Dear PoP – My Rental Has Termites!

Photo by PoPville flickr user jimbographer

“Dear PoP,

Last week, I discovered termites on my floor and my landlord sent in an exterminator to treat my studio apartment and the one directly below mine. Last night, I discovered live and dead termites in my apartment once again and contacted my landlord. Supposedly an exterminator is on his way, but I have serious concerns that my landlord will only implement cosmetic fixes rather than treating the entire building. I’ve already scheduled an inspection with Terminix and gave them the number of my landlord. What else (if anything) should I do? This is causing me a lot of stress in an apartment I otherwise love!”

I don’t think you need to stress too much. I say this because you are renting and don’t own the unit. If you owned the unit – I’d say it is completely understandable to stress out. However as a renter, while termites most def. suck they do not pose the same issues as bed bugs. Termites are a complete pain in the ass and do a lot of damage to wood structures, so they should absolutely be exterminated. Of course you don’t want them in your apartment at all and just because they won’t bite you doesn’t mean they aren’t unpleasant to see. I believe they only swarm in the spring and then hopefully you won’t see them anymore. Now don’t get me wrong – the landlord really needs to get rid of these – but as a tenant – I don’t think it should cause too much stress if the landlord treats and cleans your apartment. It is in the landlords best interest to get rid of them but I don’t think you need to worry too much.

Of course I’m just guessing and could be completely wrong…

What do you guys think? Have any renters encountered termites? How did the landlord deal with the situation?

14 Comment

  • It’s not your apartment, you-rent-it. The landlord, does however, appreciate you protecting his investment.

  • it can be a serious problem for a renter. As this one points out he has a unit below him. If the termites do enough damage to the sub-floor or joist that single floor apartment might just become a loft apartment with 18 foot ceilings. Termites are no joke.

    • That possibility (ridiculous as it is) would be totally worth it for the story you would have to tell the rest of your boring life.

  • I had a horrible termite infestation in an apartment in Alexandria about 10 yrs ago. Landlord didn’t take me seriously at first, and a week later, sent out someone to confirm they were termites. Then, the termite killers came in a week after that, and I had to move all of my furniture so they could pull up the rugs and spray into the floorboards. In the meantime, I would come home to entire walls covered in live termites.

    After the termite-killing treatment, the walls and windowsills all got completely squishy because the termites had eaten them, and there were literally thousands of dead termite bodies and wings laying around my apartment. I couldn’t clean up as fast as they were dying. It was absolutely disgusting and an awful experience.

    She has a reason to be stressed out. If your lease is up soon, leave. There really isn’t an easy way to repair termite damage, and you’ll be living in a disgusting home for a long while.

    After they fixed my termite infestation, they had the nerve to raise my rent, as my walls were crumbling around me. I ran out of there asap.

  • Reminds me when I was in Peace Corps and had termites that were eating the only wooden thing in my Soviet apartment – the windows. I told my landlord and she was convinced they were an American virus. I laughed and then bought the nastiest Belarusian-made chemicals I could find.

  • unless they are a crazy slum lord and are just waiting to the building to fall down, your landlord is taking it seriously.

    • Well, I lived in a Mark Center building in Alexandria when I had termites, which is supposedly a fairly respectable company. Definitely not a slum lord at least.

  • What about the tenant’s wooden furniture? Do they have to worry about treating furniture before they move? This totally freaks me out, as I have mostly Ikea furniture with a few REALLY sweet antiques that belonged to my grandparents. I would be heartbroken if the few quality pieces I own turned into termite food.

  • me

    I’m confused… OP saw dead termites after the initial treatment by the pest control people. Shouldn’t that mean that the treatment is working??

  • We are dealing with them in my building too. They appeared last year and we had a full injection treatment done to the entire structure. Sure enough, they are back again this year. With a vengance. Make sure that whomever you hire guarantees their work for 2+ years at a minimum.

  • Jen, I saw both live and dead termites after the first treatment. My apartment was treated again yesterday and so far, so good. That goes for my furniture, too. They’re checking my place again over the weekend. My concern came from the fact that my neighbors have experienced a lot of crap in their apartments although I have been relatively unscathed.

  • Termites do bite, actually. Not the same way bedbugs do, but if you are in their way/threatening them, they’ll bite you.

    I would be surprised if the exterminator doesn’t have some sort guarantee on his work. The guy I hired in Louisiana had a policy of treating, then coming back in a couple weeks to make sure the treatment was really effective, which I think (hope?) is pretty standard.

  • We live in a house we have been renting for 5 years. The landlord did not disclose to us that there had previously been termites but we were aware of the exterior termite monitors on the property. 2 years ago they became active inside the house and the termite company came out to treat. The landlord didn’t treat the problem properly because he didn’t want to rip up hardwood floors so the termite company did everything they could to spray under the floors (from the basement ceiling) and into the foundation (inside and out). Now, 2 years later they are back and we will have to go through this all over again but this time they refuse to treat if he doesn’t pull up the flooring and allow them to do the job the right way. What a total pain in my A$$ this is. Do I have to pay my full rent when half my stuff will have to be moved and my home utterly disrupted? Unfortunately I don’t think there are any tenant rights that cover this situation!

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