Rats in Your Rental? Know Your Rights and How to Respond

rat in the kitchen

Discovering rats in your rental property can be a distressing experience, raising concerns about health, safety, and living conditions. As a tenant, it’s crucial to understand your rights and responsibilities in such situations. 

This article will guide you through what to do if you encounter a rat infestation in your rental, outlining both your legal rights and practical steps to take.

Related Webinars
Mastering NSPIRE: A Comprehensive Guide to Understanding NSPIRE Protocol and Scoring
Jun 11th 2024 @ 12:00 PM ET
Speaker: Kathi Markan
Learn More
Implementing VAWA on Site (2024 Updates)
Jun 20th 2024 @ 01:00 PM ET
Speaker: Gwen Volk
Learn More
Respectful Residences: Addressing Harassment Effectively
Jun 26th 2024 @ 01:00 PM ET
Speaker: Doug Chasick
Learn More

Understanding Your Rights

  1. Right to a Habitable Home: In most jurisdictions, tenants are entitled to a habitable living environment. This means the rental property must meet basic health and safety standards, which include being free from rodent infestations. Landlords are legally obligated to ensure their properties are habitable.
  2. Landlord’s Responsibilities: Landlords are generally responsible for maintaining the rental property in a condition that prevents infestations. This includes ensuring structural integrity, proper sanitation, and addressing any pest problems that arise.
  3. Tenant’s Responsibilities: Includes maintaining cleanliness and not contributing to conditions that attract pests, such as leaving food out or failing to dispose of garbage properly.

Steps to Take if You Discover Rats

  1. Document the Problem: As soon as you notice signs of rats, such as droppings, gnawed wires, or actual sightings, document the evidence. Take photographs and note the dates of your observations.
  2. Notify Your Landlord: Inform your landlord or property manager immediately about the infestation. Provide them with the documented evidence and request prompt action to address the issue. It’s best to communicate in writing, such as through an email, so there’s a record of your notification.
  3. Allow Access for Repairs: If the landlord arranges for pest control or maintenance work, ensure you provide access to your unit as required. Cooperate with the efforts to resolve the infestation.
  4. Follow Up: If the landlord does not take timely action, follow up with another written request. Keep records of all communications and actions taken.

Legal Recourse

If your landlord fails to address the rat infestation in a reasonable time frame, you may have several legal options:

  1. Repair and Deduct: In some jurisdictions, tenants are allowed to arrange for necessary repairs or pest control services and deduct the cost from their rent. However, this should be done cautiously and typically requires following specific legal procedures, such as providing notice and obtaining multiple quotes.
  2. Withhold Rent: In certain cases, tenants can withhold rent until the infestation is resolved. This is a complex legal action that varies by location and often requires placing the withheld rent into an escrow account to demonstrate good faith.
  3. Report to Health Authorities: If the infestation poses a serious health risk, you can report the issue to local health or housing authorities. They may inspect the property and order the landlord to take corrective action.
  4. Terminate the Lease: If the problem is severe and unresolved, you may have grounds to break your lease without penalty. Consult local tenant laws or seek legal advice before taking this step.
  5. Legal Action: If all else fails, you may need to pursue legal action against your landlord for failing to maintain a habitable property. Small claims court or housing court can provide remedies, including rent reduction or compensation for damages.


Rats in your rental property are more than just a nuisance; they pose health risks and can compromise the habitability of your home. Understanding your rights and responsibilities, and knowing how to effectively respond, is essential. Prompt action, clear communication with your landlord, and awareness of your legal options can help ensure that the problem is resolved quickly and effectively, restoring your peace of mind and living conditions.

Stay Updated

Don’t miss any latest Affordable Housing update

Share Now

About Us

At Affordable Housing Updates, we are dedicated to offering top-quality insights. news, articles and free webinars on Affordable Housing Property Management

Recent Posts

FInd the Latest

Affordable Housing Updates

In Your Inbox

confirm your email

Your signup is almost complete! Please check your email for a confirmation message.