Do Landlords Pay for Pest Control in Wisconsin?
What You Should Know If Pests Are in Your Apartment
The landlord is responsible for paying for pest control when natural circumstances cause the infestation, according to Wisconsin State Legislature law regarding tenant responsibility for pest control. The law makes the landlord responsible if the pest problem was present in the home before renting and not disclosed. However, the tenant may be held responsible if the infestation is deemed their fault. Ultimately, you should consult your lease and an experienced attorney. It is every landlord’s responsibility to provide habitable living conditions, but it depends on who caused the infestation.
Regardless of where responsibility lies, bedbug, rodent and cockroach pest infestations pose a serious health hazard. The first thing you should do is schedule an appointment with a pest control professional to remedy the problem. Worry about who will pay later. Even if your landlord fixes the problem before your appointment, having the paperwork from another company will show you took steps to fix the problem yourself in a legal dispute.
What if my Landlord Didn’t Tell Me About a Pest Problem?
Landlords must provide habitable units. According to Wisconsin law, a landlord must disclose: “Any structural or other conditions in the dwelling unit or premises which constitute a substantial hazard to the health or safety of the tenant, or create an unreasonable risk of personal injury as a result of any reasonably foreseeable use of the premises other than negligent use or abuse of the premises by the tenant.” In other words, if your landlord knows of a serious pest issue in your unit and doesn’t tell you before you move in, they are liable and must pay for removal.
When Are You Responsible for Pest Control?
If it is determined a pest problem is your fault, you will be responsible to pay for pest control. If you're facing the burden of pest control, give Ehlers Pest Management a call today. We offer fast, comprehensive service with lasting results.
Wisconsin Bedbug Laws - Who Pays
Wisconsin law clearly states premises repairs are the landlord's responsibility, but there are caveats regarding the cause of the repair issue. Wis. Stat. 704.07(3)(a) says, about the duty of the tenant, that:
"If the premises are damaged, including by an infestation of insects or other pests, due to the acts or inaction of the tenant, the landlord may elect to allow the tenant to remediate or repair the damage and restore the appearance of the premises by redecorating. However, the landlord may elect to undertake the remediation, repair, or redecoration, and in such case, the tenant must reimburse the landlord for the reasonable cost thereof."
Through "acts or inaction," the tenant can be made the responsible party for eliminating an infestation. With bed bug infestations, proving where the problem originated can be difficult for two reasons:
- Dirty apartments don't attract bedbugs. A common myth is that bedbugs prefer dirty apartments. Bedbugs live entirely off blood, mostly human blood. They'll be happy staying in a filthy apartment or luxurious penthouse all the same as long as humans are near. As a tenant, you won't be liable for a problem just because you didn't clean your room.
- Bedbugs can live up to 1 year without feeding. This means even after a new tenant moves in and there is a subsequent infestation, the problem could be dormant. This makes the cause of bedbug infestations hard to pinpoint. In cheaper, "dirtier" apartments, the landlord may not have the funds to hire a professional extermination service. This leads to breeding and a potential infestation spreading months later.
Bedbug infestations are a serious health hazard, and will only become more expensive if not treated immediately. We recommend you contact a pest control service before worrying about who will pay.
Can You Be Evicted For Bed Bugs in Wisconsin?
Landlords do have the ability to evict a tenant for bed bugs if it can be proved that the tenant caused the bed bug infestation and refuses to pay for the treatment. However, it is very difficult to prove that a specific tenant caused the infestation. As mentioned in the previous section, bed bugs can live for a year without feeding and are not attracted to dirty rooms specifically.
If You Want To Dispute Pest Control Responsibility
- As a tenant - If you are in a bedbug responsibility disagreement with your landlord, contact an attorney. You may be eligible to sue for payments or break your lease as a tenant living in uninhabitable conditions.
- As a landlord - If you are in a bedbug responsibility disagreement with your tenant, you may be able to hold the tenant responsible for exasperating the problem if they were uncooperative with the pest removal services, or can be proven to have brought the pest into the residence.
How Long Does a Landlord Have to Fix a Rodent Problem in Wisconsin?
According to Amendment SA12-SSA1-SB179, a landlord must contact a pest control agent within 10 days of the rodent problem being reported.
What are Renter's Rights with Cockroaches in Wisconsin?
Under Wisconsin Statutes 704.07, landlords are responsible for taking action against the cockroach problem within a reasonable time frame. If the landlord fails to address the cockroach infestation despite being notified, you could have the right to terminate the lease without penalty or remedies under state laws. If the landlord refuses to take action or retaliates against you for reporting the infestation, you may have legal recourse.
What Should Tenants Do if They Discover Pests in the Rental Unit?
Tenants should promptly notify the landlord or property management about the pest problem in writing. Providing written documentation ensures a record of communication and may be necessary for future reference or legal actions if the issue is not resolved.