Landlord and tenant relationships are governed by the arrangements to which they both agree. Property owners can request rent due on whatever day of the month they desire. They can also demand a security deposit and set late fees if rent is unpaid by the specified date. Tenants, however, have the right to expect proper and timely maintenance and respect for privacy. Legal issues concerning insects and roaches can be complex.
Tenants cannot sue a property owner outright because an apartment has roaches -- most lawful agreements state that the tenant is responsible for keeping a clean apartment. At the same time, a landlord cannot forcibly enter and/or toss you out of a property because you deduct monies from your rent if you are paying for roach extermination yourself. While rules involving property owners and tenants vary among states, certain laws are enforceable across the board.
Express your concern about roaches in a polite and forceful manner to the landlord. Request that the landlord pay for an exterminator. Keep a written record of every conversation. Date every recording.
Take pictures of the roach problem for visual documentation purposes. Keep all receipts of any extermination products and/or fees paid out by you, the tenant, if the landlord refuses to take care of the problem or does an insufficient job. Explain and agree with your landlord that you will deduct any necessary monies from your rent for extermination products or services paid for by you, the tenant, out of pocket. Document and date this verbal agreement.
Deduct these monies from your rent with a written explanation and photocopies of receipts for your landlord's records. Attempt, once again, to settle these matters with your landlord without involving the courts. Document and date this attempt.
Contact an attorney and proceed with a lawsuit if the landlord threatens you with eviction and/or enters your home and begins removing your property -- himself or through a third party -- without express written advance warning. Present your written documentation and receipts to a lawyer as evidence for your case. In Maryland, for example, a landlord must provide at least a written notice of eviction at least 30 days in advance of the eviction date. You can sue a landlord under these conditions backed by the enforcement of the Tenant's Advocate Rights guidelines and the attorney general's office in most states.
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