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Old 12-20-2013, 01:05 PM
 
38 posts, read 113,318 times
Reputation: 85

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I am currently two months into a 12 month lease. There is a pretty serious rat infestation in the attic and one part of the walls (where the rats travel from under the house, up a passage way behind the walls in our bathrooms and up into the attic where they typically stay). We can hear them running around in the attic and the walls all day (it's pretty unsettling/gross), and we can't use the attic because their urine and feces is all spread out around the attic (also, whenever we open the attic door, their pellets fall out, and as a result, the ones we miss when we sweep have ended up in our bed a couple of times).

We found out after signing the lease that the house had been used as a storage for the landlord (who owns over $25 million in property around Austin) for the last 30 some-odd years, and we are the first lucky tenants to live in it since the renovation. This would mean that it's possible there have been rats in that house for longer than I have been alive, which would explain why, after a month and a half, attempts to get rid of them have failed completely (the "rat-noise" level is the same now as it was when we moved in).

The landlord has been *ok* about trying to get rid of them, sending out an exterminator a couple of times (though all the exterminator did was set out a couple of traps, netting 1 single rat out of three trips to the house). I'm convinced those rats are there to stay...30 years and up to 20 generations of rats seems like a pretty difficult infestation to eradicate.

My question is this-- is a rat infestation-- that affects our ability to use the entire house we are renting (namely: the attic), that affects our enjoyment of the house (it's disturbing hearing them scuttle around all day every day), and has potential health implications-- a reason for being able to break the lease with no consequences? And if so, at what point? Thanks in advance for any advice.
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Old 12-20-2013, 01:15 PM
 
7,068 posts, read 3,601,903 times
Reputation: 4436
know your rights:

Austin Tenants’ Council/Repairs: The Tenant’s Right and the Landlord’s Duty


Quote:
Originally Posted by pwbrewer87 View Post
I am currently two months into a 12 month lease. There is a pretty serious rat infestation in the attic and one part of the walls (where the rats travel from under the house, up a passage way behind the walls in our bathrooms and up into the attic where they typically stay). We can hear them running around in the attic and the walls all day (it's pretty unsettling/gross), and we can't use the attic because their urine and feces is all spread out around the attic (also, whenever we open the attic door, their pellets fall out, and as a result, the ones we miss when we sweep have ended up in our bed a couple of times).

We found out after signing the lease that the house had been used as a storage for the landlord (who owns over $25 million in property around Austin) for the last 30 some-odd years, and we are the first lucky tenants to live in it since the renovation. This would mean that it's possible there have been rats in that house for longer than I have been alive, which would explain why, after a month and a half, attempts to get rid of them have failed completely (the "rat-noise" level is the same now as it was when we moved in).

The landlord has been *ok* about trying to get rid of them, sending out an exterminator a couple of times (though all the exterminator did was set out a couple of traps, netting 1 single rat out of three trips to the house). I'm convinced those rats are there to stay...30 years and up to 20 generations of rats seems like a pretty difficult infestation to eradicate.

My question is this-- is a rat infestation-- that affects our ability to use the entire house we are renting (namely: the attic), that affects our enjoyment of the house (it's disturbing hearing them scuttle around all day every day), and has potential health implications-- a reason for being able to break the lease with no consequences? And if so, at what point? Thanks in advance for any advice.
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Old 12-20-2013, 01:23 PM
 
38 posts, read 113,318 times
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I looked at that site but there isn't anything specific about rats, pests, or infestations, so I was hoping someone had some knowledge concerning a situation similar to mine.
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Old 12-20-2013, 01:47 PM
 
Location: The Lone Star State!
193 posts, read 414,069 times
Reputation: 88
According to the Texas Property Code: The landlord is obligated to repair any defects in the premises caused by normal wear and tear that affect health and safety (clearly a health issue in your case due to rat infestation)

Remedies for breach: The tenant may, when the landlord fails to make needed repair after having been given reasonable notice, do any of the following: (1) terminate the lease, (2) have the condition remedied and deduct from rent, (3) sue for damages and injunction to make repairs not exceeding $10,000
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Old 12-20-2013, 01:51 PM
 
38 posts, read 113,318 times
Reputation: 85
Hmm...so I guess if this last effort fails (landlord called a different exterminator to come out, he set a few more traps out than the last guy), then I could terminate the lease.

I'm not being unreasonable though, right?
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Old 12-20-2013, 02:15 PM
 
10,147 posts, read 18,849,265 times
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The landlord should be looking at an "exclusion" service, not just setting traps. That is a service where the pest control company will completely rat-proof (or critter proof) the house, covering all possible points of entry. Then they will trap the rats, and no more will be able to come in. Typically, they migrate in from trees touching the property or brush/junk piles nearby. Those should be cleared/remedied. If they are just setting traps, it would be a temporary solution at best.

If the landlord is willing to do all that, the infestation can probably be cleared. If not, then you can follow the other remedies which are within your rights -- but I'd let the landlord know first that you are thinking about doing that. He/she may be willing to let you out of the lease early rather than deal with them. But if not, then it's going to be difficult. Best of luck to you and I hope it all works out.
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Old 12-20-2013, 05:27 PM
 
Location: central Austin
7,228 posts, read 15,145,965 times
Reputation: 3907
Quote:
Originally Posted by atxcio View Post
The landlord should be looking at an "exclusion" service, not just setting traps. That is a service where the pest control company will completely rat-proof (or critter proof) the house, covering all possible points of entry. Then they will trap the rats, and no more will be able to come in. Typically, they migrate in from trees touching the property or brush/junk piles nearby. Those should be cleared/remedied. If they are just setting traps, it would be a temporary solution at best.

If the landlord is willing to do all that, the infestation can probably be cleared. If not, then you can follow the other remedies which are within your rights -- but I'd let the landlord know first that you are thinking about doing that. He/she may be willing to let you out of the lease early rather than deal with them. But if not, then it's going to be difficult. Best of luck to you and I hope it all works out.
THIS ^^^^ Ask the landlord for exclusion of the rats! Tell him that ABC Pest can do it. It won't be cheap but it is absolutely necessary.

Traps will not a make a difference if they can keep getting into the house.
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Old 12-20-2013, 06:28 PM
 
10,147 posts, read 18,849,265 times
Reputation: 5815
Quote:
Originally Posted by centralaustinite View Post
Traps will not a make a difference if they can keep getting into the house.
Right, that's the key here. The rats we have in Texas are outside rats, not like rats in big dense cities. Ever wonder why they don't get into your food? Because they typically eat outside, live in trees/brush usually but will often make their home in attics or walls of houses if they can get in. Especially during the winter. Sometimes they are called "roof rats" or "tree rats".
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Old 12-21-2013, 11:43 AM
 
Location: SW Austin & Wimberley
6,329 posts, read 17,228,547 times
Reputation: 5521
Quote:
Originally Posted by AguaDulce View Post
You have to:
1) Know your rights.
2) Follow the steps that protect/enforce your rights.

Anything else is useless. 99% of tenants do not know their rights, nor how to properly protect their rights, and instead engage in unproductive and legally meaningless complaining and griping. Call Austin Tenant's Council for guidance, or go read the site, and follow the steps.

Until you've done step one, which is written notice of a condition you believe to be a threat to your health and safety, you're spinning your wheels. Rodent infestation is a health and safety issue.

Now, if the landlord takes reasonable and timely steps to address the issue, which sounds like might be happening, you have to accept that. Industry standards control your rights, not your opinion or desire to get out of the lease, or the type of treatment others say is needed.

Traps are in fact a normal first step. You have to kill/remove them before sealing everything up, else you get a bunch of dead rats trapped inside the structure, and then you have a bad smell. Exclusion is usually done to prevent re-infestation after the current batch is eradicated.

Good luck!
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Old 12-21-2013, 12:20 PM
 
38 posts, read 113,318 times
Reputation: 85
Thanks everyone! Very helpful and useful information
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