I would like to know if it's legal to include pest control in tenant's responsibility in lease/rental contract.
I rent a house in Sunnyvale, CA. Soon after I moved in I came to know that there have been roof rats even before I came. They've never been in the living area yet I believe, but the presence of rats was already a big headache to me because they might cause some health problem or cause some serious damage to the house. A neighbor told me that the house and its roof is 50 years old, and roof rat have been the biggest problem of the house and it was why the previous tenant left. So this roof rat problem is a pre-existing condition.
But in the lease/rental contract, there is "Additional Terms and Conditions" where it states "Tenant is responsible for control and/or elimination of all insects and rodents including but not limited to ants, spiders, earwigs, mites, fleas and mice."
My question is if this clause is against the law.
This morning, two experts on rodent issue from the city authority came to my place and gave me a free inspection. They found traces of roof rats gave me the documented inspection result.
They said that they've never seen such a rental contract as mine, making pest control tenant's responsibility. They also indicated that by law the house must be "rodent-proof", to be rented.
But the worst thing they told me was, if there's fire and house's get burned, and if it turns out to be because of exposed wire by rats, (they found such exposed wire done by rats in the garage by the way) the insurance company won't pay for the loss. With that clause in my rental contract, I'm afraid that in the worst case I may get charged for the loss for not keeping the house pest-free. How nice!
I have renter's insurance and called my agent to see if my insurance covers pest control or damages from it, and once again I got the same reaction. Why in the world the renter is responsible for the pest control?
This is where I am and from what I've heard, I have a feeling that something is not just right with the clause. I searched the web to find the relavant law, but all I could find was Civil Code Section 1941 - "Habitability". And I'm not sure it will work for me.
I need LEGAL advice on the clause in question. Please help me...
Thank you very much for your time.