries having you split the costs of damages with them. Here is an article on how you can identify termites so you know what to look for.
How to protect yourself from termites as a Landlord
Call a Termite Exterminator
If you are reading this article because your renter has called you to tell you they have termites, call a professional termite exterminator immediately. Professional is the keyword here. Many pest control companies can’t handle termites, and a misdiagnosis could cause you thousands in damages. Many landlords like to handle other pests with DIY remedies or solutions, but termites are not something you should do yourself as a small swarm can quickly turn into an infestation.
Check your insurance
Many homeowners assume it is part of their homeowner’s insurance when, in reality, termite damage is generally not included unless you have added it to the basic plan. It is important to note that homeowners’ and renters’ insurance vary depending on your area.
Conduct a termite inspection
In some areas, this is a requirement when purchasing a home. If you have had the property for a while, it may be worth having one done every so often. Having this as due diligence can give you and even renters peace of mind before signing a lease. You may consider adding termite barriers or termite baits when this is done. Termite barriers will highly depend on how relevant termites are in your area. Some pest control companies even offer guarantees or warranties on these services, which can save you money if your property does get an infestation.
Review your lease agreement
One of the highest costs is paying tenants to relocate to a temporary location if you have to conduct repairs while the home is deemed uninhabitable. However, local laws have limitations. It is best to have a clause about termites in your contract and have clear expectations before an incident occurs to protect both parties. Especially if you add something about how soon they have to report damages. Termites move quickly, and a matter of a few days could be a difference between hundred or thousands in repairs.
Along with what happens in the case of a termite infestation, you should consider things in the agreement that could attract termites, like not storing firewood right next to the house.
Inspect the property regularly
Although renters should tell you if they see anything, it is not their property, and they may not know the signs of termites as well as you do. Regular inspections give you or a pest control expert opportunities to inspect the home and catch anything they might miss.
This article was co-written by Mantis Pest Solutions, a local pest control company in Missouri, and Pest-Ex, an exterminator in Australia.