At first you see one or two cockroaches scuttle across your kitchen counter. Within days, turning the light on in the middle of the night reveals their increasing numbers.
Once you see a couple of cockroaches, they soon takeover. A female produces hundreds of offspring a year, and they survive in the most adverse conditions. Beyond their cringe factor, their unsightly presence makes your home an unhygienic place to live. Extra cleanliness does little to impact their growing swarm. Spot treating with sprays and traps does not address the issue because they hide in a variety of unseen spaces.
Tell Us About Your Problems
Start the ball rolling by making an official complaint to your landlord. He or she may try to shrug off the issue or try to blame you or other tenants for the problem. However, an infestation of cockroaches is not an issue to be ignored and legally they are bound to address the issue properly.
In most cases, California law dictates that bug and pest infestations render apartments uninhabitable. If you are having serious issues with cockroaches, your landlord has a duty to remedy the situation.
The Dangers are Real:
Cockroaches carry and spread a wide array of diseases, bacteria, and germs. Their droppings and saliva can cause E. coli, salmonella, typhoid, urinary tract infections, digestive problems, and sepsis. People with compromised immune systems are especially in danger.
When cockroaches are eating, they defecate on their food source and any other surface that they come across. Their feces contain bacteria, dead skin, and empty eggshells. If you eat food contaminated by a cockroach, you can suffer from severe food poisoning.
Cockroaches can both cause and aggravate respiratory issues. The saliva that cockroaches continually secrete contains hundreds of allergens that can cause rashes, sneezing, and itchy, watery eyes. Cockroach infestations can also worsen existing allergy symptoms and asthmatic issues.
You have the right to a sanitary living space if you’re paying rent. Professional extermination is the only way to address the problem.
The Implied Warranty of Habitability
Under California law, the implied warranty of habitability is a promise given to keep your rental unit habitable. The landlord must maintain the premises in a safe, working, livable condition, which means fixing issues as needed.
This warranty is not a part of your lease and exists no matter what your oral and written lease says. If the landlord breaches this promise and your apartment becomes unlivable, you may have the right to fix a problem yourself and deduct the cost from rent, move out without a financial detriment, or sue the landlord for compensation.
Give Your Landlord Written Notice of the Cockroaches
The first step is to notify your landlord immediately of the infestation. Report the cockroach issue in writing as well as by talking with your landlord. Retain a copy of the letter or emails for your own records. This secures proof that your landlord was aware of the issue and refused to address it.
Obtain proof of your cockroach problem: photos, videos, a report from a pest control professional. Once you have notified your landlord, allow for reasonable time for repairs/pest eradication.
Under California law, your landlord has about 30 days to deal with an insect infestation. If you have not heard back from your landlord or had an exterminator visit your apartment within 30 days, it is time to take the necessary precautions to secure your apartment as a safe living space.
If the cockroach issue is not handled within 30 days of an official complaint, here are some of your options:
- Take the matter into your own hands. You can hire a professional exterminator to handle the problem. Make sure that the cost of treatment isn’t more than one month’s rent. Save the receipt and deduct the cost from your rent.
You should contact an experienced tenant rights attorney to assess your best possible options and to create a plan of action. If you “repair and deduct” incorrectly, you could be out a lot of money.
- If the landlord refuses to address the infestation, you may move out of the apartment and break your lease. You can also abandon your lease if your living conditions are unsanitary and a compromise to your health.
With legal consultation and representation, you can end your lease through the right channels and get your security deposit back without fear of paying for the rest of your rental contract.
To learn more about your rights regarding cockroach infestations, contact a professional attorney from Brinton Law Firm. Our lawyers can guide you through this unpleasant situation to secure hospitable living conditions.