It is very common for renters to contact us for help with a bat problem. Sometimes they are frustrated or even frightened because their landlord doesn’t seem to be taking the situation seriously. In this article we will discuss:
- Why your landlord might be dragging his or her feet & how you can partner with them to solve the problem.
- What rights you may have & where you can find help.
- How Get Bats Out can help in this situation.
Why does it seem like your landlord doesn’t want to solve the problem?
It is almost always best to try and partner with your landlord in solving a problem instead of creating an adversarial situation. Hiring a lawyer, getting your landlord in trouble with the health department or getting your story on the news makes for a horrible long term relationship with the person you are depending on to provide you with a well maintained home.
There are at least four possible reasons why you are not getting help:
Reason One: Your landlord may not understand the seriousness of the situation. Until you’ve had a bat flying in your bedroom, it is hard to understand how a person feels. While some might view the situation as humorous, many people are upset and scared when this happens. Your living space is a place you are supposed to feel safe, especially at night.
Solution: Instead of getting insistent or demanding, try educating your landlord. There is plenty of information on this website you can share. Maybe even share a link to this article? Your landlord may not understand his potential liability or the property damage he is suffering. Does he or she know what the Center for Disease Control recommends in regard to getting rabies shots if you have a bat in your house? Is he aware they cost more than $3500 per person? Is he going to cover that cost? How about the risk of Histoplasmosis? Is he okay with guano piling up inside the attic, ceiling or walls?
Try this: “Hey Mr. Jones – I know you are busy, but as I mentioned last week, we had a bat in the house. I just found this article that points out this may be a serious situation for you and my family. Does your insurance cover us getting rabies shots if we need them? Check out this article at www.GetBatsOut.com”
Reason Two: To properly exclude bats from a home and then bat proof it can sometimes be much more expensive than a home owner is expecting. Maybe your landlord can’t afford to get the work done at this time?
Solution: Help your landlord find a reputable company that will accept a payment plan (we do). Or download our insurance guide, read it and offer to assist your landlord in getting help from his home owner’s insurance policy. Or perhaps you can offer to assist with the cost in return for reduced rent payments until you are paid back?
Reason Three: Your landlord doesn’t want to spend the money. While it is your home, it is your landlord’s investment property. His goal is to earn a profit and perhaps he sees this expenditure as an unnecessary cost.
Solution: The answer here is again educating your landlord. Help him see the short shortsightedness and risk he or she is taking by neglecting this problem. While it may be painful to spend the money now, it will only get more expensive with time. He or she needs to understand:
- His property is being damaged by the nightly build up of guano and urine in the attic, walls or ceiling.
- His insurance company will likely not help him if he doesn’t take steps to protect his property when he becomes aware of ongoing damage.
- He will likely not be able to sell the home without taking care of the problem. If he doesn’t disclose the problem, he is still on the hook for the costs for 24 months after the sale. We’ve acted as expert witnesses in these cases. It happens all the time.
- Everyday the bats are in the property and he does not act to protect his tenants, he is facing significant liability. While death from rabies in the United States is quite rare, the cases that do happen are most often from bats in the home. However, the risk of rabies creates a much more common expense. Thousands of people each year get post exposure rabies shots at the advice of their doctor and the Center for Disease Control. These shots cost at least $3500 per person (occasionally there is a shortage of the serum. One year one of our clients paid $10,000 for her shots after she woke up with bats in her room!). It would be a poor investment decision to neglect the cost of the work, end up paying for a family to get their shots, and still need to get the work done.
- Much more common than rabies is a disease called Histoplasmosis that can be contracted from exposure to bat guano (not all bat guano contains the fungus that causes the disease, conditions have to be right). In a commercial setting, we are often finally hired after someone has gotten sick and the landlord is paying for health care, paying to move tenants to a new apartment, and can no longer rent out part of their property.
After properly weighing these costs your landlord should see the value in protecting his or her long term interests.
Reason Four: Sometimes it is difficult to get the owner’s attention. Maybe you rent from a large company and your point of contact is a manager who doesn’t have the authority to spend any money on bat removal – and you don’t know how to contact the decision makers. Or maybe your landlord is just too busy to be bothered.
Solution: Get some attention. Sometimes you have to be a little creative to get noticed. Here are a few ways to get some attention:
- Put your message in writing (keep a copy). If you hand the manager something in writing – it is easy for him or her to hand it along to the decision maker. If all you do is complain on the phone, your message likely doesn’t get portrayed correctly.
- Have an attorney write a letter for you. Don’t make it adversarial – the fact you went to the expense of having the attorney write the letter will get attention. The attorney’s letter can kindly inform the landlord of the situation you (and by extension he) is in. Again, if you want to continue to live in this home, it is best to ask your attorney to approach the situation from a “let’s solve the problem together” point of view instead of an adversarial one.
- Be the squeaky wheel. Round up a petition, send a daily email.
- Contact your landlord through social media. Don’t leave a scathing review – but let them know you are not happy, you are not getting attention, you don’t feel safe – and that you know where to leave a review if you have to. Your landlord is likely interested in protecting his or her online reputation.
- Here is a creative idea: Send your landlord an invoice for a deposit against rabies shots. Include it with your partial rent payment. It won’t stick – but it will get past the manager who has no authority. The manager can’t pay the invoice. Nor can he or she accept a partial payment in the owner’s behalf, so he will have no choice but to forward the situation/invoice to the owner.
The idea here is to get important information to the decision maker – without making an enemy or causing your landlord permanent harm (press, bad reviews online, health department, etc). You are looking for a friend/partner/ally – not a fight.
Okay I’ve Tried All That and My Landlord Still Hasn’t Solved the Problem
You do have rights. Every state is different, but all states have laws to protect renters from neglect and abuse. One of the most common legal rights found in each state reads something like this:
“Residential rental units should be habitable and in compliance with housing and health codes—meaning they should be structurally safe, sanitary, weatherproofed, and include adequate water, electricity, and heat.” (we highlighted the applicable words in bold).
To find the laws specific to your state try a Google search for “landlord tenant [your state]” or “attorney general [your state]” or “renter protection laws [your state]”.
You can also call the public health department.
IMPORTANT: While it may be beneficial to let your landlord know you are aware you have rights, and it may be empowering to know you have rights – exercising them to force the hand of your landlord may not be in your long term best interest. What seems like an emergency today may not be a big deal tomorrow. Are you prepared to move over this issue? (note: if you ARE prepared to move over this issue, neglect to care for the situation on the part of your landlord likely gives you legal grounds to break your lease.)
How Can Get Bats Out Help Me?
We have three goals in a landlord/tenant situation.
- Protect our client’s (your landlord) property and reputation.
- Render the situation safe (for you).
- Exclude the bats as humanely as possible (we do not kill bats).
Here is how we can assist in accomplishing all three goals.
To protect our client’s property we exclude the bats, bat proof the home or building and clean up the guano left behind. We are also interested in protecting our client’s reputation. Material harm can come to all parties if the situation is either blown out of proportion or if an adversarial situation develops. Our goal is to educate everyone and help broker a peaceful resolution.
For a variety of reasons, some people have a real fear of bats. We respect your feelings, and one way we can help (besides getting them out of your home) is to provide you with the education you need to feel in control of your situation. Bats in buildings are much more common than people realize. While it is potentially a serious situation, there are logical and reasonable ways to address the problem.
If you are getting bats inside your rented home, please read the article Do You Have a Bat in Your House Right Now?. Reading this article may help you avoid costly rabies shots. If you are trying to help your landlord with his insurance company, the article Will My Insurance Company Help? will be helpful. Finally, if you are trying to educate your landlord about the seriousness of the situation you can refer him or her to this article you are reading right now.
The First Step – Get an Inspection
Before anything can be done, someone needs to inspect your home to put together a plan, scope of work and estimate. Depending on the situation, we likely need your landlord’s permission to get on the roof – even if you are paying for the inspection. In commercial settings (apartment buildings) we usually offer a free inspection, however we still need permission to walk and photograph the property. To schedule an inspection click on the button below.
Your local bat removal expert,