Pests such as carpet beetles, fleas, bedbugs and cockroaches can live and thrive in your furniture. Sometimes the furniture gets so infested that the best thing to do is throw it away and start over again, but doing this can very be expensive. Getting money through your renter’s insurance policy to help cover the cost to replace the furniture is typically forbidden.
Home Maintenance Issue
Insurance companies generally do not cover losses for what they consider to be preventable situations such as insect infestations. You normally can avoid infestations of insects and rodents by performing routine inspections and using pest-control measures. Keeping an apartment free of debris and garbage can help eliminate a pest problem before it begins. Insurance policies often have an exception for when the infestation of pests such as termites or mice results in damage to the structure of the dwelling and causes a structural collapse or a fire. In those cases, a renter’s insurance policy might pay for you to replace your furniture.
Alert Your Landlord
You might know you have a pest infestation, but your landlord may not. If you notice bugs or rodents in and around your apartment, and you don’t say anything, you might lose the right to present a legal claim for damages against your landlord. You should call your landlord immediately if pests appear in or around your apartment. The website Tenantlandlord.org recommends sending a written certified letter to follow up on the phone call to prove you notified your landlord.
Warranty of Habitability
Landlords are typically required to maintain their property in a habitable condition. This would include the hiring of exterminators to eradicate insects, rodents and other undesirable pests invading your home. The warranty does have limitations. For example, California splits the responsibility for the proper care and upkeep of an apartment between the tenants and the landlord. If the apartment was free of pests prior to your moving in and your behavior and actions resulted in conditions that attracted insects and rodents, then you can be held responsible for the costs to eliminate those conditions.
A good way to protect yourself from inheriting pest problems is by doing a thorough pre-rental inspection. Many insects prefer to live in dark, tight places near sources of water. Even if you don’t see any cockroaches or other pests at first, you might be able to detect their remains or droppings. These are sure signs that cockroaches have inhabited the apartment at some point, and you might want question the landlord on what, if anything, has been done to eliminate them and prevent any further infestations before you agree to move in.
- Universty of California Agriculture & Natural Resources: Pests of Home, Structures, People and Pets - Carpet Beetles
- DurAmerica Brokerage: Renter's Insurance - What Standard Policies Cover
- Insure.com: Got bugs? Home Insurance Won't Help
- Tenantlandlord.org: Pest Control
- State of California Department of Consumer Affairs: Dealing With Problems
- Purdue University, Department of Entomology: IPM Inspections
Griffith Pritchard served as a senior branch manager and banking officer for M&T Bank. He specialized in small business and personal financial, credit and banking products. He also has extensive experience in small business sales and non-profit management. Pritchard is a graduate of Hobart College.