big.cockroach.jpgDave’s here to answer your questions every Wednesday, so send them to him at tenant@sfappeal.com

I moved into a studio apartment about three months ago, and am having a few problems with pests. First of all is a persistent ant problem.Of greater concern (to me) is a total of three cockroach sightings: one adult, and two that looked like babies. I have notified my landlord in writing whenever I’ve seen a roach; he also knows about the ants, but I’m sure he can’t do much about them. Our building is sprayed semi-monthly. In a past column you mentioned that pests aren’t covered by San Francisco housing code. Do I have any recourse if I keep seeing roaches? I’m not sure if I can live with them!

I need to set this straight. While I reported that pests are not necessarily covered by the housing code, they are certainly covered by California Health and Safety Code 17920.3 (a)(12), which provides that any building or unit in which there is an infestation of insects, vermin, or rodents as determined by the health officer that endangers the life, limb, health, property, safety, or welfare of the public or the occupants thereof shall be deemed and hereby is declared to be a substandard building.

The question is: Will a health officer, an inspector from the San Francisco Department of Public Health, find that an ant infestation rises to a level that endangers the life, limb, health, property or safety? I honestly don’t know. You have to contact a health inspector (which you can do via 311) to find out. As I pointed out in Tenant Troubles: Ant Infestation “[A]nts do not carry disease, nor do they make it a habit to bite people unless they are molested.” The San Francisco Department of Public Health does not list ants as a health code violation.

Cockroaches, on the other hand, do carry disease and are uniformly recognized as insects that do endanger safety and welfare. Contact the DPH (again, via 311) to report a complaint if you see that your cockroach infestation is becoming a problem. Frankly, I’m not sure that a three cockroach sighting amounts to one. DPH will tell you what comprises an infestation worthy of concern to them.

Frankly, it seems like your landlord may be trying to be vigilant, given the fact that he sprays for pests on a semi-monthly basis. I’m not so sure that you could demonstrate a decrease in services for purposes of a Rent Board petition, given the facts as you have stated them.

Dave Crow is an attorney who specializes in San Francisco landlord tenant law. However, the opinions expressed in these articles are those of the author, do not constitute legal advice, and the information is general in nature. Consult the advice of an attorney for any specific problem. You understand that no attorney-client relationship will exist with Dave Crow or his firm, Crow & Rose unless they have agreed to represent you. You should not respond to this site with any information that you believe is highly confidential.

the author

Dave Crow is an attorney who specializes in San Francisco landlord tenant law. However, the opinions expressed in these articles are those of the author, do not constitute legal advice, and the information is general in nature. Consult the advice of an attorney for any specific problem. You understand that no attorney-client relationship will exist with Dave Crow or his firm, Crow & Rose unless they have agreed to represent you. You should not respond to this site with any information that you believe is highly confidential.

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  • Xenu

    Jesus Christ, quit whining and put out some poison and keep your food sealed off like the rest of us.

  • Xenu

    Jesus Christ, quit whining and put out some poison and keep your food sealed off like the rest of us.

  • salsaman

    Agreed with Xenu. Anyway, three cockroach sightings in three months?! Get some Combat and stfu.

  • salsaman

    Agreed with Xenu. Anyway, three cockroach sightings in three months?! Get some Combat and stfu.

  • Pumpkin Pie

    Allegedly cockroaches can survive a nuclear war, so consider how ineffective spray is. Maybe expect more roaches to join the party…… Love it or leave it?

  • Pumpkin Pie

    Allegedly cockroaches can survive a nuclear war, so consider how ineffective spray is. Maybe expect more roaches to join the party…… Love it or leave it?

  • grannygear

    There is something called boric acid that works well. I put it everywhere my cat can’t reach and have seen 8 roaches in 8 years, usually when someone nearby moves out. I cut cardboard to fit under my sink and put the boric acid under it, and I think that keeps them away too.

    There is also diatomaceous earth. I used this when I got bedbugs, and I got rid of them myself with this and Raid Flea and Tick Spray, the only one that bedbugs do not seem to like. I bought the diatomaceous earth in bulk at Rainbow because the one in the hardware store contained roach pheramones. I did not want to attract the roaches here in order to klll them! I swear that is what a roach motel does, I advise everyone not to use them. I have seen them with one large roach and other roach parts lying around, as if it were eating anything that came near it, waiting for the shelf life of the glue to wear off!!!

    I have not had bedbugs since the original 8(knock wood) – 3 adults and 5 babies that came right out of a pillow fabric I sprayed with that Raid – I watched them seep through the threads!!! After that, I did the diatomaceous earth thing and have not seen a bedbug for 2 years(knock wood).

    This is for roaches or bedbugs. Ants are hard. The only thing I’ve heard lately is that they will not cross a chalk line.

    Hope this helps some people!

  • grannygear

    There is something called boric acid that works well. I put it everywhere my cat can’t reach and have seen 8 roaches in 8 years, usually when someone nearby moves out. I cut cardboard to fit under my sink and put the boric acid under it, and I think that keeps them away too.

    There is also diatomaceous earth. I used this when I got bedbugs, and I got rid of them myself with this and Raid Flea and Tick Spray, the only one that bedbugs do not seem to like. I bought the diatomaceous earth in bulk at Rainbow because the one in the hardware store contained roach pheramones. I did not want to attract the roaches here in order to klll them! I swear that is what a roach motel does, I advise everyone not to use them. I have seen them with one large roach and other roach parts lying around, as if it were eating anything that came near it, waiting for the shelf life of the glue to wear off!!!

    I have not had bedbugs since the original 8(knock wood) – 3 adults and 5 babies that came right out of a pillow fabric I sprayed with that Raid – I watched them seep through the threads!!! After that, I did the diatomaceous earth thing and have not seen a bedbug for 2 years(knock wood).

    This is for roaches or bedbugs. Ants are hard. The only thing I’ve heard lately is that they will not cross a chalk line.

    Hope this helps some people!

  • ginger

    Unfortunately spraying your apartment, using borax, raid, roach motels … may work for the short term, but you will NEVER be clear of roaches. No matter if you seal up ALL your food, pots & pans, dishes, religiously clean your apartment … you get the idea. This is because there are others in your apartment complex who are complete slobs and attract roaches. They don’t care if there are roaches, they are so dirty, they probably don’t even know they have roaches. These roaches will come to your clean apartment and lay eggs. Yes, baby roaches. You should look in warm places. I had a roach colony in my radio and laundry basket. Even with my ocd I woke up with them in my hair.

    What is my recourse? I don’t know. It is hard to find inexpensive safe housing in SF.

    I understand people’s frustration. And for those who think it is a bunch of crap, have some compassion, and take a whiff of yourself. You smell. Wash your clothes, take a shower and buy some deodorant.

  • ginger

    Unfortunately spraying your apartment, using borax, raid, roach motels … may work for the short term, but you will NEVER be clear of roaches. No matter if you seal up ALL your food, pots & pans, dishes, religiously clean your apartment … you get the idea. This is because there are others in your apartment complex who are complete slobs and attract roaches. They don’t care if there are roaches, they are so dirty, they probably don’t even know they have roaches. These roaches will come to your clean apartment and lay eggs. Yes, baby roaches. You should look in warm places. I had a roach colony in my radio and laundry basket. Even with my ocd I woke up with them in my hair.

    What is my recourse? I don’t know. It is hard to find inexpensive safe housing in SF.

    I understand people’s frustration. And for those who think it is a bunch of crap, have some compassion, and take a whiff of yourself. You smell. Wash your clothes, take a shower and buy some deodorant.