Both tenants and landlords in California have the responsibility to prevent pest infestation in rental homes. If a pest problem develops, the landlord must correct the problem. Landlords who have a contract with an exterminator must also provide new tenants with notice of regular pesticide use.
California law recognizes an "implied warranty of habitability" for tenants. This means that landlords have a responsibility to keep their rental properties fit for human habitation and up to building code standards. If the building or rental units become infested with vermin, the landlord must take action to eliminate the pests.
Tenants should notify their the landlord of the problem and request that the landlord provide pest control services. If the landlord fails to do this, tenants have options, including the right to not pay rent until the landlord takes action, to pay for extermination services themselves and deduct this money from the rent, or to terminate their leases and find other places to live. Tenants who use any of these remedies should prepare themselves for possible legal conflict with their landlord by talking to a lawyer before moving out or not paying rent. A tenant should also carefully review the laws that govern these remedies so that she knows the proper procedure for using them.
If a pest problem is caused by a tenant's behavior or negligence, such as failing to take out the trash, the landlord is not responsible for paying for an exterminator. The tenant also doesn't have the option of withholding rent or terminating the lease. If a tenant recognizes that he contributed to the pest problem, he should prepare to bear some or all of the costs of extermination.
If a landlord or property management company contracts with a pest control company for regular extermination services, the landlord or manager must give each new tenant a copy of a disclosure about the use of pesticides in the building or unit. In situations where a landlord or property manager hires an exterminator, he must provide notice to tenants before the first treatment. If the pest control company begins using a different pesticide, the landlord or property manager must provide another notice identifying the pesticide.