Pest control, landlords or tenants responsibility?

Pest control, landlords or tenants responsibility?

9:48 AM, 21st September 2012, About 12 years ago 7

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Pest control, landlords or tenants responsibility?At NPG, from time to time we get tenants calling 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;

  • A landlord is responsible for the structure of the building, utilities, sanitary provision and any fittings
  • If the pest problem is caused by a defect to the structure, for example, rats entering through outlet holes or broken sewer pipes, this would be the landlords problem to repair
  • This does not include pests which relate to the tenants everyday occupation of the house (for example mice, fleas, cockroaches, wasps etc)
  • The only exception being that a furnished property should be pest free before a tenant moves in

Personally as a matter of good practice I would always make sure that all of our houses are pest free, furnished or not, before a tenant moves in.

However, once a tenant has moved in, if they encounter any pests, it is their responsibility to remove them and cover the costs involved.

There is an excellent blog on the subject HERE.

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. It is also worth providing help and advice as to simple, cost effective DIY solutions.

We direct our tenants to our website which includes a guide on how to get rid of all household pests. It will keep your tenants happy and save the landlord money.

You can stop scratching now 🙂

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Steve Hards

23:19 PM, 21st September 2012, About 12 years ago

A useful summary, thanks, Glenn. Once we had a couple of mice dealt, with we supplied some plug-in devices that are supposed to keep them away. We were pretty sceptical about them but, given how much food debris our student tenants leave around, they seem to have worked for the past couple of years.


Joe Bloggs

11:41 AM, 22nd September 2012, About 12 years ago

pretty sound article in area of lots of confusion. however, surely all rentals should be pest free at time of letting, not just furnished.

Joe Bloggs

11:41 AM, 22nd September 2012, About 12 years ago

pretty sound article in area of lots of confusion. however, surely all rentals should be pest free at time of letting, not just furnished.

8:59 AM, 24th May 2013, About 11 years ago

Hello there, really like this one, hopefully all landlords knew of this. My friend in Singapore had to call professional pest control company to get rid of the pest in their unit good thing she called the right company for it (Major's Pest).

Mary Latham

12:32 PM, 24th May 2013, About 11 years ago

Infestation is part of a Housing Health and Safety Rating System Inspection and if an Environmental Health Officers finds pest present he will make a decision about the cause. If he decides that they are tenant cause ie. rodents caused by bad housekeeping he will advice the tenant to deal with them. If he decides that they are not tenant caused - a good example of this would be ants - he will tell the landlord to deal with them and if the landlord fails to do so he will serve a Notice on the landlord.

Most pests are fairly obvious but there are a couple of grey areas. Bedbugs, which have become very common in the last few years, are one of the most difficult. It is almost impossible to prove that the bedbugs were not present in a property before the tenant moved in because the hide in nooks and crannies until there is a food source - the tenant - and then make themselves known. The tenant will say that he did not bring them in and the landlord will say that they were not there before he moved in BUT how do either party prove it? In the absence of evidence the local authority will make the landlord responsible and may now offer a free service to eradicate bed bugs because they have become such a big problem.

This in not my opinion by the way it is what is happening for landlords regularly. We are considered responsible until we prove that we are not.

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Dr Monty Drawbridge

17:08 PM, 10th January 2017, About 7 years ago

A mouse or rat has rather conspicuously started chewing/scratching a fresh hole between the floor and skirting in the living room of a rented property. It's a suspended timber floor (recent T&G deck with floating floor on top) with a void under in a refurbished period terraced property. The void below is sealed front and back (except for mesh protected vent) and all drains rebuilt in recent years (so intact). However, I'd imagine that there are gaps in the walls between the voids of neighbouring houses (i.e. they are all interconnected along the street).

The contract makes the tenant liable for infestation during the term subject to the landlord keeping up to date with maintenance obligations.

I've ordered decent traps but it is not clear whether anything has actually got in yet - the hole is quite small (certainly too small to let a rat in although I suspect it could be a rat hole in progress) and there are no signs of droppings.

Having never had any rat problems, I caught two in the kitchen about six months ago (different tenants) - they had chewed through plasterboard and part of the concrete floorslab. I continued to leave traps for a number of weeks but all signs ceased (droppings, smell, damage) so I closed up the holes with mesh and they remain closed.

Any suggestions on first steps dealing with the appearance of a new hole and ongoing steps? There is no access to the void under.

I presume that if I block it effectively thy will just start to dig through elsewhere. Is it just a matter of running around stopping the holes as they appear, Wackamole style, for a while?

Nick Pope

9:47 AM, 15th January 2017, About 7 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Dr Monty Drawbridge " at "10/01/2017 - 17:08":

If yours is a typical Victorian terraced house then the party walls between each property will be a "sleeper" wall. These are of brick but have single bricks left out to allow air circulation to limit damp and, in particular, dry rot. Consequently rats can easily get from one house to another under the floors. In addition there are similar gaps in party walls in the roof for the same reasons and sometimes no party wall at all.
Consequently rats, mice, squiorrels etc. can move from house to house with relative ease.
I would advise against blocking the holes as it will increase the risk of rot.
You could form an access and put poison down but those available to you are not very effective and even if you get in a professional you have the problem of rotting corpses under the floor and a new rat family will occupy the territory almost immediately.
I am sorry to say that your preferred approach is probably the only solution but you can ask your tenants and the neighbours to carefully put all food waste in sealed bins and to throw it out regularly. Stress the diseases that rats/mice carry and the risk to their children.
I must however say that in a built up area it's a losing battle - they breed faster than you can kill them.

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