By Amy E. Feldman
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – When can you call in a pest control service and then bill your landlord for it?
In case you were wondering ‘how stupid are people?’, a Hutchinson, Kansas woman may help with the answer. She has been charged with arson after trying to kill a spider by throwing a flaming towel on it, nearly burning down her apartment and that of the other people in the complex. It might also answer the question: how drunk are people? And also: Yes, really.
To your next question – ‘how many people employ fire as a method of pest control?’, that answer is apparently more than you think, and includes the California woman who burned down her house when clearing cobwebs with a blowtorch last year, and the Texas woman who burned down hers after setting fire to a snake.
Now the legal question: if you are an apartment dweller who is willing to leave the pest control to the professionals but your landlord won’t call in a service, can you take matters into your own hands by calling a service and then deduct that cost from your rent?
The answer to that is that it depends on your state’s landlord tenant law. But in most states and municipalities, you do generally have the right to what’s called “repair and deduct” but only where the problem is not just icky but is so serious that it jeopardizes your health and safety (like a rodent infestation), and that the landlord has not fixed after you’ve provided notice, access to your apartment, and a reasonable amount of time to fix it.
To figure out your local laws, you can Google tenants’ rights in your state and county.
And also, try using the bottom of your shoe rather than the tip of your match.