Who is responsible for rodent infestations – landlords or occupants?
Rodents can literally make your home uninhabitable. While you can deal with certain problems yourself, in the event of a serious outbreak you should always contact professionals. According to an infographic published on London Pest Control, rats are the most common form of pest control problem, appearing in 38% of all pest services in the UK.
Are the rodents entering through a structural fault?
If mice or rats are entering your home through a hole in the wall or structural defect, resolving this will be your landlord’s responsibility – providing you never caused the problem. This is explained in detail in section 11 of the Landlord & Tenant Act 1985. Your landlord should always assess the problem and find a solution before you move in. Failure to take the necessary precautions could result in the landlord being handed an improvement notice under the Housing Health and Safety Rating System.
Did you cause the problem?
You will almost certainly be held responsible for the pest infestation if the outbreak was due to your own negligence or if you have been living in the property for a long period of time. Leaving out bins and not cleaning up food are some of the most common causes of infestation. For this reason, dog owners often suffer from rodent issues – mice love to eat dog biscuits!
Your landlord may offer to pay for the extermination fees; however, if the pest control service discovers that you were the cause of the problem, they will report this fact to the landlord. While you might not get billed for the rodent extermination immediately, your landlord will still be entitled to deduct the fees from your deposit.
When an infestation is nobody’s fault, in the majority of circumstances your landlord will be held legally liable. You are paying for the property and it’s your landlord’s responsibility to ensure it’s properly maintained.
When did the problem begin?
If your home had a rodent problem when you moved in, it will be your landlord’s responsibility. Depending on the extent of the damage and whether or not the property is furnished, you may even be entitled to end the contract early. If this is the case, organisations such as Shelter will be able to give you free legal guidance.
If rodents weren’t present when you moved in, but were caused by a problem that should’ve been addressed prior to your tenancy, your landlord will again be responsible. These problems may be that the property has a structural flaw or that it wasn’t cleaned properly before your agreement started.
Can you sort out the problem yourself?
The best preventative measure against rodents is ensuring that your home is clean. Taking out bins on a regular basis and cleaning up food straight away is key. However, when you already have a problem, this probably won’t suffice, and traps and poison will be your only real options if you don’t want professional help.
Regardless of who you believe is responsible, you should always call your landlord and make them aware of the situation. If they refuse to take action, start the eradication procedures yourself. Keep all of the receipts, take before and after photographs of any damages, and ask for a written assessment of the situation from the pest control service. You will in turn be able to use this information as leverage if your landlord refuses to reimburse you.
This help and advice article was written by our friends at London Pest Control!