Rats in brand new block of flats?

Rats in brand new block of flats?

13:53 PM, 8th September 2022, About 4 weeks ago 9

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Hello All, As a landlord, when a tenant mentioned there were mice/rats I immediately called in someone who knew how to deal with them. This company issued the same advice to the tenant that I had given them regarding keeping the floor swept etc.

After a couple of visits, some sweeping, some emptying of traps, a change to the dustbin lid regime indoors and out, a chat with the neighbours to mirror simple changes and the problem, possibly partly seasonally driven, went away. It cost me about £150 and a few hours. Happy tenant. They stayed another couple of years before job moves took them away.

It wasn’t a question of hands-on-hips stances and blame games. It just got dealt with.

I’m still a landlord (only just and am exiting asap for oft mentioned reasons) but now have grown up offspring in rented accommodation.

A flat in new build block of 6. Very nice.

Snagging issues not dealt with. Ineffectual property management. Absent owners. Problems that are definitely NOT the tenants’ problems and are entirely NHBC or build quality issues. E.g. kitchen floor laid with no expansion strips – bulged, can’t open/close doors.

Multiple emails to get any responses; responses take weeks. Followed by a visit by ‘people’ who know bugger all, tut a lot, say something without saying anything and then go away without anything happening. The arrangements to get any response is frustrating. Responses generally stating that the tenant is not allowed to do anything but then nothing is fixed.

I get the feeling the managing agent is a puppet of the owner, the owner doesn’t want to spend any money and the building was put together with many corners cut. A race to the bottom.

Now RATS. They are rats and have been seen. Big so-and-sos. Eating bedding, cables, using holes in the walls to gain entry. Everything smells of urine and there are droppings everywhere.

The agent (after being repeatedly contacted for help for 2 weeks) simply blamed the tenant for leaving food out and then stated that the tenant is not allowed to do anything and … that they would send someone around but didn’t want to bother the owner about trivial things that are the tenant’s fault. Another 2 weeks pass and then I find out. Hence this post.

More context. The flats are built behind shops on a high street. The shops are varied and have their share of grocery stores and takeaways. The ‘backyards’ of the shops are between the flats and the back of the shop building and this is where the biffa bins are for the shops. When I helped No.2 child and partner move I did note this and know these ‘backyard’ areas are a good place to go ratting if that’s what floats your boat. I kept quiet.

The LA were contacted and some ‘inspector’ did come round and knowledgeably point out that there were rats. Bless the UK school education system. I would categorise the LA’s response as ‘disinterested’.

In the interests of balance, I’m only accusing the agent, builder and owner of poor service, poor quality and incompetence. Given what little I know about the owner’s professional relationship with the agent I would be very tempted to suggest that they aren’t averse to an occasional s21 or two to keep tenants in their place.

What I am not doing is blaming them for the rats.

The incompetence and quality issues started before day 1. None of the unholy trinity are proactive in any way and even less likely to spend any money at all on fixing anything. The owner has never directly communicated and is uncontactable. A completely unacceptable situation.

Someone related to the building contractor visited and agreed that there were rats but also pointed out that there were rats in the building before it was finished but were not obliged to pass that information on to prospective tenants.

So the tenants put a WhatsApp group together and have placed notices around publicly stating ‘RATS’ but are at a loss regarding where to go from there. They have been told by the agent that they are not allowed to carry out any remedial work themselves for any problem. The tenants are concerned that they will be blamed for the rodent damage and have their deposits withheld. Some tenants have small children and are unhappy.

I am incredibly concerned about health issues and fire risks.

I have little to offer other than to record phone calls, keep an accurate record of events with photos and attempt to persuade the LA there is a public health issue.

I also suggested that when they catch rats, they should dump them on the agent’s desk.

What should the tenants do?

Thanks

Hamish



Comments

DSR

10:30 AM, 9th September 2022, About 4 weeks ago

A mass email to Environmental Health is required listing all tenants that are complaining copied in to the Head of Housing at the Council. Make a formal complaint also via the Council complaint process and demand a personal response from the Head of the Environmental Department. Copy al this in to the local MP and the local newspaper.
Hit hard.
Any yes a rat on the agents desk might be required!
As you yourself know use the S21 to your kids (tenants) advantage . If he issues al the tenants with one he's got a long wait ahead of him and anyway if you get in with the Council beforehand he may mean he can't issue one for 6 months anyway AND he has to show the problem is rectified...

Adrianne Major

11:06 AM, 9th September 2022, About 4 weeks ago

A rat appeared under the bath in one of my properties. Several had also been seen outside. Fortunately my tenants were two young men, one of whom was a gardener. They acquired poison and dealt with the rats.
Next door was a kebab shop, whose waste bin was always overflowing and never closed. I spoke to the manager of the shop as did my tenants. I also organised a visit from the health inspector from the council who wrote to the shop. For awhile all was good, but this shop was, and I’m sorry to say it, owned, managed and staffed by immigrants, who refused to understand British health and hygiene laws.
I did several years ago have one of them arrested for raising his hand to me when I was attempting to tell him that he was not allowed in the garden of the flats.
Shops under or around private homes can be a health hazard, I would never buy another in that position.

Claire Smith

14:13 PM, 9th September 2022, About 4 weeks ago

Its terrible that the LA did not help and perhaps the local media would be interested in this?
I would suggest finding some friendly owners of Jack Russells. There are some ratting teams available. I don't see that the landlord or agent could really complain about that.
Following their visit, I would then ignore the owner on the grounds that they are putting the tenants health at risk and would definitely get a pest control company in, which hopefully all the tenants would contribute to.
It's landlords like this which give us all a bad name.

Hamish McBloggs

9:56 AM, 10th September 2022, About 4 weeks ago

Reply to the comment left by DSR at 09/09/2022 - 10:30Thanks DSR,
After a life with a few knocks I too have that 'hit hard' belligerent attitude. I'm not convinced the same of young tenants.
It does seem that leaning on the LA is the way forward followed by invoking the complaints procedure if the result is indifference again followed by the MP. I don't know what the LA's service level is, 7 working days?, and suspect they have more than enough to do without this additional task.
Unfortunately the communications with the LA to date on other matters have been, shall we say, 'not favourable'. For instance, being formally blamed for leaving the flats' 'grundon' bin in the street where upon it turns out to be lazy bin men. LA refuse (no pun intended) to listen. And then there's the matter of trying ever so hard to register for council tax and being told you don't exist ...
So I have this really uncomfortable feeling that it's the LA department 1 that deals with shops, department 2 deals with bins, department 3 deals with rats in shops but not flats, department 4 deals with flats but not rats, department 5 ... all seamlessly communicating.
This is also a balancing act. Inexperienced tenants and a landlord I'd like to meet.
Hamish

Hamish McBloggs

10:08 AM, 10th September 2022, About 4 weeks ago

Reply to the comment left by Adrianne Major at 09/09/2022 - 11:06
Adrianne,

Unfortunately we look at properties in a different way to tenants. To some extent we are trained by years of experience and stories shared by others enabling us to spot problems a country mile away.

The tenants have bought 'humane' traps. I proposed something a little blunter. I even spent a gory 10 minutes on youtube to find better methods ... only to conclude that some people should be arrested just in case.

The problem with poison is the fact that the rats appear from the walls, holes behind radiators for example and you don't want them festering in the fabric of the building if that's where they are living.

The LA's approach will be poison.

It is the LA that will need to review the practices of the shops; this can't be the tenants job and it's highly unlikely the LL cares at all.

Thanks

Hamish

Hamish McBloggs

10:19 AM, 10th September 2022, About 4 weeks ago

Reply to the comment left by Claire Smith at 09/09/2022 - 14:13
Claire,

It seems a more forceful approach to the LA may realise some results. It's all going to take time as any 'strike force' negotiates a budget from the bean counters. Time measured in glacial terms.

I'm going to guess that once it accepted there may be a problem, someone has to be scheduled to visit, then they visit (again), then they report, then the report passes through the LA's alimentary canal ...

I would like to share other details about this LL's and agents practices but it would distract from the immediate question.

Suffice it to say, this LL is not doing our reputation any good at all and the tenants are firmly on the side of s21 abolition because of this.

Thanks

Hamish

Hamish McBloggs

10:31 AM, 10th September 2022, About 4 weeks ago

All,

If the tenants pay for a pest control company to come in and deal with the problem is there any redress?

Does any LL here think they should be, at least partly, responsible?

Or do you think my method of dealing with it was too 'soft'?

It's not our fault that rodents appear. It's not the tenant's fault either.

There may be blame to be had somewhere after a qualified investigation of the LA's refuse collection teams, shop hygeine review, building control review, review of this LL etc.

But we can all see that unless the problem is 'owned' by an individual then the solution is going to be patchy in the short term and in the medium term likely to be a complete waste of time and resources.

Who here would pay for a pest control and join forces with the tenants to harangue LA about things beyond their control?

Thanks

Hamish

DSR

17:00 PM, 10th September 2022, About 4 weeks ago

how about a different tack? Complain to the LA Enviro Health but as a customer of the food store/restaurant/shops saying it a public health issue and the shops are not disposing of commercial waste property and you also suspect fly tipping.

The LA might be more interested as they might sniff there is money in it for them. Send them photos etc. They have to reply and there si another avenue to complaint if they don't. Also means you have to get a full response from, so if they don't act then you go hell for leather down the complaint route.

That way no connection between the shop and the LL but the end result might be the same and the LL will never know its you that complained. Suggest you put the word round the rest of the block to call the council off their own back....the more people complain then they have more reason to have to act?

Claire Smith

10:57 AM, 11th September 2022, About 4 weeks ago

Reply to the comment left by Hamish McBloggs at 10/09/2022 - 10:19
I think DSR has a good idea to complain as a customer of the shops, and would suggest that he gets friends to also complain. If that doesn't get a response, photos of the rats to the local media and on local Facebook forums may help. The LA are very lax about their own use of pest control and I know that we had to shame them into action win the past - I think that my mother's comment that their attitude was 'positively mediaeval' finally got them to react.
It is definitely the job of the shops to make sure that rats don't have access to their waste and any decent business would respond. Obviously we all know that not all businesses are decent and that fast food is a particularly bad sector.
It's disgusting that the property owner won't react, but landlords don't want to give the building a bad name and devalue their investment, so there are limits to how public they may want the problem to become.

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