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Landlord Obligations to Control Pests

Landlord Obligations to Control Pests
Some natural pests seem to be a permanent feature of urban life. Back-yard rats, nibbling bed bugs, and the occasional poisonous spider are all things a tenant can encounter, especially in homes with plenty of nearby habitat for insects and animals. Sometimes pests can get out of hand, making life miserable for the tenant and in some cases creating potential health hazards. Landlords in Nevada have an obligation to address pests in some situations.

Sources of landlord obligations to control pests

There are two places for a tenant to look for a landlord’s obligations regarding pest control. The first is the rental agreement. Landlords who know that their properties are prone to pest problems will probably seek to shift onto the tenant the burden of pest control. That makes sense. A tenant can do all sorts of things that invite pests: piling up garbage, bringing home bed bugs from a hotel, or leaving piles of material outside where spiders and rats are likely to find homes. A smart landlord adds a provision to every rental agreement that makes the tenant responsible for the consequences of everyday living and messy habits, even if those things don’t rise to the level of irresponsible behavior. State law provides a backdrop to rental agreements and prevents landlords from passing on every kind of pest problem to their tenants. Nevada landlords have an obligation to provide tenants with habitable premises. To meet the statutory standards of “habitable” the premises must be maintained in good repair. Among the landlord’s obligations is a duty to keep building grounds and other areas that are under the landlord’s control “clean, sanitary and reasonably free from all accumulations of debris, filth, rubbish, garbage, rodents, insects and vermin.” NRS 118A.290.

A landlord's obligations to control pests are subject to limits

The landlord’s obligation with regard to cleanliness is only with respect to the areas that are under the landlord’s control at the time the tenant moves in. For example, if after moving in the tenant discovers a rat-infested pile of garbage under the kitchen sink, the landlord has an obligation to clean it up. Likewise, if the landlord does nothing to address an infestation of black widows in common areas, and the tenant gets bitten, the landlord may be responsible. By law, tenants are responsible for the consequences of their own deliberate or negligent acts or omissions. NRS 118A.355(2)(a). A tenant who moves in with luggage full of bed bugs can’t hold the landlord responsible for the resulting inconvenience. And if a tenant knows that a back yard is infested with scorpions but walks around barefoot every night, the landlord is probably not responsible if the tenant gets stung. These are some steps tenants can take to protect themselves from pest problems and potential conflicts with their landlords:
  • Read the rental agreement to understand who is responsible for pest control.
  • Carefully inspect the premises before moving in and notify the landlord of any pest problems right away.
  • Assume that the landlord is not responsible for controlling pests unless they are coming from areas under the landlord’s control. If the rental agreement shifts responsibility for pest control onto the tenant, budget for the expense.

In serious cases, talk to a Las Vegas attorney

When a landlord neglects its obligation to control pests and creates real problems for its tenants, tenants may have the option of breaking the lease. Before doing this it’s a good idea to talk to an attorney to determine if other options are available. In some cases a landlord can be convinced to resolve a problem without resorting to breaking the lease or filing a lawsuit. The attorneys at Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez provide personal, attentive service to clients in the Las Vegas area. For a free attorney consultation, call us at 702-388-4476 or send us a request through our site.

Las Vegas Landlord Obligations to Fix Unsafe Conditions

Las Vegas Apartment Landlord Obligations to Fix Unsafe Conditions
When a dangerous condition on a landlord’s property injures someone, questions invariably arise about the landlord’s obligations to keep the premises safe. Like other personal injury cases, a plaintiff suing a landlord will need to show that the landowner acted negligently, by failing to fulfill its duty of care toward the injured person. But where does a landlord’s obligation apply, and what are its limits?

A landlord’s duty of care

Nevada law requires landlords to exercise reasonable care not to subject others to an unreasonable risk of harm. Wright v. Schum, 105 Nev. 611, 614 (1989). Whether a landlord’s actions are reasonable depends on the circumstances. The likelihood of an injury and its probable seriousness are important factors in this analysis. Turpel v. Sayles, 101 Nev. 35, 38 (1985), quoting Sargent v. Ross, 308 A.2d 528, 534 (N.H. 1973). Under this rule, a landowner has an obligation to address dangerous conditions that it knows about. And it has an obligation not to create unsafe conditions, like locking a door that could foreseeably be used as a fire escape route.

Where tenant responsibility takes hold

A distinction should be drawn between areas of a property that are under the landowner’s exclusive control and those under tenant control. A landlord has exclusive responsibility for conditions that are present in a property’s common areas. This is true even if a tenant or visitor initially creates the condition—even if the landlord has a legal claim against the person who created the risk, the responsibility still rests with the landlord to fix it. Under the modern rule, a tenant’s possession of the premises is one of the circumstantial facts used to determine the reasonableness of a landlord’s behavior. Turpel, 101 Nev. at 38. A landlord that has no notice of a dangerous condition within a tenant’s apartment probably isn’t acting unreasonably if it doesn’t fix the problem, at least so long as the condition was a consequence of the tenant’s negligence. A landlord can assume responsibility for a dangerous condition like a vicious dog by asserting control over it, however badly. The Nevada Supreme Court dealt with this question in Wright. In that case, a tenant’s escaped pit bull injured the plaintiff, who sued both the tenant and his landlord. In Wright the dog escaped the property thanks to defective fencing on the property’s perimeter. The Court found that the landlord could be held liable for the plaintiff’s injuries because the landlord had notice of the dog’s aggressiveness and had taken steps to address the problem by asking the tenant to keep the dog chained. Wright, 105 Nev. at 614-15.

GGRM is a Las Vegas personal injury law firm

If you have been injured by a dangerous condition that was potentially due to a landlord’s negligence, it’s important to speak to an attorney as soon as possible. The attorneys at GGRM are broadly experienced in handling complex personal injury cases. For a free attorney consultation, please give us a call today at 702-388-4476. We can also be reached through our contacts page.