I own a rental house which the last tenant vacated over 8 months ago. The new tenants' dog now has fleas and they are blaming us and the house.

Asked by rebel_heart, Butte, MT Wed Jul 9, 2014

The house was gutted after the last tenants moved out except hard surfaces (tile, wood floors which were cleaned several times thoroughly). All the carpet was replaced with new, all the cabinets and even the baseboard moldings were torn out and replaced. The previous tenants had pets, but never said anything about a flea problem. The new tenants have been living there a few weeks and have a dog. Today they told me the dog has fleas and the house will have to be fogged. They are blaming us as landlords saying the previous tenants left fleas. I just can't believe fleas house could have survived without a host that long. No one ever got any flea bites over that time period when they were in the house working or for the first three weeks of residency. They claim the dog is on FrontLine for fleas and the fleas couldn't have come from their dog. The lease says they are responsible for pest control, but I want to do what's right. Any advice.

Help the community by answering this question:

+ web reference
Web reference:


Annette Lawrence’s answer
Annette Law…, Agent, Palm Harbor, FL
Thu Jul 10, 2014
I've been in foreclosed homes that were vacant over a year and found my clothes covered with fleas. They seem to survive well without an obvious host.

When called by agents to show my listing permission was preconditioned on not visiting that house before coming to my listing.

Now, are your tenants co-operative or combative. If you choose the path of 'dong what's right' are they going to punish you further? Meaning, are they going to attempt to stick you with the bill for alternative housing during remediation? Cost of dry cleaning and washing of dishes after event? Are they going to hold you the cause when headaches and allergies flare up in the next month or two?

If you have trustworthy folks on the other side, have the house fumigated. If not, have the tenant take care if it themselves. You place was flea free when they moved in.
0 votes
Thank you for your reply. I think we have good folks here, but that being said - you never really know. The tenant was taking the word of the vet that fleas can survive for many months, but did not think about the fact the dog had been other places besides the house and Frontline can take 18 hours to kill fleas that get on a dog. I had my own independent pest control evaluation done and he agreed the house was flea free, but we should spray the yard. What a learning experience!
Flag Thu Jul 10, 2014
Karen Peyton, Agent, Chandler, AZ
Thu Jul 10, 2014
"...but I want to do what's right." Now that's a beautiful thing and a breath of fresh air in a world running amok. Thank you!

In order to find out the life cycle and host requirement of fleas, I'd contact a local pest control company and ask the question. I do find it quite suspicious your present tenants lived in the house for three weeks without complaint. A lot of "living" can occur during that time including a visiting pet with fleas!

I think I'd let it go this time around. Should it happen again, I would inquire with them about their living habits (e.g. do they go camping, have visiting pets, etc).

Best of luck to you!


"Do all the good you can. By all the means you can. In all the ways you can. In all the places you can. At all the times you can. To all the people you can. As long as ever you can." John Wesley
1 vote
Glad for your positive outcome!
Flag Thu Jul 10, 2014
Thank you so much for your reply. What I ended up doing was calling Orkin and the rep was very knowledgeable and helpful. They advised that in this climate, it's very dry and highly unlikely flea eggs or larvae could have survived without a host for 8-9 months. She said if we only treat the house, we will not be successful because the dog most likely picked up the fleas elsewhere and brought them home since the tenants themselves are not being attacked. She recommended we spray the yard. In the meantime, the tenant rushed the dog to the groomer only to discover it had no fleas! So either they died or the vet was wrong. This seemed to calm the tenants down a bit. While I offered to have the yard sprayed, they opted to have it done themselves and they will fo
g the house "just to be safe." I think it was just an over-reaction, but wow! did I learn a lot.
Flag Thu Jul 10, 2014
Search Advice
Ask our community a question
Rentals in Butte Zip Codes

Email me when…

Learn more