Landlords have partial responsibility for controlling pests at a rental property. What that means is that when a pest situation is found to exist at a rental property, it is oftentimes the landlord’s duty to ensure that the nuisance is eliminated. In a situation in which a tenant clearly caused the pest issue, the tenant is responsible for the problem. Nonetheless, a landlord will nearly always want to intervene to prevent the situation from becoming worse or spreading to other tenants (in a multi-unit setting). With these points noted, a landlord is required by California law to provide a tenant with certain pest control information.

A landlord to tenant pest control informational statement must address four primary issues:

  • Pest to be controlled
  • Pesticides to be used and active ingredients
  • Specific statutory language in notification
  • Frequency of pest control treatment

Pest To Be Controlled

The informational statement about pest control provided by a California landlord to a tenant needs to list the specific type of pest that is to be controlled at a particular point in time. The most commonplace types of pests that are subject to eradication in California include

  • Mice
  • Rats
  • Cockroaches
  • Ants
  • Bedbugs

Bear in mind that this is not an exhaustive list. There are other types of invaders that can become a problem in a residence. Some so-called pests are also subject to protections regarding the manner in which they legally can be removed in California.

Pesticides To Be Used and Active Ingredients

As part of the landlord to tenant notification process, a landlord must provide the tenant with a list of the pesticides that will be used to eradicate a pest. The notification needs to include more than just a brand name. The reality is that merely listing a brand name or brand names of pesticides is not likely all that helpful to a tenant.

The warning or notification must also include a listing of the active ingredient in any particular pesticide that will be used. Additionally, some direct, basic information should be provided as to the health risks to people and pets that are presented by a particular active ingredient (or ingredient) in a pesticide.

The wisest course is to issue a new notice of pesticide to be used each time a pest control effort will be made. In other words, a landlord should avoid just stating something to the effect of “same pesticide as last time.” A question would arise as to how reasonable it is to presume a tenant remembers or still has access to a prior notification and a pesticide being used to eradicate pests at a particular rental property.

Specific Statutory Language To Be Included in Tenant Notification

California law sets forth the specific language that must be included in a notification to a tenant about pest control. In theory a landlord could craft his or her own notification language. The problem with doing so is the legal exposure a landlord would have if something is left out of a self-written tenant pest control notification.

Pursuant to California Law, a pest control notification from a landlord to a tenant must include these three paragraphs:

State law requires that you be given the following information: CAUTION-PESTICIDES ARE TOXIC CHEMICALS. Structural Pest Control Companies are registered and regulated by the Structural Pest Control Board, and apply pesticides which are registered and approved for use by the Department of Pesticide Regulation and the United States Environmental Protection Agency. Registration is granted when the state finds that, based on existing scientific evidence, there are no appreciable risks if proper use conditions are followed or that the risks are outweighed by the benefits. The degree of risk depends upon the degree of exposure, so exposure should be minimized.

If within 24 hours following application you experience symptoms similar to common seasonal illness comparable to the flu, contact your physician or poison control center (telephone number) and your pest control company immediately.” (This statement shall be modified to include any other symptoms of overexposure which are not typical of influenza.)

For further information, contact any of the following: Your Pest Control Company (telephone number); for Health Questions-the County Health Department (telephone number); for Application Information-the County Agricultural Commissioner (telephone number), and for Regulatory Information-the Structural Pest Control Board (telephone number and address).

It warrants stressing again that a landlord is best served using the statutory language word-for-word; hence, the reason this information is presented here as a resource for landlords.

Frequency of Pest Control Treatment

When it comes to pest control and tenant notification, written information about the frequency of that type of undertaking needs to be made available to a tenant. This is crucial because a tenant must know when pest control will be undertaken in order to make sure the renter, his or her family, and pets are in a safe location when a pest control process using potentially harmful chemicals is underway.