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Renting: during your tenancy

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Whilst you’re living in a place you should make sure that you communicate with the person you’re renting from in writing (letter, email, text, messaging) and keep copies in case there are any issues later on.

You can find lots of information about how to deal with various issues that arise during your tenancy. But one thing that many tenants need to discuss with us is what to do about an infestation of vermin, such as cockroaches, mice, or other pests.

Is your rental property infested with pests?

Under tenancy law, the question of who is responsible for dealing with this problem can be tricky. Depending on the individual case, it may be either your landlord’s responsibility (as part of their obligation to provide habitable premises and maintain them in a reasonable state of repair), or it may be your responsibility as the tenant (as part of your obligation to keep the premises reasonably clean).

Establishing that it’s not your fault

As a first step, try to deal with the infestation through your own ordinary cleaning. This is important because if the problem returns soon after ordinary cleaning, you’ll have evidence that it didn’t arise from your own failure to keep the premises clean. Make sure you record dates and take photos of: 1. the pest infestation before you clean 2. the same areas after you’ve done your cleaning 3. the pest infestation when it returns If the infestation returns shortly after ordinary cleaning, you should treat it as a defect that the landlord should repair and follow the steps for getting repairs done.

Getting repairs done (to get rid of the pests)

The first step to getting the landlord or agent to deal with the vermin is to make sure that they know about it. As you will need to prove that you made a written request to them to try and resolve the issue, you should notify them in writing, and keep a copy. If they refuse to fix the problem, or don’t do it satisfactorily, you can apply to NSW Fair Trading to investigate whether the landlord has failed to provide and maintain the property in a reasonable state of repair. If Fair Trading agree they will issue a rectification order to force the landlord to fix the problem. If Fair Trading is unable to resolve the issue you can apply to the tribunal for an order that the landlord or agent deals with the pest infestation. You also have the option of applying straight to the Tribunal without going to Fair Trading first.

Disclaimer

This information is current as at 23 March 2020 and is intended as a guide to the law as it applies to people who live in or are affected by the law as it applies in NSW. It does not constitute legal advice.

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