We've been having a problem with our rental house in Pasadena. We keep getting rats in the house, and our landlord does the least amount possible to solve the problem (brings over traps, pretends to look around to find where they are getting in, but does nothing). We'll catch a few, then a couple of weeks go by with no rodent visitors, but they always come back. We pay a lot to live here and keep the place spotless - and we are tired of dealing with the same problem over and over again. What are our rights as tenants in a situation like this? Can we withhold the rent and use it to hire a professional to fix the problem? I would appreciate any advice or resources you may have on hand!
Oh Erin, how terrible. We totally feel your pain and along with our readers we'll hopefully get you on track and vermin free. We found, back in the day when we were getting evicted, that facts soothe fury and frustration. So let's start there:
Pasadena Housing Department Website 626.744.6128
We gave them a quick call and they told us to call 626.813.3360 to request that the health department come out in order to check out the problem and site the owner of the building. We followed up and that number reaches a real life person (this time is was a Mr. Logan) who said to just call them up and give them the details of your address, etc.
Withholding rent is an option but will definitely escalate conflict. Before you take that step, check out this site on Tenant Rights In California which breaks down the best way to go about deciding how to resolve an issue like the one you're having. This includes a sample letter to your landlord that you intend to withhold rent and the proper facts to have in place before you take that step.
Above all, document, document, document> when you saw rats, where you saw them, how many of them and what phone calls, emails or letters you've sent to you landlord about the problem and exactly what and when they did anything. Facts in these cases are your best friends.
Readers, anyone out there have a similar problem?
[Image from CK]