Question about California tenant law

I work as an aide to a disabled elderly woman. Her apartment is badly, badly infested with cockroaches. They are so bad that when you turn on the oven, hundreds of bugs come running out!

Recently, I discovered that California law requires a landlord to keep rental units bug-free, and what you need to do is officially notify the landlord. So I wrote up a letter for my client (the disabled lady). The other tenant in the downstairs unit wrote a letter too.

So the landlady showed up today (with no 24-hour notice, but whatever) and she’s got a professional exterminator guy who is bringing – can you believe it? – bait paste and roach motels!

I mean, I’m sorry, but that isn’t gonna do squat!! What’s the point of calling a professional, and then being too cheap to select an effective option? As it’s my job to try and keep the place clean and decent, believe me, I have tried baits like that before. Two weeks ago, I cleaned out a horrific roach nest under the refrigerator. ONE week later there was a new roach nest under there, and this one had a f**kton of maggots! (Do roaches farm them or something?)

Anyway, my question: Obviously this slimy move on the landlady’s part is only going to delay any useful action. How long should we wait for the “professional treatment” to fail (and it will!) before we can credibly complain again?

This will vary somewehat depending on what county you’re in. The Department of Consumer Affairs has a page devoted to landlord/tenant issues.

Some of those bait paste products are damn good stuff. It may take a little longer but roach motels do skim off a few as well and the roaches cannot develop immunity to them.

I had a (relatively minor) roach infestation some years ago. Exterminator put a few blobs of that bait paste stuff around. It seemed to do the job. As far as I know, he didn’t do anything else as well, like spraying or nuking them from orbit.

I wouldn’t know how they’ll work for Genghis Khan’s Hordes like OP describes.

ETA: I’m pretty sure, under CA tenant law, if the landlord can’t or won’t deal with it, the tenant has the right to withhold paying rent, or to get it taken care of and then deduct the cost of that from the rent. If you choose the latter, be sure to document document document!

If rent is withheld, it needs to go into an escrow account for that purpose. Don’t just not pay it.

Again, the County of residence is a HUGE matter.

I’ve never heard of this happening in CA, but where rent controls are so strict a landlord can’t even make a profit (Berkeley had much lower prices for 5 unit than 4 unit (which, if one unit is occupied by owner or close relative (asshole kids have their use)), such tactics just may show up.

Workers remove the toilet - “it needs repair”.

Have a unit handy and be able to pull it if the slumlord shows. If you can lift it intact, it’s weight is all the mechanical assembly required, and modern flex connectors can be installed bare-handed.
Mouse wins this game.

Do you really think the elderly tenant can do a proper clean up and wash down after a bug bomb? I can’t imagine the land lord being responsible for post extermination stuff.

Another good point - a serious pesticide application requires the occupant to remove all surfaces which come in contact with food, cover x (don’t remember), and vacate the place for a day or two.
If this is elderly, they may have accumulated a bunch of dinner wate, flatware, cooking utensils, etc. And have nowhere to stay that doesn’t cost money or impose where they don’t feel right imposing.

And, being an apartment, adjacent units would (or should) be affected.
I would not be surprised if the landlord’s intent is to simply drive the roaches into some other apt - everyone get a clean place for 11 months of the year - the 12th is wnen they come in and chase the vermin back into the original site.

Legal advice is best suited to IMHO.

General Questions Moderator

Is this roach bait paste something a non-pro can buy and apply? We have an infestation of roaches in our garage, invading the house, since moving several boxes of stuff from my late in-laws house. We have a pest control company spraying outside once a month but it’s not really helping. And we have Clark the Mighty Feline Hunter who takes down one or two of the bastard a day, but we’d need two dozen of him to keep the hordes at bay.

Any reason you are not having the pest control company spray inside as well?

This thread has mostly been about tenant law. But maybe a better angle would be to skip the legal aspects, and concentrate on the social/heath aspects.
Is there a social worker you can complain to? Or a public health dept?

Imagine if, instead of an elderly person, it was a young child living in unsanitary conditions.
The Child Protective Services department (or whatever it is called) would go to work–threatening to remove the child from its family, or declare the residence unfit for habitation. You could probably solve your problem by making just one phone call to a social worker to arrange an inspection , and let the visiting inspector see a disgusting situation.

Could you generate the same kind of concern from the authorities for an elderly person living in the same conditions?

(I know nothing about specific California law…so I’m just throwing out an idea)

I found a liberal application of boric acid spiked with a little bit of sugar to be remarkably effective, although it took a few months to work completely

I think it’s possible that the landlady was unaware as to how bad the infestation really is? Was it made clear in the letter to the same extent as you made it clear in the OP?

Between the four cats and my chronically ill husband, I want to keep the toxic substances inside the house at a minimum. I may have them spray inside the garage, once I move all the bottles of alcohol I brought over from the in-laws (it’s a truly ridiculous amount of liquor, and this is just the unopened bottles).

Get rid of the boxes if they are cardboard. Roaches adore paper products like paper grocery bags and cardboard boxes to nest and lay eggs in. Get some inexpensive covered plastic containers and transfer the contents of the boxes to the containers and put the boxes themselves on the curb for the trash to pick up. That will help a lot.