Most landlords have at some point or other faced the problem of mice, rats and other pests in their rental properties. In the first of a new in-depth question and answer series, Redbridge Environmental Solutions advises on the respective responsibilities of landlords and tenants to prevent pests, and what to do if your property has a pest problem.
It is common for Letting Agents to get calls from their tenants about pest control. It can range from mice, to rats, ants, fleas, bed-bugs, cockroaches and even wasps nests. By the way, if you start scratching whilst you are reading this, don’t worry – it happens to me!
There’s a lot of confusion as to who is responsible for removal – the landlord or the tenant?
The principles are relatively simple;
However, once a tenant has moved in, if they encounter any pests, it is their responsibility to remove them and cover the costs involved.
It’s always best to set out your pest policy in your tenancy agreement,
So that the tenant knows the position in advance – this will avoid later disappointment when they call requesting help.
Q. What are the main pests landlords should be aware of?
A. RES: Pests commonly found in this country include insects such as fleas, bed bugs, cockroaches, ants and wasps, as well as mice, rats, pigeons, foxes, and even squirrels. Mice and rats are probably the most common, although the RES Advice Line has taken calls over the years about most of the above.
Q. What are the respective responsibilities of landlords and tenants in relation to pests?
A. RES: As a landlord, you would be expected, as far as possible, to keep your property free from pests and in a way that neither attracts them nor makes it easy for them to occupy the property. The Prevention of Damage by Pests Act 1949 is still in force and you could be served with a statutory notice to eradicate the pests if an infestation at your property is causing a problem for tenants or neighbours.
If your property is infested and deemed to be in a ‘verminous condition’ you could also be obliged to take action to remove the risk under Public Health laws.
These notices could be served on the tenants if it is deemed to be their responsibility, being caused by their lifestyle or actions, for example
by leaving food lying around on surfaces or failing to dispose properly of waste. If the tenant who caused the problem has moved out, the landlord will usually be obliged to eradicate the pests before the next tenant moves in.
If the problem only became apparent after new tenants moved in, but it was obvious that it wasn’t their fault, again, the landlord would be expected to sort it out.
In addition to this, the Housing Act 2004 introduced the Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS) as a means of assessing potential hazards in accommodation. Of these, the Domestic Hygiene, Pests and Refuge hazard deals with:
Q. What steps can landlords take to prevent pests infesting their property?
A. RES: Prevention is better than cure, as an infestation can cost landlords dear in terms of callouts from pest control companies and lost rent if the property is uninhabitable for any period of time due to a serious infestation.
Practical steps landlords can take to avoid pests include:
Q. If an infestation occurs, what should landlords do?
A. RES: Call Redbridge Environmental Solutions. We will rapidly respond to your problem and deal with it, giving you and your tenants peace of mind.
We at Redbridge Environmental Solutions can provide a comprehensive landlord / Tennant information report pack for peace of mind. This includes a full detailed Environmental Health investigation of the property for total pest control and health and hygiene. We can guarantee that every part of your property is inspected and reported. This will assist in any landlord / Tenant disputes regarding responsibility of pest control and Health & Hygiene matters.
For further information or advice please contract us and we will be happy to advise.