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Q: There is a tenant in a property we manage that has lived there for years. Recently, the tenant made us aware that the property now has an infestation of ants. What is our obligation to remedy the situation? Do we have to incur any related expenses?
A: Virginia Code Section 55.1-1220 imposes duties on landlords to maintain a fit premises. These duties include, among other things, a duty to, “[m]ake all repairs and do whatever is necessary to put and keep the premises in a fit and habitable condition.” So, the landlord must remedy the infestation regardless of whether the tenant is at fault for causing the infestation. The lease will then govern who bears the cost under the circumstances. The Virginia REALTORS® standard lease, for example, assigns the cost of routine preventative application of pesticide to the landlord, while the costs of any additional pest treatment needed to address infestation will be passed on to the tenant.
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