If you live in a rented unit, like an apartment, for instance, you surely have many questions about your rights and responsibilities as a tenant.
One of such issues is related to pest control. Mice are a common problem in close-knit living situations.
If you have spotted mice in your apartment, then you have a right to be concerned.
But can you legally withhold rent for mice?
The answer isn’t so simple. It mainly relies on your lease and the laws of your state. Therefore, the answer varies depending on the situation. But in most cases, you can’t legally withhold rent so simply.
There are certain regulations and agreements that bind both tenants and landlords to ensure that no one’s rights are violated.
So, before you jump to conclusions or threaten your landlord for mice, you need to get informed about your responsibilities and rights as a renter.
Keep reading as we explain this in further detail below!
What is your responsibility as a tenant?
Just like landlords, tenants also have responsibilities to keep their rented space clean, maintained, and safe.
However, that doesn’t mean that your landlord isn’t responsible for providing you with a pest-free property. But whether or not you can legally withhold your rent due to mice depends entirely on your lease agreement.
You need to go through your lease and understand all the responsibilities and services that you and your landlord are entitled to.
Your lease will have a clause that explains who is responsible for pest control and how to go about the situation.
The leases in which the responsibility of pest control is designated to the landlord often require the tenant to notify them about infestation within 24 to 48 hours.
This way, the landlord can tend to the issue right away.
Moreover, the notice also gives the tenant proof of the landlord’s neglect in case they refuse to do something about the mice.
Therefore, always keep a copy of the notice with you to have concrete proof of the steps that you took to tackle the problem.
When can You withhold rent for mice infestation?
When you notice mice in your apartment, you might feel angry or frustrated with your landlord when they refuse to do something about it.
However, that doesn’t necessarily give you the legal ground to withhold your rent until the issue is solved.
Two things play a critical role in this specific situation: local laws and your lease agreement. These two will determine whether you have the right to withhold your rent for mice or not.
Otherwise, not paying your rent on time can put you at the risk of being evicted.
That is why it is essential to have a clear picture of your rights and responsibilities as a tenant. Pay special attention to your lease when you’re moving into a new apartment.
See whether you or your landlord will be responsible for damages and pest control.
If you sign the lease without understanding what it entails, you can find yourself in a difficult position when an issue such as mice infestation arises.
If your lease makes your landlord responsible for taking care of mice, then you need to make sure that you do your part. If you’re required to notify your landlord with a certain timeframe, make sure you do that.
In any case, get legal counsel if you’re unsure about your situation. Withholding rent without any legal grounds is not the right way to go.
Even if you think you’re entitled to not pay rent, don’t go forward with this decision before getting legal counsel.
How to prevent future mice infestations in your apartment?
When you get rid of the mice problem by notifying your landlord as per the lease, you need to think of ways to prevent this problem in the future.
Several pest control experts recommend looking for the entry points of mice in your apartment. You need to identify the areas that allowed the mice to enter your apartment and seal them properly.
Make sure you always keep your food covered and away from plain sight. Mice look for places that offer food and a comfortable environment for them to breed.
You don’t want to make your apartment accessible to them. For that, you can use mousetraps at entry points, so mice don’t come back.
If you want to be rid of mice for good, then professional pest control services are your answer. By seeking professionals, you can ensure that your apartment doesn’t get infested with mice ever again.
When can You legally withhold rent?
You may be wondering whether there are circumstances in which you can legally withhold rent. Even the answer varies for the mice situation, but there are some instances in which you can withhold rent.
One such situation is when the HVAC system doesn’t work in your apartment.
Landlords are legally responsible for providing properly functioning HVAC services to their tenants.
It’s nearly impossible to live comfortably during summer or winter without a working HVAC system. Therefore, you have the right to demand quick repairs.
Even though you may have the right to withhold rent in some cases, but it’s not as straightforward as that. You can’t just keep the rent for yourself.
There are procedures that you have to follow. Depending on the state laws and your lease, you could be required to follow the regulations mentioned below:
- The amount of withhold-able rent varies depending on your state law. In some cases, you can withhold the entire about, while in others, you can withhold the amount that will go into the repair of the facility.
- In many states, you’ll have to deposit the withheld amount with your local court as proof that you aren’t simply trying to avoid paying rent for personal gain. So, always check with the local authorities about the right procedure.
- You can’t withhold rent without notifying your landlord about the issue and giving them adequate time to address it. Make sure you send them a written notice and the due date so you have proof of your correspondence.
Nothing is more disturbing and gross than sighting mice in your apartment. It’s a serious issue that must be addressed immediately.
However, you can’t take legal matters into hand and withhold the rent without understanding the local laws and your signed lease.
Make sure you follow the notifying procedure mentioned in your lease and play your part.
If the landlord refuses to meet their end of the bargain, then it would be best to seek legal counsel and learn about all your options under the law.
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