Update: After Bill’s story featured in the local ABC news in late February, the wasp nest on his property was removed.
However, Housing Tasmania did not change its policy, which still states that pest and vermin are a tenant responsibility.
We have send the following letter to Housing Tasmania on 3 May 2017.
Tenant stung by landlords failure to remove wasp nest
This is Bill Bryce. Bill is a 70 year-old-pensioner who has lived in his current home for two years. Bill is a tenant with one of the largest Real Estate Agencies in Tasmania.
A couple of weeks ago Bill noticed wasps in and around his house. He contacted his real estate agent a week ago to let them know that there was a wasps nest either in his house or very close to his house. The wasps were crawling into his bedroom between the rubber cladding holding the window and the wall together. He also expressed his concern that despite the weather in February often being warm or hot, he could not leave his door or windows open as the wasps were flying into his home. Bill asked that the real estate agency come and remove the wasps nest as a matter of urgency.
The real estate agent agency informed Bill that they would be prepared to replace the old rubber cladding between the window and the wall so that the wasps could not crawl into his home, but they would not be removing the wasps nest. Despite repeated requests from both Bill and the Tenants’ Union the real estate agency refused, claiming that the removal of the wasps’ nest was a tenant responsibility because it was not caused through any fault of the landlord. This view was confirmed in the policies available on the landlord’s website.
This is an incorrect interpretation of the Residential Tenancy Act 1997 (Tas) which clearly provides that a landlord must maintain the property in the same condition as the day on which the tenant moved in. And because all rental properties now have to be rented out clean and in good repair, all tenants should expect that the property is being rented to them, without pests or vermin. In other words, unless the pest issue has been caused by the tenant, for example a mice or ant infestation caused by repeatedly leaving pieces of cheese or honey around your house then the costs of pest control are to be paid by the landlord.
Unfortunately for Bill, if the landlord decides to follow the law he will have to wait 28 days before he can request that Consumer Affairs and Fair Trading order the landlord to remove the wasps nest.
If you have a pest or vermin problem don’t be stung by the real estate agent’s or landlord’s wrong interpretation of the law. If you did not create or contribute to the infestation of pests or vermin then know that the landlord is responsible for the costs of pest control.