Tenant rights and responsibilities | dealing with pests in your rental

Some tenants experience problems with rodents, vermin, and pests of all kinds. These pests can live almost anywhere there is a food source as well as warmth, water and shelter. It is common for pest control companies to service apartment buildings, and most types of pests can present serious health hazards, which is why they need to be taken care of as soon as possible. If a tenant is unable to get rid of the pests in their property themselves, the landlord is required to hire a professional to get rid of them. Local health departments can be of great help to tenants who have landlords that are not helpful in these matters, and there are certain non-toxic methods available for pest removal.

It is important to learn how to identify certain pests and the risks they present as well as how to effectively get rid of them. You will need to inspect the unit/property very thoroughly for any trace of pests so you can avoid moving into a place that is already infested. A lot of household pests tend to come out at night, so it might be a good idea for you to ask to see the property after dark in order to get a better idea as to whether or not there is any living there.

Common Household Pests


Physical characteristics:

  • Flat silvery-grey body
  • Able to move quickly
  • Active mostly at night
  • Can contaminate food
  • Prefers damp, warm areas
  • Seal off all possible area of entry
  • Minimize dampness


Physical characteristics:

  • Brownish grey colored body
  • Long tail
  • Prefers warm areas (indoors)
  • Can enter buildings through small openings
  • Active mostly in evening/night
  • Usually found in well-hidden spaces
  • Eats and contaminates food
  • Seal up all holes, even very smelly ones, along exterior walls
  • Cover all vents with screens
  • Seal or caulk pipes
  • Use traps and keep monitoring


Physical characteristics:

  • Small blackish brown bodies
  • Flattened body and short legs
  • Typically found in dark corners and behind or under furniture
  • Feeds on blood of household pets and humans
  • Can transmit diseases through bites
  • Vacuum regularly
  • Use flea-control collars on pets (cats and dogs)


Physical characteristics:

  • Oval body with long, spiny legs
  • Light brown with two stripes running down body
  • Comes out mostly at night
  • Attracted to food, water, warmth, dark areas
  • Can carry disease
  • Keep kitchen clean
  • Minimize moisture in bathroom
  • Keep all food in tightly sealed containers
  • Keep floors clean of food crumbs
  • Seal up all cracks and cavities


Physical characteristics:

  • Brown rats can be anywhere from 12-17 inches long
  • Grey rates are smaller than brown ones
  • Can infest homes year-round
  • Found near waste
  • Can contaminate food
  • Seal stored foods/goods
  • Minimize accumulation of waste
  • Seal up small openings in exterior walls
  • Cover all vents with screens
  • Seal or caulk any leaking pipes
  • Use traps as needed and monitor closely


Physical characteristics:

  • Small, oval, flattened bodies
  • Reddish-brown colouration
  • Come out mostly at night
  • Bites result in small to large lumps and/or swelling that can lead to bleeding
  • Regularly clean and air all bedding
  • Replace all infected mattresses
  • Vacuum regularly

Carpenter Ants

Physical characteristics:

  • Black body or black with red markings
  • Comes out mostly at night
  • Prefers moist areas
  • Can live in walls, ceilings, doors and insulation
  • Tunneling can destroy wood structures
  • Can carry and transmit germs with bites
  • Remove any food sources (fruit, honey, meat, etc)
  • Remove any wood from outside of home
  • Minimize dry areas around home
  • If there is a current infestation, identify and destroy the nest
  • Spread diatomaceous earth around the foundation of the house