Summer pests and your rental property – what to expect and whose responsibility is it?

Summer pests and your rental property

Summer is on its way and with it comes great opportunities for surfing, BBQs, and all sorts of outdoor activities.

Unfortunately, there are a host of pests that love summer as much as we do. Insect activity always increases in proportion to the temperature. So, with the Bureau of Meteorology predicting higher than normal temperatures, we can expect to see an upswing in unwelcome visitors to our homes and gardens.

These are the pests you can expect to see more of this season. Whether you’re a landlord or a tenant about to move, you need to be aware of their presence and your responsibility around pest control treatments.

Termites

Termites

Termites can cause thousands of dollars of harm to a property thanks to their wood-gnawing behaviour. They’ll also eat paper, fabric, insulation, drywall, and anything that comes between them and their next meal.

So, it’s important to recognise the signs of a termite problem early and take action.

These insects thrive in warm, humid environments, so they’re most common along the Australian coastline.

Subterranean termites start to make an appearance in the early spring, but you should keep your eyes peeled for signs of dry wood termites in the late summer. Signs of a termite infestation include:

  • Termite mounds in your yard
  • Unexplained power interruptions
  • A hollow sound when you knock on wooden building materials
  • Cracked paint or plaster
  • Sagging wooden floors

As a landlord or property manager, it’s important to check for these issues when you do your routine inspections. Act fast if you notice any of these symptoms and get pest control services to inspect your property and implement the necessary anti-termite tactics.

Cockroaches

Cockroaches

Cockroaches are one of the world’s most successful species and are common summer pests on almost every continent.
They’re omnivorous and will eat anything from leftover food to faeces. It’s important to keep cockroaches out of your home, since they can carry several serious diseases, are a nuisance, and can make a huge mess with their droppings.

Your home provides the perfect habitat for these creatures and they often go undetected due to their nocturnal habits. If you see a cockroach during the daytime, that’s usually a sign that you already have a serious infestation.

Other giveaways when it comes to cockroaches are:

  • An unpleasant musty odour
  • Cockroach droppings or brown smears
  • Egg cases lying around
  • Dead cockroaches or shed skin

Once again, you need professional help to get rid of cockroaches, and the sooner you call a pest control service, the better.

Who’s responsible for getting rid of the roaches? It depends on the circumstances, find out more below.

Spiders

Spiders

Arachnids play an important role in the ecosystem and are also a type of natural pest control for your home.
Yet, around 50 species of dangerous spiders are found in Australia. So, unless you’re an arachnid expert, you could be taking a chance allowing spiders access to your home.

These are the most common household spiders in Australia:

  • Small, shiny black funnel spiders are extremely venomous
  • The redback spider with a black body and red dorsal stripe is also venomous
  • The black white-tailed spider is moderately venomous
  • Garden orb spiders weave huge webs are mildly venomous
  • Ugly, brown huntsmen spiders are mildly venomous
  • Small black house spiders are mildly venomous

Even harmless spiders can multiply rapidly and quickly become a nuisance, especially if you’re living with an arachnophobe. Some spider bites can also become infected and very painful.

It’s relatively easy to keep spider populations under control.

Wasps

Wasps

Wasps are another key player in the environment and usually confine their activities to outdoor areas.

However, they’re unpredictable creatures with a painful sting. Unlike bees, wasps can sting you more than once, so it’s important to exercise caution if you notice any signs of wasps.

These are the main types of wasps found in Australia:

    • Mud dauber wasps are large and build nests out of mud, usually attached to walls or ceilings
    • European wasps are fast-flying yellow wasps that build their nests underground
    • Paper wasps are non-aggressive yellow and black wasps that usually nest in trees and shrubs

Read more about how to deal with Wasp nests.

Ants

Ants

Ants are a real pain. They live in huge colonies and can march for miles in search of a meal.

It’s difficult to deal with an ant problem on your own, and while one or two ants might not pose a problem, you’ll need professional help to deal with an infestation.

The best defence against ants is to make sure you seal any entry points where they can access your home and wipe up sticky spills immediately.

The most common types of ants are black house ants, carpenter ants, and brown coastal ants. While house ants prefer sweet treats to eat, carpenter ants and brown coastal ants will snack on any household leftovers or debris.

Am I responsible for a pest inspection?

Most states within Australia have different legislation so it’s important to know and understand your obligations under your lease agreement. Most lease agreements state that the tenant should return the property to its owner in an undamaged and clean condition.

So, it’s fair to say that the tenant should take responsibility for pest infestations caused by neglect or lack of cleanliness. For example, if your dog causes a flea infestation, the onus is on you to remedy this situation. This scenario is almost always written into lease agreements when domestic pets are approved.

The responsibility gets a little cloudier if the property is seeing a seasonal increase in pests around the home. Such as those listed above. This may fall under the responsibility of the landlord to ensure that the property is safe to rent for the next tenant. Likewise, if the problem existed at the time when the tenant moved in, it should be the landlord’s responsibility to get rid of these long-established pests.