How to Get Rid of Rats in Apartment

rat infestation

It usually begins with quiet chewing and scratching sounds from the walls or ceiling. But soon, the noises won’t stop, and it’s clear – rats are in your apartment. At first, you ignore it. But you can’t ignore the sounds. It seems like there are rats in your apartment. This isn’t surprising because, since the pandemic, rats have been finding ways to live in residential areas more than before. It’s unsettling to see a rat outside, but it becomes worse when it’s inside your apartment. 

No Tolerance for Rat-Infested Properties 

With the implied warranty of habitability for all residential rental and lease agreements, the landlord is bound to provide premises that are fit and habitable for tenants. Under this warranty, a rodent infestation is considered important enough to constitute a breach if there is a “continued presence of rats, mice, and cockroaches on the premises.”  

When a residential property is infested, the tenant is well within his rights to withhold rent for the duration of the infestation, until the landlord returns the property to a habitable condition. The only condition, in which the tenants would not be allowed to withhold the rent, would be if it could be proven that the tenants caused the problems themselves. In fact, the tenants are responsible for keeping the unit clean, so they do not contribute to the cause of the infestation. This is why renting to responsible tenants is very important in order to not contribute to further infestations.  

Other than the legal aspects, the other dangers of a rat infestation include: 

  • Health Hazards regarding diseases like Hantavirus, Lassa Fever, and Hemorrhagic Fever carried by rats. In addition, there is always the fear of rats getting into food and leaving rat droppings. 
  • Damage to the property including walls, electrical lines, plumbing, and more. 

Warning Signs of a Rat Infestation 

Prevention, as they say, is always better than cure. It would be prudent to look out for any early warning signs that can alert you to a possible infestation. While property owners need to undertake routine maintenance to ensure that an infestation does not occur or can be caught early, it will help tenants to also watch out for the following signs: 

  • Rat droppings 
  • Any signs of gnawing on the wires or wood 
  • Squeaky sounds 
  • Restless pets 
  • Of course, any rat sightings 

How to Deal with a Rat Infestation 

While you’re waiting for a pro to come to your place, what can you do to stop more rats from moving in? Here are some tips: 

1. Look for Potential Entrance Points 

Inspect the base of your residence, including entrances such as doors or other openings through which rodents could have infiltrated. While the pest control expert visiting your apartment will also be on the lookout for these, pre-identifying some can aid in the process. 

2. Keep Food in Sealed Containers 

Mice and other rodents are drawn not just to the warmth of your home but also to available food sources. Storing food, particularly snacks like chips and crackers, in airtight containers decreases the likelihood of rodents entering your home in search of sustenance. 

3. Take Out the Trash Regularly 

Similar to securing food storage, consistently emptying the trash containing food will aid in minimizing the risk of rodent infestation. 

4. Keep Clutter to a Minimum 

Lots of mess can bring in rats searching for a cozy spot to settle down. If you keep your apartment neat and tidy, there won’t be as many hiding spots for rodents to snuggle up in. 

What Are My Rights for Rats in My Apartment? 

As a tenant, you have the right to a safe and comfortable living environment in exchange for paying rent each month. If your landlord fails to make reasonable efforts to remove rats from your apartment or property, they are violating your rights. Legal action can be taken to address this issue. 

A court may order the landlord or property management company to take immediate action to control the rat infestation. They may also be required to compensate affected tenants for any damage caused by the infestation. In some cases, tenants may even be allowed to end their lease early without facing any penalties. 

Landlord’s Guide to Rat Removal in Apartment Units: 

  1. Immediate Response: Upon discovering a rat infestation, landlords should act swiftly to address the issue and prevent escalation. 
  2. Professional Support: Engage a pest control professional to assess and manage the infestation effectively. Sealing entry points is crucial for long-term control. 
  3. Preventative Measures: Implement proactive measures to deter future infestations, such as regular inspections and maintenance of the property. 
  4. Tenant Communication: Keep tenants informed about the steps being taken to address the infestation and reassure them of their safety and well-being. 

However, if the infestation is caused by the unhygienic ways of the tenants, you have the option of not renewing their lease agreement, and the possibility of evicting a tenant, depending on your lease terms. Also, each state has a set of guidelines when it comes to landlord and tenant rights, so be sure to check them out.  You can read about the rights and responsibilities of tenants and landlords in California here.


To avoid future infestations, it’s important to make your apartment less desirable to rodents seeking shelter. This begins by maintaining cleanliness and staying attentive for signs of an infestation, such as droppings, gnaw marks, or indications of nesting. 

For more information about getting landlords to properly address rat infestations in your apartment complex, feel free to contact BFPM. 

Trevor Henson

Trevor Henson is an experienced entrepreneur (10+ highly-successful start-ups) and property investor with a demonstrated history of building and leading teams in investment property management environments, maximizing returns for property owners, and optimizing properties through construction management and re-positioning. He…
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Frequently Asked Questions(FAQs)

First of all, remove all the attractants. Secure garbage and compost, and don’t keep human and pet food outdoors. Use rat control materials such as thick wire mesh to seal holes, metal mesh to seal holes around pipes, and foam sealant that you spray on the metal mesh to fill other crevices and cracks. Seal any holes or crevices that may be present under walls, foundations, sheds, crawl spaces, and porches.

If repairs are required to prevent pest infestation, or if pest infestation makes the home unsafe, the landlord is responsible for addressing pest issues. If your landlord refuses to do so, you can legally end your tenancy early.

Although it is possible to sue your landlord for a rodent infestation, it depends on state law and your rental agreement. If the rental agreement contains a clause which states that the resident is responsible for pest control, then you are responsible for paying the extermination fee to remove rats from your home. Additionally, your state may have laws regarding tenant rights and responsibilities when dealing with rodent infestations. You need to read up on them as well before deciding to sue your landlord.

The landlord has up to a maximum of 30 days to fix a rodent problem, provided their residents have reported the infestation in writing.

Tenants can withhold rent if the property becomes uninhabitable due to serious issues like rodent infestations, after giving the landlord proper notice and reasonable time to address the problem.

Yes, in California, tenants have the right to sue landlords for rat infestations if they fail to address the issue adequately despite being notified. It's crucial to document the problem and communicate with the landlord before considering legal action.

Rats can make a place unpleasant and potentially unsanitary due to their presence and the diseases they carry. However, with proper pest control measures, it's possible to address rat infestations and restore habitability to space.