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Mice in house by Question from a landlord - pls help! (PA) on August 2, 2007 @11:42

Thanks to anyone who can help me here..
We have tenants who gave us a required 60 day notice on 7/20/07 (which would make their lease valid until 9/20). They just sent us a letter stating that there are mice in the home and their droppings all over the basement. They did let us know in 4/07 that they found a dead mouse in the basement & disposed of it. We are responsible for rodent/pest removal per our lease agreement. Since the 1st sighting of mice in 4/07 there has not been any indication of them until now.
These are clean tenants & the basement is a finished playroom for their children.
So - in their letter they are saying that they are vacating the property immediately due to the unhabitial living conditions. They are not staying until the end of their 60 days. They say the PA dept of health confirmed a case of some disease mice carry just last week & they dont want the mice traps or poision around their 2 year old. I do have 1 months rent as a security deposit. As far as I see it they have taken very good care of the property & I will not need to take any monies out of the security.
My question is - what rights do I have? They are not paying rent for AUg & Sept - I do have the 1 month security - how do I get the other?
Any other tips?
Thanks so much!
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Re: Mice in house by Margaret (CO) on August 2, 2007 @11:59 [ Reply ]
From personal observations, mice usually move in (and so do roaches) when they find enough to eat. Were the tenants really as clean as you think they were? You say: basement was a playroom for children. Did the children eat there, and throw away food leftovers behind furniture/under toys/carpet etc.? Have you seen any signs of roach presence? Just curious...

Maybe you should inspect the place with magnifying glass and find the reason for mice move-in?

Re: Mice in house by Anonymous on August 2, 2007 @12:04 [ Reply ]
I like to be fair, but I don't like to be taken advantage of.

First, DO NOT use your security deposit as rent. This must be handled appropriately, and the rules of your lease must be enforced. You were given this notice, so you must have some time to rectify the problem. If not, anyone could report mice, and use that as an excuse to break their lease.

Immediately, schedule a pest control company to get the problem under control. Make sure you keep all records and written correspondence, showing that you are trying to resolve the problem.

Unless the house is just "infested" with mice, I would not let them do this. You could talk to them and offer to let them out with only a 30day notice(do not let them use SD as the last month's rent). I would consider this if they had been there over 2yrs and were always on-time, and if I knew I could get another tenant quickly.

Otherwise, when they are late, serve a pay or quit and begin eviction so you can get a judgement against them.

They want to move and have YOU pay for their early termination. Two months of missing rent payment is a lot for you to have to concede for 1 or 2 mice. They are either not being reasonable about the situation, or they are using it as an excuse to get out of the contract early.

Re: Mice in house by mice problem (pa) on August 2, 2007 @12:18 [ Reply ]
They are really clean - alot cleaner then previous tenants (and they never had mice)... and there are no roaches.
The tenants say since they told me of the problem in April & we did nothing about it they have the right to brake the lease. (we thought it was an isolated incident since they didnt complain of any more).
They also say they have pictures and are prepared to take this to court if need be.
What would you do in this situation?
Thanks for your help!
Re: Mice in house by Mass LL on August 2, 2007 @12:45 [ Reply ]
Prompt eradication of mice is required by most states. In Massachusetts, the LL is required to take appropriate action within 5 days of the report. What did you do when they told you about the mice in April? And is there a record of that (correspondence with the tenant, receipts, etc.)? Check your states laws, you may be behind the eight ball already. It sounds like the tenants have figured all this out already.

Take verifiable action against the mice now. If you get an exterminator in NOW, they wonít legally be able to withhold rent. But itíll take a week or two at least for a court date to evict. What do they mean by immediately moving out? You have no way of knowing when they are actually moving out until the van shows up. They may be trying to stall you from filing. I take it you only have a security deposit and not last months rent? Do not agree that they can use security for rent to make sure they still take care of the place and leave it clean. But also check your laws, you may be able to keep it for rent after they move out.

Also start advertising the unit. You have a responsibility to alleviate your loss Ė aggressively. I had a judge who didnít think advertising on Craigslist was enough (I havenít found newspapers to be worthwhile).

PS: itís not just about cleanliness when it comes to mice. Itís also about accessibility. My neighbor, who is very clean, has mice since as there are small holes in her foundation where they can get in. Get rid of all their possible entrance points.

Re: Mice in house by Landlord w/ mice (?) (PA) on August 2, 2007 @13:21 [ Reply ]
I have scheduled a rodent inspection - they will be out tommorow.. I'll let you know how it goes.
The tenants say they are moving out this weekend. They also say this is in our best interest because we will need time to get rid of the mice before re-renting.
I really feel like we got screwed here.
We didnt do anything the 1st time because it was only 1 mouse & never had the problem before.
Thanks - you guys are great!
Re: Mice in house by RestlessKnight (NJ) on August 2, 2007 @14:45 [ Reply ]
I tend to disagree with most of the comments about mice relating to cleanliness. Clean people can get mice when the building has easy entry for them and slobs could have no problem if the place is sealed better. I'm sure the mice breed and enjoy living with certain people better though.
Re: Mice in house by Anonymous on August 2, 2007 @16:19 [ Reply ]
You say you "got screwed", but thats only IF you let them. The only thing you'll have to explain is why you didn't do anything last time they reported it. Its really going to depend on how their last letter was worded, how you explain this, and the judge's opinion.

In the first letter, did the wording sound like it was an isolated incident? Or did it sound more like an ongoing problem that needed to be taken care of?

Good Luck.

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