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Original post made by Karen, Birdland, on Jan 13, 2010


I remember reading awhile back some posts regarding problems with rats that other Pleasanton residents have had.

I am wondering if anyone can provide some guidance/suggestions on the following situation.

We have been renting a home here for a little over a year. Beginning December 18th we noticed that we had a problem with rats in the attic and garage (my husband saw one in the garage and we started hearing them in the attic.) Also, about that same time we noticed our neighbors having pest control trucks in front of their homes so we are assuming this problem is throughout the neighborhood.

Anyway, after contacting our landlords, they refused to hire professionals to deal with the rats. Instead, they put "bait" in the garage and did not seal up any entry spots into the house like I'm assuming a professional company would have done. Now, our house STINKS!!! You can smell the decomposing rats and the stench is unimaginable. Finally, on Monday our landlords paid someone to come and take the bodies that they were able to find out of the attic, but the smell won't go away and the entry points and bait are still there!! According to the technician that came out, we will continue to have this problem as long as the holes are still there.

So...the advice I need is what are my legal rights as a renter? Last night the smell was so bad when I returned from work that I packed up some stuff and moved our family out. I sent our landlord an email and said I would deduct the costs from our rent, but haven't yet heard back. Can anyone help shed some light on this situation for me? Similar problems? How to get help? Who to contact? Etc... I want to make sure our landlords don't retaliate by not giving us our deposit back if we need to break our lease in move out.

Comments (22)

Posted by Karen
a resident of Birdland
on Jan 13, 2010 at 12:22 pm

Just to clarify....when I said I moved us out, we took our things (clothing, etc.) to a local hotel.

Posted by PToWN94566
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 13, 2010 at 12:41 pm

PToWN94566 is a registered user.

Karen I think in a situation like yours were it's taken so long for the landlords to do anything, that you're in the 'right.' If a tenant's residence becomes unlivable it is the responsibility of the landlord to fix the problem- such as a leaky roof, infestations etc. I would do a search of some Alameda County housing agency (I'm drawing a blank right now, but there are some agencies you can call to get further advice.

And yes, there is a rat and mice problem in some neighborhoods in town. I've lived near Harvest Park for about 25 years and just within the past year have seen rats and mice running on the ground and fence. We had a large rat that use to come around and we caught it in a trap; this was during Fall. Now, two nights ago I saw a mouse running along the fence. As soon as it saw/hear me, it ran the other way. I suggest cats.

Posted by Rat Zapper
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 13, 2010 at 12:45 pm

Ugh--a few years back I had a rat problem--my house is near a creek. I heard the scratching noises and thought,"Oh, I guess some birds got in under the eaves and built a nest and now they're up in the attic!" Unfortunately, I found out I was wrong when I saw a rat scamper into a tiny hole in the baseboard of my laundry room. I hired a pricey exterminator who laid traps. (Poison bait is a dangerous thing to put around one's house, esp. if you have children and pets. Also, then they die in the walls and decompose.)
However, the exterminator came back daily to check the traps and remove the carcasses so I didn't have to deal with the decomposing. However, the next year, more rats. I found a product called RatZapper, which solved the problem. It runs on batteries and humanely shocks the rat--you don't have to touch or even see the dead rat--just drop them out into a trash--no gross blood and guts. It works great--I really recommend it. Haven't had to use it now in two years. I wonder if anyone else in Pleasanton will admit to having had this problem?! Your landlord needs to have those holes sealed. i don't know how to help you--maybe there is a renters' rights organization?

Posted by Ughhh
a resident of Downtown
on Jan 13, 2010 at 3:01 pm

I had trouble with rats in my attic several years ago. Tried trapping them but had minimal success and eventually had to poison them which leads to decomposing bodies. Yes, the access points need to be closed up. Rat feces can also spread disease as they breakdown and get stirred up as dust. Your landlord does need to resolve this immediately. I'm not a lawyer but from what I've heard in the past, you are in your right to pay to have this fixed and deduct the money from your rent....and then you'll probably have to fight with the landlord to get your deposit back when you move.

I'd suggest calling Len Tillem on KGO radio for some free legal advice. He's on from noon to one on weekdays and I think also on Sunday afternoons. He often addresses landlord/tenent issues. Good luck!

Posted by Linz
a resident of Deer Oaks/Twelve Oaks
on Jan 13, 2010 at 3:31 pm

YES you have rights! Check out the California department of consumer affairs website, there's tons of useful info on there. You have the right to have a home free of pests and are able to withold rent until your landlord fixes the problem (check the website first, they have other ideas also on how to get your landlord to comply), keep good notes and take pics if possible.

Posted by Another Gatetree Resident
a resident of Pleasanton Valley
on Jan 13, 2010 at 4:35 pm

Various areas in Pleasanton have the problem you describe. Pleasanton Valley is one and we had great success with not only RatZappers, but also using Keystone Pest Control and their pet/kid safe bait boxes.

I'd urge you, as a renter, to review the information at this site:

Web Link

Place special emphasis on the following sections:

Dealing With Problems -- Note Hantavirus is carried by rats and is a serious Health and Safety concern.

Having Repairs Made -- Note here -- It's best for the tenant to notify the landlord of damage or defects by both a telephone call and a letter.

Posted by Alex
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 13, 2010 at 4:59 pm

We had problems a few years back and you need to be "vigilant".
You can seal areas around pipes and cracks with Steel wool. It hurts their nose when they try to squeeze thru. Jsut pack it around any entry points. It's inexpensive.
Alameda Vector Control was helpful and found a nest in my neighbors yard and made them clean it up and get rid of the vegetation they were residing in. They may also help work with any neighbors that are leaving cat or dog food out over night. They might have some leverage with your landlord. Call Len Tillam on KGO.

Posted by Long Timer
a resident of Mohr Park
on Jan 14, 2010 at 8:16 am

Your landlord is waayyyyy on the hook for the rat issue. As a matter of fact, they have to house you elsewhere until they resolve the problem and clean your house up.

We have lived in three different areas of Pleasanton over the years, and every last one of them had rat issues. The little buggers are here, and it appears the only way to keep them out is to be dillegent. Keep vegitation away from your house, keep the underside of the house in good repair. Limit pet food outdoors. Only once have I used bait, with stinky results. My home of the last 15 years off of Mohr and Kamp, has been virtually rat free since I picked up some feral cats. Best solution yet. The cats stay outside, or occasionally in the garage. I feed them once a day, and the rest of their meals come from what they catch.

Be thankfull you do not have cockroaches. Our first house in Ptown, well over 20 years ago was infested when we moved in. Val Vista, about 4 blocks from the sewer facility. There was no choice but to call an exterminator. Took three months to get rid of them, and quarterly treatments to keep them away.

The biggest issue we have now is Racoons. Massive, aggressive SOBs.

Posted by cat owner
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Jan 14, 2010 at 8:30 am

we had tree rats about 5 years ago in our attic- patched up the hole and trapped the remaining in the attic. At night they were having parties in the wall just behind our heads - we trapped about 4 or five of them pretty easy with big rat traps and peanut butter. (worked great) My cats were killing about 1 a week- have not had a problems since.
good luck!

Posted by Marie
a resident of Birdland
on Jan 14, 2010 at 8:33 am

I know just what you are talking about, but if you think the smell is bad now just wait until it warms up. To make the smell go away you must remove all the insulation and spray the sheet rock and put in new insulation. The landlord must do something about this as you can get the hunta virus from being around the waste from the rats.

Posted by Sue
a resident of Valley Trails
on Jan 14, 2010 at 8:51 am

You have tenant rights. Call your landlord, keep good notes, write an email and a follow-up letter letting them know what you are going to do by a certain date if the problem isn't resolved. If you plan on moving elsewhere, take them to small claims court and make sure you charge them for all the fees plus any moving expenses due to the fact it is their problem you had to move because they were too cheap to take care of their responsibility. They are probably slum lords and already making a killing off of you by what you're paying to rent their house that they probably have owned for years and paid for already.

Posted by Karen
a resident of Birdland
on Jan 14, 2010 at 10:12 am

Thank you all for your supportive comments and advice. I called Alameda County Vector Control this morning and they are coming out tomorrow. They said that since we are renter's, they can turn the heat up on our landlords and force them to make repairs and clean up the rat problem.
I also love the Len Tillem idea. I listen to him sometimes at work and had actually considered calling this week.
Thanks again!

Posted by neighbor
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 14, 2010 at 10:48 am

You can file a report with the housing authority and they will contact your landlord.

Posted by Lee
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 14, 2010 at 11:05 am

We live right next to an Arroyo, and I wondered about rats or mice. We got 2 cats, and that took care of it. We also made sure that the vents on the roof and at the base of the house were OK, no holes or spaces for them to get into.

We have a problem with ants about once a year. I have also had raccoons come right up to the patio window!! They are too big for the cats to mess with. Animal control lent me some traps, and then they came and took them.

Good luck with your landlords. I hope they take care of the problem quickly and no one gets sick!

Posted by reasonable
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 14, 2010 at 11:47 am

We also have rats and mice. We tried to trap the rat but it was too big or smart. We saw it running in the kitchen a few days later looking healthy as ever. Ugh.

Wondering -- does animal control provide "live" traps for rats? I tried to find one and they do not sell this size in stores. And it may be time for a cat.

Posted by mooseturd
a resident of Pleasanton Valley
on Jan 14, 2010 at 12:14 pm

mooseturd is a registered user.

Snap traps are effective and the best solution for rats in the house. But set out and bait a dozen. But, if you don't want rats in the house, then take the battle to the yard. Fight them there. Right now the population is in bloom because of all the citrus fruit hanging for free picking.

Also, the cat solution doesn't always work. My neighbor's cat quivers with fear at the sight of a rat. The city ivy jungles along major streets is a rat nursery. Palm trees are rat condos.

They aren't just a health hazard. They have damaged my wiring and my drip system. They burned down a house in Danville last spring.

Posted by mooseturd
a resident of Pleasanton Valley
on Jan 14, 2010 at 12:16 pm

mooseturd is a registered user.

Useful link if you decide to do it yourself.
Web Link

Posted by A friend w/advice:
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 14, 2010 at 2:02 pm

I doubt you just wanted other "war stories", but it would appear that you were seeking some free legal advice. The best place to get that is with a knowledgeable attorney. Start, however, by reviewing your lease -- you do have one, don't you? -- and making sure that you have lived up to YOUR responsibilities, and then I feel confident the other party will do likewise.
You're not going to get proper advice on a blog. Please recognize that. Free, but not necessarily "proper".
Good luck!

Posted by Judi
a resident of Birdland
on Jan 14, 2010 at 3:00 pm

Judi is a registered user.

Several years ago we had a problem with rats. They were eating the insulation in our new car. Set out traps using Starburst candies. It worked great - they seemed to really like it. Caught over a dozen. We used wire mess to seal up several holes around the house foundation and in the garage (where pipes go into the house). Seems to be working. The cat has seemed to keep any intruders from entering the house. Good luck with your landlord.

Posted by Dolores
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 15, 2010 at 7:06 pm

Regarding your rat problem: A few years ago a workman was in my basement and saw what he thought was a dead rat so I called the Health Care Services Agency of Alameda County (which is Vector Control). He came out to look at a dead rat so I'm sure that he would come out and help you with live rats. Besides that he is a very nice and helpful man and very down to earth. His name is Jeffrey Hardman and his number is 510-567-6825. Leave a message for him and he will call you back as soon as he gets your message. Please tell him that the BEE LADY sent you. He even told me how to get of gophers in my yard. Good Luck to you. I know he can help.

Posted by Anne
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 15, 2010 at 9:11 pm

Your landlord is responsible to get rid of the problem. You should get a copy of the "Tenants Rights Handbook" by Nolo Press. It will tell you step by step how to legally withhold your rent until the problem is resolved. You can also sue in Small Claims Court for all previous months rent payments while the landlord refused to resolve the issues. Good luck.

Posted by Karen
a resident of Birdland
on Jan 16, 2010 at 8:31 am

Thanks again to everyone's suggestions. Jeff Hardman from Alameda County Vector Control came out here yesterday to investigate/document the issue.

Landlords FINALLY called a company to "rodent proof" our home on Monday.

Smell is almost out of the house. Jeff suggested Pine-Sol soaked shop towels thrown up in the attic and it has worked great!

I suggest to anyone else having any problem critters, to give Jeff Hardman a call. Awesome guy, extremely helpful and knowledgeable!!

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