The Landlord and Tenant Guide to Pest Management--The Key to Safe Pest Control is Teamwork

Property Managers and Landlords

While routine pest management may be an integral part of maintaining rental property, landlords and property managers should be aware that their use of pesticide is regulated by the New York State Environmental Conservation Law (ECL Article 33 §33-0905). When landlords and property managers become aware of a pest infestation, the first thought may be to exterminate the pests. However, the Environmental Conservation Law says that a person may only apply pesticides to the individual dwelling unit (e.g., house or apartment) in which they reside, unless they are a certified commercial applicator.

  • A landlord can treat property that is occupied by a tenant, only if (s)he is a certified commercial pesticide applicator. Pesticide applications should not be done in an occupied dwelling unit by an unlicensed landlord, property manager, or building superintendent. To obtain information on becoming a certified applicator, refer to the section entitled, "To Become A Certified Applicator".
  • This requirement applies to the use of any pesticide, including general use products and restricted use pesticides.

Managers and landlords can take steps to minimize the use of pesticides and comply with environmental laws of New York State.

  • Inspect the property often. This will help you identify what, where and why pests are active and determine how to fix the problem.
  • Treat the property. Pesticides should be used only as a last resort. If non-toxic methods fail or are impractical, use a pesticide that is effective for the intended pest and least likely to affect people and pets. Only trained and qualified specialists should handle or apply pesticides.
  • Monitor and Evaluate the property for pests to ensure that once actions are taken or an area is treated, the pests do not return.


The Environmental Conservation Law says that tenants may treat their own living space with a general use pesticide, but may not apply a product in common living areas (e.g. hallways, doorways, or stairwells in multi-unit housing).

If a pesticide is used, always:

Call Poisoning Control, 1-800-222-1222
  • Read the label first.

    Product labels contain important instructions on proper application and the amount to use. Applying more than the recommended amount is dangerous and illegal, and does not improve results.

  • Buy only pesticides that have an EPA Registration Number on the label and are in their original container.

    Never purchase pesticides from street vendors. They may be dangerous and illegal. Some illegal pesticides appeal to children because they resemble candy or other familiar objects. A child may eat or touch the product and get sick.

  • Never transfer the contents of a pesticide product into another container.

    This can lead to accidental ingestion.

  • Choose a pesticide that is specific for the pest you have.

    If the label indicates that a product should be used outdoors, it should never be used indoors. If a product is designated for crawling insects, it should not be used on flying insects.

If you or someone you know experiences an illness or injury related to pesticide use, call a doctor or Poison Control Center (1-800-222-1222) immediately for treatment advice. If medical treatment is sought, please have the pesticide label available for the treating physician. The pesticide label will provide the physician with valuable information necessary to treat suspected poisoning.

Proper Pest Management Practices for Landlords and Tenants

Integrated Pest Management is geared toward longterm prevention or elimination of pests that does not solely rely on pesticides. Integrated Pest Management follows the principles of preventing entry, inspecting, monitoring, and treating pests on an as needed basis. These principles help manage pests by using the most economical means, and with the least possible hazard to people, property, and the environment. Pests thrive in environments where food, water, and shelter is available. If an undesirable environment is created, pests can be prevented, reduced, or eliminated.

Using Integrated Pest Management

  • Reduce pest problems by keeping the house, yard and garden free from clutter and garbage. Food should not be left uncovered on counters. Food should be stored in tightly sealed containers or in the refrigerator.
  • Keep pests outdoors by blocking points of entry. Quality sealant or knitted copper mesh can be used along baseboards, pipes, drains and other access points to seal cracks and repair holes.
  • If a pest problem arises, identify the pest and the extent of the infestation. Your local Cornell Cooperative Extension office can offer assistance.
  • Use methods with the least hazard to people and pets, such as setting traps/bait, using a flyswatter or fly ribbon paper. Bait and traps should be kept out of the reach of children and pets.
  • Remove trash on a regular basis and always use trash cans with tight fitting lids. If pests can get in garbage, they will return repeatedly to get food.
  • If a certified pesticide applicator is needed, be sure that (s)he understands and follow Integrated Pest Management principles and practices.

Helpful Websites

To Become A Certified Applicator

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, Division of Solid & Hazardous Materials, sets standards and criteria for pesticide applicator certification and certification renewal. For more information, visit the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation website.