Pest Elimination of the Property Maintenance Code
SECTION 309 PEST ELIMINATION
309.1 Infestation. All structures shall be kept free from insect and rodent infestation. All structures in which insects or rodents are found shall be promptly exterminated by approved processes that will not be injurious to human health. After pest elimination, proper precautions shall be taken to prevent reinfestation.
Commentary: There are two basic types of insect infestations: nuisance and wood destroying. Nuisance insects include flies, fleas, bees, cockroaches and silverfish. Wood-destroying insects include termites, powder-post beetles and carpenter ants.
Eliminating nuisance insects may require treating the building with insect spray on a regular basis. Eliminating wood-destroying insects may require poisoning the soil around the building. Severe insect infestations may necessitate replacement of structural members.
Evidence of a rodent infestation can include droppings, gnaw marks and oily rub stains (imprints left where the rodent’s body rubbed against the structure). Such infestations should be ordered exterminated. Additionally, corrective measures must be taken to reduce the possibility of a reinfestation.
309.2 Owner. The owner of any structure shall be responsible for pest elimination within the structure prior to renting or leasing the structure.
Commentary: The owner must exterminate all rodents and insects before a building or portion of a building can be rented or leased. Although it would appear easy to enforce this provision, the reality is that a new occupant may not notice any insect or rodent problems until after the building has been occupied. It may be difficult and even impossible to determine if an infestation existed before the new occupants moved in. One practical way to resolve this problem is to require the owner to have the building inspected for infestations before occupancy.
309.3 Single occupant. The occupant of a one-family dwelling or of a single-tenant nonresidential structure shall be responsible for pest elimination on the premises.
Commentary: In a single-family dwelling or a single-tenant nonresidential unit, the occupant of the unit, not the owner, is responsible for maintaining the property free of infestation. Accordingly, the code official should cite the occupant for rodent or insect infestations.
309.4 Multiple occupancy. The owner of a structure containing two or more dwelling units, a multiple occupancy, a rooming house or a nonresidential structure shall be responsible for pest elimination in the public or shared areas of the structure and exterior property. If infestation is caused by failure of an occupant to prevent such infestation in the area occupied, the occupant and owner shall be responsible for pest elimination.
Commentary: The owners of public or shared areas in multiunit residential and nonresidential buildings must exterminate rodents and insects from the public or shared areas of the structure and exterior property. If a single unit in one of the business is infested, it is the occupant’s responsibility to provide for the extermination.
309.5 Occupant. The occupant of any structure shall be responsible for the continued rodent and pest-free condition of the structure.
Exception: Where the infestations are caused by defects in the structure, the owner shall be responsible for pest elimination.
Commentary: Occupants must maintain their units in a clean and sanitary manner, free of rodents. If the occupants fail to maintain their unit, then they are responsible for all extermination costs.
From a practical point of view, this section is difficult to enforce. Occupants who are going to be charged extermination fees may move out before paying such a fee. Unfortunately, once the unit is vacant, the owner becomes responsible for the extermination. Since the owner is responsible for correcting any defects in the structure, he or she is then responsible for any infestation caused by these defects.
Approaching the Issue of Bedbugs