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Thread: Rats in walls

  1. #1
    Silver Member BecxyRex's Avatar
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    Rats in walls

    Alright, I’m in need of another renting advice. Not sure what my rights are specifically. I’m researching on my own as well, but in the meantime, maybe someone has ideas or has been in a similar situation.

    We just moved to a beautiful duplex half a year ago that we love. I’m absolutely thrilled with the location, the layout of the house and our neighbor is wonderful. One thing that’s been increasingly ticking me off is our property managers passiveness when it comes to maintenance or general issues. Currently we are dealing with rats in the walls and the attic. My neighbor told me she’s mentioned the issue a few times and little to nothing has been done. She’s lived in her side a few months longer than us and is expecting her first baby this week. I have a 2.5 year old daughter myself.

    Nothing about rats was ever mentioned and we didn’t ask upon moving in if there was a problem (I guess we never thought to ask if there are rats), but she specifically asked before moving, and they told her there was no such problem.

    A few weeks ago we started hearing noises at night in the walls. At first I thought that maybe a squirrel is getting comfy in the attic, since it’s getting colder, but fresh feces in our garage has confirmed it’s actually rats. I have to add that we are incredibly clean people. We take out the trash, don’t leave food out, clean the house every day almost. The problem was there before we moved in apparently.
    Also, I guess it’s also not an uncommon issue here in my city in Texas.

    We looked for evidence inside but fortunately no rats inside just very few in the walls and attic. But the thing with rats is they probably will find a way in eventually, or at the very least seriously damage the foundation and wiring.

    We requested someone to come look and Mary the property manager sent a terminex guy to check the problem. He didn’t do much except look at everything we showed him and confirmed there are rats and that he can only get dead ones out but not kill living ones...Glad I didn’t pay for that. Problem persisted obviously and we sent another request. This time a different guy came and sealed some spots in the attic and put down some traps that he will come back for to check. So now the ones in the walls are trapped and are eventually going to die. Our garage door is bent and needs fixing as it’s an entry point for them, but he can’t do that. We sent a request for that as well, and Mary has been dragging a** on that as usual.

    We opened the pantry door today to get food out and I smelled decay in there. We cleaned the whole thing out and there was absolutely nothing that could’ve caused the smell so my guess is a rat died behind the wall, and we are now smelling its body. We shifted the cans and jars to other spots because it grosses me out too much to have anything in there. It’s now sitting empty. I’m afraid we will smell more, but then again, maybe this is the only one. Regardless, this seems like one of those deals that’s not acceptable. Aside from the diseases rats can transmit, I don’t want to smell corpses in my kitchen.

    Mary got some terrible reviews online that I recently just found. I should’ve done more research beforehand, but here we are. What can we do in this situation? I’d hate to move because despite that I love this place. And I’m really really sick of moving again... especially stressful with a toddler and of course for her as well. I understand they can’t break in the walls to get the bodies out, but I feel like some sort of compromise from the property manager would be appropriate. What are your thoughts? What action can we take if any?

    Sorry for the novel, I could’ve condensed this better I’m sure.

  2. #2
    Platinum Member Wiseman2's Avatar
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    Reread your lease and whatever tenant/landlord laws are pertinent to your jurisdiction. When a landlord is remiss in appropriate repairs/maintenance you are most often within your rights to arrange to address it and simply deduct it with a copy of the bill from your rent.

    It's odd your neighbor has been so passive, when the normal thing to do would be to call an exterminator asap then deduct the fee from the next months rent. You should be on top of this since rats can carry diseases, especially with a young child in the house. Call an exterminator asap and get a copy of the bill and subtract it from next months rent.

    Insect and other vermin infestations are generally against the law not to fix. You could get the health department in there but that is a drawn out process. Just call the exterminator. Done. Why is your neighbor so clueless and living with rats ok for her?

  3. #3
    Silver Member BecxyRex's Avatar
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    Thanks for the advice. Honestly, I'm not sure why she's been so passive. She may be relying on Mary too much to fix it. We definitely have another exterminator scheduled and the other one is coming back to check traps. I'm hoping this one will be more aggressive and perhaps lay out some poison in the attic.
    Good call on getting stuff fixed alone and having the bill deducted from our rent.

  4. #4
    Platinum Member DancingFool's Avatar
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    Don't know where you live exactly, but in most places in US there are strict laws regarding this. Best way is to contact the city, either the building code or city health department, it varies on who is in charge and request an inspection or file a complaint. You'll need to go in person and ask around what the procedure is or might be available online too. The procedures vary so much from county to county that it's hard to be more specific. Bottom line is that these things are taken seriously, they'll send an inspector and fine the landlord or shut them down completely if problem isn't taken care of properly. Mice carry disease, so it's not a small matter.

    Btw, the problem with laying out poison is that it will actually attract the rodents and then they'll die in the walls and rot and stink. You do not want that. Any rodents inside need to be trapped and removed and all access points need to be sealed off. If they aren't, rodents will keep coming in. Also, need to put traps outside so rodents get trapped and removed before they enter the building. Where I live, rodents are a big problem and there are mouse traps everywhere. That said, the approach works well.

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  6. #5
    Platinum Member bluecastle's Avatar
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    Sorry to hear about this.

    So, I'm a landlord. One of my buildings is very old1840, located in a city that is literally a swamp (but gotta love that jazz!)and so I inevitably deal with such issues as well as tenants.

    Starting with the issue: this is a notoriously tough one. In my experience, all professional exterminators really do with vermin is basically what any human can do themselves: they lay down a bunch of traps and tell you to tell your landlord to find the openings and plug them up. It's different than roaches or termites, in that there really isn't a "treatment" that gets rid of them. Traps, time, plug the holes.

    Moving on to tenants: some are passive, others active. Passive is nice, in ways, in that you don't have to do much but cash checks and make sure the place is still standing. Trouble is that issues can get bad, as seems to happen here. I had a small issue with mice not too long agotraps, time, a hole plugged, solved in two weeksbut part of the reason was that the previous tenants never told me they'd seen a mouse. I asked them about it when the new tenant moved in and spotted one, and they were all, "We saw one or two, but it wasn't a big deal." Ugh. Your neighbor seems to be one such tenant.

    That some holes were recently plugged sounds good. That there is something in the walls: not good. I agree with DF that a trip to the health or building department is a good idea, much as the landlord in me cringes at imagining a tenant doing that. Then again, I am very active with my buildings and have put out all fires the moment there is even a trace of smoke. One step at a time and, I suspect, you'll have this sorted out sooner than later.

  7. #6
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    I would bring out the heavy equipment and make a call to vector control. They would be listed in your county government listings. I had a neighbor that had avocado trees that dropped dead leaves that were never picked up. The leaves were waist high. The rats would nest in these leaves and the avocados would drop into their mouths. They also had water by the nearby gutter. It was not dealt with until I called vector control.chi

  8. #7
    Platinum Member Wiseman2's Avatar
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    Yes, document everything. Pictures, videos, bills, etc. Make sure communication with this property manager is also documented. Circumvent the property manager if she is useless/lazy. Hit the landlord where it hurts, right in the wallet. Check rent/zoning ordinances for your area. Keep in mind no one can evict you legally for taking appropriate action, however they can not renew your lease. Use the most effective but least dramatic approach, depending on if you plan to stay there.
    Originally Posted by BecxyRex
    Good call on getting stuff fixed alone and having the bill deducted from our rent.


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