What can you do as a landlord about pests?
Whether it’s a wasps nest in the attic, rodents in the kitchen or a bed full of bugs, pests in the home are never welcome guests.
A recent survey found that the majority of people who had experienced a problem with pests in their home had done so when they were renting a property. Just 36% of the 2,000 people surveyed by blinds specialist Hillary’s, said they’d had a problem were homeowners.
As a landlord, what are your responsibilities when it comes to pest problems, and what obligations do the tenants have to keep the critters out?
First, check your tenancy agreement. There may be a clause in there that specifies who is responsible for sorting the problem no matter the cause.
If there is no specific clause written in the agreement, then as to who is responsible for an infestation of rats, mice, cockroaches, ants, fleas, mites or bed bugs depends on what the root of it is.
If the problem is caused, or has been made worse by, disrepair, such as a hole in the wall or floor, (this only applies if the property is furnished), or the place was infested before the current tenants moved in, then it’s likely you, as the landlord, will be responsible.
But tenants may be responsible for dealing with the problem if the infestation was caused by something they did, or failed to do, for example, not disposing of rubbish properly or leaving leftover food out.
In the event of any dispute as to who deals with the problem, an Environmental Health Officer may be able to determine the cause of the infestation.
What to do if the infestation is your problem
- Fix any holes in the wall or floor that allow mice, rats and other pests to get in
- Take steps to deal with the infestation such as calling pest control
- Fix any problems the pests have caused, such as damage to doors, skirting boards, pipes or brickwork or to electrical wiring
- Make sure your insurance is up to date and covers pest infestation
And if it’s the fault of the tenants?
Unless it states otherwise in your tenancy agreement, tenants should deal with the problem themselves if they are at fault. This could be as simple as them cleaning up after themselves, but may also require them calling in pest control.
Any damage done by a vermin infestation caused by their negligence can be deducted from their security deposit if it comes to that.
If the problem persists because of how the tenants are keeping the property, you’re then in a stickier situation which could ultimately end in eviction if the tenants refuse to improve their living standards, but this is rare and most disputes can be dealt with.
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