Rats: Information for Tenants and Property Owners (2024)

Property owners are required (PDF) to keep their properties rat-free and address conditions that can lead to rats. They may have to hire a pest management professional when appropriate. Tenants can do their part by following our prevention tips below and promptly reporting rats to property owners, building managers or co-op associations.

If property owners are not fulfilling their legal requirement to prevent and manage rats and repair conditions that can attract rats, tenants can report the issue online or by calling 311. The Health Department will send inspectors to investigate the situation.

  • What Happens to Your 311 Complaint (PDF)
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Learn more below about what you can do prevent rat infestation, or how you can drive them out if they have already settled in your home or property.


Secure Garbage

The best way to prevent rats from settling in your home and property is to carefully dispose of your garbage. Be sure to:

  • Provide enough garbage cans with tight fitting lids to hold all garbage between pickups.
  • Bring garbage to the curb as close to pick-up time as possible. Garbage left on the curb for too long attracts rats.
  • Follow your building’s policy for garbage disposal and recycling.
  • If your building has a garbage chute, bag and tie your garbage before putting it down the chute.

Destroy Potential Shelter

Make your home inhospitable to rats by attacking their favorite places to seek shelter and reproduce:

  • Clean up any clutter or litter in and around your building, including your basem*nt and yard.
  • Remove piles of newspapers, paper bags, cardboard and bottles.
  • Store items away from walls and off the ground.
  • Control weeds and shrubs around your home.


If you think rats may have invaded your home or property, follow these steps to find and remove them.

  1. Look for Evidence: Rats come out at night, so find out where rats are going after dark. When the sun comes out, this will help you check for spots where rats live, such as nests and holes in dirt or concrete. Other evidence of rats may include:
    • Moist and dark rat droppings.
    • Holes and gnaw marks on garbage cans.
    • Greasy rubmarks along walls and worn paths in grass.
    • Rats run along the same path repeatedly, so they often leave runways.
    • Burrows in earthen areas or structural holes in sidewalks or building foundations.

  2. Clean Waste: Rats communicate with each other and attract more rats to them through their urine and droppings. Clean up droppings and wash greasy track marks with water and a mild bleach solution (one part bleach, 10 parts water).

  3. Starve Them: Rats only need one ounce of food per day. Dispose of your garbage properly and keep all your food in tightly-sealed containers. Do not leave food outside for stray cats, pigeons or squirrels.

  4. Kill Them: Effective poisons that can kill rats should be applied by an NYS-licensed pest management professional. In commercial and multi-unit properties, owners are legally required to hire a pest management professional. If you live in your own home without tenants, you can place rodent bait yourself, but we recommend you leave the job to the professionals.

Be sure your pest control company is following our best practices and guidelines for preventing and managing rats.

Keep Them Out

Keep rats out by repairing property damage and sealing up cracks and holes in foundations, walls, floors, underneath doors and around windows. Necessary materials are inexpensive and available at hardware stores.

Be sure to collapse any earthen burrows, which may be covered by leaves, cobwebs or other debris with a shovel. Covering a burrow entrance with wood, cinder blocks or rocks will not keep rats out. Do not place broken glass or chemicals into a burrow.

Learn more about the specific maintenance steps you can take to close inactive burrows and seal small and large cracks and holes:

  • Preventing Rats on Your Property (PDF)
    Other Languages: Español | 中文

After a Health Department Inspection

If Health Department inspectors find signs of rat activity on your property, the property owner will receive a commissioner’s order by mail to fix the situation. The letter will include an inspection report detailing the findings, guidance on how to fix the problems and our contact information. Show the findings to your pest management professional.

About 10 days after an inspection, the Health Department will conduct a follow-up inspection. If the conditions have not been corrected, the property owner will receive a summons. You can appeal violations to the NYC Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings.

If a summons is not dismissed, it can lead to fines of between $300 and $2,000. The Health Department may provide rat management services on properties where the owner fails to do so. Property owners may be billed for this work.

Additional Resources

  • Preventing Rats on Your Property (PDF)
    Other Languages: Español | 繁體中文
  • Pest Management Tips for Building Residents (PDF)
  • Integrated Pest Management Toolkit (PDF)

More Information

  • Rats Main Page
  • Rat Prevention: Training (Rat Academy)
Rats: Information for Tenants and Property Owners (2024)


Should I let my landlord know about rats? ›

Both you and your landlord have the responsibility of keeping your rented property pest-free. It is best to communicate with your landlord immediately if you have any bug or rodent problems. Also should agree on the best course of action to prevent this issue from worsening.

What are my rights in California about rats in my apartment? ›

Landlords have a legal obligation to provide habitable living conditions for their tenants. This includes addressing rat infestations promptly. Here are the key responsibilities of landlords: Respond to Complaints: Landlords must respond to tenant complaints about rat infestations in a timely manner.

Are landlords responsible for rats in Texas? ›

People want to know what their rights are when their apartment has mold, pests, broken appliances, or other problems. Texas law states that a landlord must make a diligent effort to repair a problem if it "materially affects the physical health or safety of an ordinary tenant."

What is general info about rats? ›

Rats are generally slender with a pointed head, large eyes, and prominent ears. They have moderately long legs with long, sharp claws. The bald soles of their narrow hind feet possess fleshy pads of variable size, depending on species.

Can rats be in apartment walls? ›

Rats can enter apartments through various entry points like holes and cracks in walls, gaps around doors or windows, utility lines, roofs vents, and sewer lines. You may not notice every hole or crack in your apartment, but a professional wildlife expert will. They will also seal each one with proper materials.

What to do when you find a rat in your apartment? ›

After you calm down, contact the landlord and report the sighting to them (in writing). Although it may be difficult (on many levels), it is important to gather documentation of the infestation such as photos of the rodents or of any other indicators, such as droppings.

Can I break my lease because of rats in California? ›

In California, the law allows tenants to break or terminate their lease if the apartment or rental unit becomes uninhabitable which includes any rodent infestations which can be a health hazard for the tenants.

How long does a landlord have to fix a rodent problem in California? ›

Notify your landlord in writing of the problem. Allow the landlord a reasonable amount of time (usually 30 days) to fix the problem. Collect evidence, such as pictures and video, of the problem that's causing you to repair and deduct.

Are tenants responsible for pest control in California? ›

According to California housing laws, landlords are responsible for pest control in California – again, with a financial caveat – since they bear the responsibility of maintaining habitable conditions on the property. This policy applies to the following rental properties and more: Apartments. Single-family Homes.

Does renters insurance cover rats? ›

A renters insurance policy does not typically cover any type of bug or rodent infestation, including bed bugs.

Who calls pest control in a rental property? ›

While pest control is generally the landlord's responsibility, tenants also need to do their bit to keep the rental unit pest-free. If everyone plays their part, you can avoid costly repairs and legal action, ensure the property remains clean and habitable, and maintain a harmonious landlord-tenant relationship.

Can I break my lease because of rats in Texas? ›

Texas law (Tex. Property Code § 92.056, 92.0561) sets specific requirements for the procedures you must follow before moving out because of a major problem. The problem must be truly serious, such as the landlord won't repair your A/C or remediate a pest infestation. Keep in mind you still can't just up and move out.

How to get rid of a rat? ›

The best way to get rid of rats or mice is by using traps. If using spring loaded traps for rats, bait three of them in a row without setting them. Bait with dried fruit, peanut butter mixed with oats, or cheese.

What does rat hair look like? ›

Rat Identification

Norway rats have brownish fur, hairless tails, and short, furry ears. Slightly smaller, roof rats are black in color with dark tails and hairless ears. Pack rats, or woodrats, average six inches in length with brown or gray fur, hairy tails, and big, furry ears.

How fast do rats grow in size? ›

Regarding weight, male rats can weigh anywhere between 0.66 and 1.1 pounds. Female ones fall into the spectrum from 0.55 to 0.66 pounds. In general, a rat will need six months to grow fully.

Are landlords responsible for pest control in California? ›

According to California housing laws, landlords are responsible for pest control in California – again, with a financial caveat – since they bear the responsibility of maintaining habitable conditions on the property. This policy applies to the following rental properties and more: Apartments. Single-family Homes.

Who can rat proof a house? ›

At Countrywide, we provide a thorough and extensive inspection for rat entry points to combat your pest infestation efficiently. For more information, call us today at 0800 078 7255 or book your rat control visit and implement successful pest control solutions.

How do you tell your landlord you saw a mouse? ›

If you have discovered a mouse or two, contact your landlord or apartment manager to report the mice in your apartment. As a property owner, they should pay for pest removal services. If your landlord has not responded to your phone calls, it is time to write a complaint letter.

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