Honourable and personal residential letting experts

19Jul

Who is responsible for pests when renting?

It’s that season when the creepy crawlies like to come out to play. To be honest, the answer as to who is responsible when an outbreak occurs is… it very much it depends on what and how the pests appear.

However, there are some basic facts to rely on:

  • What, if anything, is included in the tenancy agreement about responsibility for dealing with infestations?
  • Whether the infestation has been caused by a structural defect.
  • Whether the issue was present when the tenant moved in.
  • Where the issue is a natural occurrence, there may be a 50/50 split the cost 

Sometimes it is down to your resident to ensure the way they live does not attract pests, and for you, the owner, to ensure that structural issues such as poor brickwork or uncapped pipes are tackled to prevent pests getting in.

Whoever is responsible, it is important that action is taken and who will be paying the bill sorted out later.

Common pest problems

Flies

Are more common in warmer weather and if your property is near fields, harvest time will mean more flies around.  They will also be attracted by food if left out. They are a nuisance but are defiantly not the responsibility of the landlord. The only proviso is unless you find a lot of dead flies on a windowsill in between tenancies – this will usually be down to the time and quality of the final clean – and that’s why you don’t do it until a day or so before your residents move in.

Rats and mice 

A difficult problem to have as they could be caused by the property or changes to the landscape. For example when the A14 was being modernised we noticed an increased rat problem in the Huntingdon area as there were a lot of earth work changes – but it also could also be down to the way your resident lives. Both rats and mice need to gnaw to maintain their teeth so if left they can cause structural damage through gnawing on brick as well as pipes and electrical cables. There have also been cases of flooding and electrical fires attributed to rodent activity. The best way to deal with this issue is to advise Environmental Health immediately as they have professionals to deal with the issue and be in a better position to advise you on the cause. At that point you will be clear as to who fits the bill.

Bed bugs

In the early stages of an infestation, bed bugs can be difficult to detect as their ‘young’ stages are so very small. Bed bugs can be transported into a property on furniture and luggage. They are rarely an owner issue but, to be honest, people tend not to admit to having bed bugs and tend to deal with the issue themselves.

Cockroaches

Love humid areas such as heating ducts, pipes, at the back of stoves and sinks. They will feed on anything including refuse, faecal matter, and food for consumption. If there has never been an infestation the question must be asked as to how your resident is living. This is another issue that needs to be jumped on immediately and dealt with by a professional.

Fleas 

Are usually bought in by pets or furniture. If you have never had a pet in a property it’s quite easy to identify where the issue started. If your previous resident had a pet, it could be the issue is an older one and therefore down to you (as landlord) to deal with.

Ants 

If they make it in to the house, 99% of the time this will be down to the way your resident is living. Therefore advising on where the nearest garden centre is to buy some ant powder is the best you can do .

What to do if you are advised of a pest issue:

Listen to what your resident is describing. If you are dealing with overseas residents, they may have a different understanding as to what a pest infestation is.

Rats, mice and cockroaches need to be dealt with as a matter of urgency. Therefore a call to your local environmental officer is required. It can also be a good idea to direct tenants to BPCA’s online A-Z of Pests guide, which gives detailed advice and information on a range of common pests, and to share simple tips on preventing infestations.

We would also make sure that you make a note somewhere that you have discussed the issue so that there is no question of liability at the end of the tenancy.

Best advice you can give your resident:

Clean it up


Food debris, spillages, crumbs and dust particles including shed skin can all be food sources for pests. Regular cleaning is the most important step to prevent pests.

Bag it and bin it


Bins can be a feast for pests. Household waste should be bagged up placed in a bin with a lid that fits securely. Dustbins should be sited well away from access points to the property. Never leave a bin bag out in the open, it will attract pests!