Mice problem in rural area

by Readers Question

10:57 AM, 26th August 2015
About 3 years ago

Mice problem in rural area

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Mice problem in rural area

I would like to ask if mice are a landlords responsibility to deal with or a tenants. mouse

I am a landlord who rents out a cottage in a rural area and the property regularly gets field mice.

I have provided two humane traps for the tenant, Just wanted to know if I have any further obligations?

Debbie



Comments

Neil Patterson

11:01 AM, 26th August 2015
About 3 years ago

Hi Debbie,

This may sound like a stupid question, but have you considered letting tenants have cats if they want. I am a cat owner myself and from experience that is problem solved.

However tenants do need to make sure they deal with their rubbish and food waste appropriately to not attract vermin.

Dr Rosalind Beck

15:45 PM, 26th August 2015
About 3 years ago

Hi Debbie.
I think it's a grey area. We usually deal with this problem as landlords when it arises - but the tenant has to play their part as Neil says regarding not leaving food out. I lived at the edge of the countryside in Spain and the only time I had a mouse (it happened twice) was when by accident a rubbish bag with food was left in the kitchen when we returned to the UK for a few weeks. My experience is that they only come when food is left out.

matchmade

15:53 PM, 26th August 2015
About 3 years ago

This is a potential minefield. If you have a stroppy tenant and the mice problem is not solved by the traps, he or she could report you to the council's Environmental Health department, who may take the line that as the landlord you are responsible for solving the problem because you are expected to provide a healthy property to the tenant. This can apply even if you have a clause in the contract explicitly stating that mice are the tenant's problem.

This happened to a landlord acquaintance of mine: she said the principal cause of the problem was that the tenant was not cleaning their kitchen properly, and the mice were seeking food. She also asked where it stated in the health and safety legislation that vermin are the landlord's responsibility; she accepted that the landlord is obliged to deliver working utilities, including fresh water and functional sewers. This may have been a mistake, as EHOs, like building inspectors, don't like to be challenged on their knowledge of the legislation and can get very procedural if they take a dislike to you. The EHO replied that the tenant was allowed to live in a messy house if he wished, as long as it wasn't affecting anyone else, and the problem was that the fabric of the building was not sealed correctly against entry by mice, so this was the landlord's responsibility. He probably knew full well that it is virtually impossible to seal a house against really determined mice, as they can squeeze through remarkably small holes, but he must have decided that whatever it might say or not say in a tenancy agreement or national legislation, as EHO he is responsible for public health on the ground, and therefore it was the landlord's job, as the property owner and responsible party, to sort things out.

I suspect this is a case where you want to be ultra-cooperative and very nice to the tenant, to ask him or her to clean up rigorously and watch to see where the mice are coming in. Reminding the tenant that mice don't have bladders and urinate constantly as they scamper around the house may provide an incentive to tidy up. I'd also have a good check for possible entry points: signs of urine and faeces in particular. Also, why are you bothering with the humane traps? If you catch and then release the mice outside rather than kill them, won't they just come back? What you don't want is for them to set up a nest and start having lots of babies, or get a taste for living in houses and continue visiting through the winter, when food sources are fewer outside.

Teg's Dad

15:54 PM, 26th August 2015
About 3 years ago

Neil's suggestion is a good one, provided that the cat is not over-fed! Also any dog lover who has a terrier (Jack Russell for preference) since they make good ratters.

Adrian Jones

16:33 PM, 26th August 2015
About 3 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Teg's Dad" at "26/08/2015 - 15:54":

We live in the country and have two cats who love bringing home live mice as presents!

Teg's Dad

17:30 PM, 26th August 2015
About 3 years ago

We live in the town and wait until one of your cats brings back a dead bird, hides it behind a small bookcase and then a fly lands on it and lays eggs. We were unaware until a few weeks later we noticed a lot of flies lazily flying about. We sucked then up in a vacuum then five minutes later they were back! An hour later we tracked the source, then it was "On with the *Marigolds"!

*other rubber gloves are available.

Alan Bromley

9:41 AM, 27th August 2015
About 3 years ago

These are just woodmice and are simply part of living in the countryside. Preventing their entry in the first place is the best course of action but even if there is no food available they may well take up residence if they can get in and out easily. Having a cat may make the problem worse because, as someone has already noted, cats often bring in live mice (or half-dead ones, which are worse) and they will escape and hide in the house.

Lots of humane traps in various places will help initially, but look to see how they are getting in.


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