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Corporate LL claims long term tenant's single lovebird caused a serious rat infestation! Repairs, Maintenance

Discussion in 'Other Residential Landlord & Tenant Issues' started by RatOrNoRat, Sep 30, 2021.

  1. RatOrNoRat

    RatOrNoRat Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Jurisdiction:
    California
    Tenant has been in the unit 7+ years, and moved in with their (SOLE) lovebird.

    The unit began to have rat / mice infestation issues in 2018/2019. Two of the three neighbors in the building have 2 cats each, and are purportedly telling the LL that they have no pest control issues.

    A few days ago, tenant noticed carpets in the unit ripped up to the sub-floor. This happened near the walk-in closet where her lovebird resides at ground level. She immediately advised property manager who sent the maintenance man out to "have a look". Tenant also set out traps that caught 4 rats the same night, 3 in the kitchen, and one in the walk-in closet. She took photos of the carpet damage and emailed them to the LL's property manager onsite.

    The maintenance guy then came out to "take a look". Two hours after he left, she got an email from the manager stating the maintenance man found the unit "full of bird poop and bird seed all over" which is allegedly attracting rats and causing the infestation. They are now requiring the tenant to clean up the unit of the alleged "ubiquitous bird poop and bird seed" so that the "infestation" can be eliminated. Tenant's home is clean (she has an autistic child who has PICA and gets into things, so it's a hazard to leave anything lying around), so she is contesting these allegations which she suspects is because they may want her to pay for the carpets.

    What are her options? Can a single lovebird's existence and feeding in a walk-in closet cause this level of infestation after 7 years of residence in the same unit? She does not use a bird feeder, the bird stays in the walk-in closet and is fed there exclusively. The bird is let out at night in the living room for an hour after the child is asleep. So these allegations that the entire unit is filthy and "full of bird poop and bird seed" are untrue.

    How can she further protect herself and get the LL to get rid of these pests?
    She has photos of the carpet damage done so far, and

    Thanks for any advice you may have for me.

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  2. justblue

    justblue Well-Known Member

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    Why is the bird kept in a closet?
    Is the bird in a cage or is it allowed to be free in the closet?
    Is there scattered seed on the floor in the closet?
    How often is the closet cleaned?
    When the bird flies in living room at night does the tenant clean up the droppings immediately? Every few days?

    Who are you in this situation?
     
  3. RatOrNoRat

    RatOrNoRat Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Closet cleaned daily, in the morning. Cage cleaned at night by tenant's partner when bird is out in the living room and any crumbs / seeds on the closet floor is picked up at the time

    Bird is in the closet as the tenant's kid can be rough with it. It is allowed to be free in the closet.

    In any case there are no scattered seeds or poop "all over the unit" as falsely claimed by the maintenance man.

    When lovebird is out in the living room, it sits on the owner's shoulder. Sometimes, it flies about but usually just sits on her shoulder. When there are droppings (usually on the tenant), its cleaned up right away.

    I'm related to the tenant. My question is if a single lovebird can cause such an infestation esp when bird has been there 7+ years! How does she protect herself from these claims?
     
  4. Zigner

    Zigner Well-Known Member

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    I'm going to say that yes, sure, a single bird, improperly cared for, can give rise to the conditions that would allow a rat infestation to occur. Of course, that's not a legal question...

    How to protect herself from the claims? Clean up the mess, put the bird in a proper cage and work with the LL to repair the damages already caused so that the infestation is controlled. Those damages will need to be paid for by the tenant.
     
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  5. justblue

    justblue Well-Known Member

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    Yes, the birdseed scattered on the floor is a huge draw for rats/mice/roaches. Vermin has come out since COVID hit us and that is likely why your friend is having these problem now when she hadn't before. Tell her to keep the bird in a nice cage and put the seed in a seed cup IN THE CAGE. Place the cage on a table, not on the floor, and clean up any seed that scatters on the table.

    As an aside: If the child is rough with the bird, perhaps she should find another home for him (bird not child). Keeping him in a closet is not a nice way to care for the bird. They should be near a window, not in a dark closet.
     
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  6. PayrollHRGuy

    PayrollHRGuy Well-Known Member

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    But not too near.

    Walls and Windows: If your birdcage is in the center of a room, your birds will feel anxious and scared, as they have nowhere to hide from danger. Birds need at least one side of their cage up against a wall, as it provides them with a feeling of security. The ideal placement is in a corner where they can have two walls. Additionally, you shouldn’t put your bird’s cage directly in front of a window, as outside factors like dogs, hawks, and storms will scare them. The temperature can rapidly change by a window as well. A partial view of a window is fine.

    Putting Your Birdcage in the Right Place | Hartz
     
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  7. justblue

    justblue Well-Known Member

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    Yes, this is true.

    Although my parakeets loved hanging out on the windowsill when on their daily free flight.
     
  8. adjusterjack

    adjusterjack Super Moderator

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    I'd call it abuse.
     
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  9. RatOrNoRat

    RatOrNoRat Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Legally speaking, can the landlord can force her to pay for replacement of the carpet dug up by the rodents?

    My concern is that the rodents are doing this because they're nesting and I am concerned for the safety of the child (and the family) esp during the pandemic. The bird has been listed for adoption on Craig's List and I've brought him home with me until he can be adopted out, so no more closets for him.

    "Pest Control" apparently showed up yesterday and claimed they need the unit "deep cleaned" of existing rat droppings, so that he can "track the hole from which the rats are coming". From her description, he sounds like a maintenance guy from another complex owned by the LL because I've never heard of a pest control guy claiming that he cannot do anything for an infestation until the home is cleared of the existing "rat poop".

    Is a rodent infestation legally the tenant's fault? Again, she's been there 7+ years and it began last year (strangely coinciding with the start of the pandemic).

    Thanks
     
    Last edited: Oct 2, 2021
  10. justblue

    justblue Well-Known Member

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    Legally speaking the LL can evict her and she could be court ordered to pay for any damage she caused by her negligence. Yes, it seems the infestation is your friends fault.
    As I already stated, the pandemic caused vermin to change their behavior. The food sources rats usually would utilize were gone (think restaurant garbage) so the rats had to seek out new food sources. Your friend generously provided the rats with that food because she was bizarrely scattering seed/food on her floor for her uncaged bird. Commonsense should have told her that this was not a particularly bright or sanitary thing to do, but apparently your friend is not blessed with commonsense.

    Tell your friend to clean her home...at the very least she should be cleaning and disinfecting her home so that her child with Pica doesn't consume the rat waste.

    She should also start looking for another apartment because I highly doubt her lease will be renewed.
     
  11. RatOrNoRat

    RatOrNoRat Law Topic Starter New Member

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    No, she wasn't scattering her "uncaged" bird's food and seeds on the floor. She fed the bird in it's cage in the closet. "Pest control" was maintenance in disguise lol. Plus, they'd need PICTURES to show that the unit was full of rat poop, bird seed and bird poop - which they don't have because it didn't happen. Or they'd have sent her photos already.

    If anything, her behavior was negligent towards the bird and I've addressed that by removing the bird from her home and moving it into mine temporarily. I agree it shouldn't be in a closet.

    Anyway, thanks for the heads-up on evictions and lack of lease renewal. That is currently not the law in California, esp if the tenant has been there for over 12 months.

    She needs a real attorney, apparently.
     
    Last edited: Oct 2, 2021
  12. Zigner

    Zigner Well-Known Member

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    I agree - an attorney trumps a busybody family member every day.
     

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