LANDLORDS and TENANTS – Responsibility for Pest Infestations
All homes are vulnerable to problems with pests at some time or other, from bed bugs brought home from a 5* holiday or a simple wasp nest at a rented flat.
Sometimes an issue with the building can lead to a pest infestation and sometimes negligent behaviour on the part of the occupants is responsible.
But, who is ultimately responsible for dealing with a pest infestation at a rental property?
(or to put it plainly – who’s got to pay!?)
Its not always straightforward working out who is responsible. Once the cause of the issue has been established then any culpability may be assigned. A good pest controller should be able to identify the cause of an infestation, which may then indicate who is responsible.
You will probably be responsible for dealing with an infestation if:
- You are providing furnished rented accommodation and the pest problem existed prior to the tenants moving in.
- Your tenancy agreement says you’re responsible – and/or it says you will keep the property in a “good and habitable state” or similar statement.
- The infestation was caused by you failing to keep up routine maintenance at the house – for example, not actioning repair works as required.
- Ultimately the landlord is responsible for dealing with an infestation if it means the tenants home isn’t safe for them to live in i.e. if there is the potential an infestation will have an effect on physical or mental health.
You may be responsible for dealing with an infestation if:
- You are keeping your rental property in an unsanitary condition which is allowing pests to flourish, for example, leaving food waste or litter around.
- You have caused wilful or accidental damage to the fabric of your home allowing pests access to the property.
- If the pets or animals you keep have caused the issue i.e. cats and fleas. In this case it will be your responsibility to deal with the pests.
LOCAL AUTHORITY TENANTS
The local authority has legal powers to help with an infestation in your home. For example, where an infestation has the potential to be harmful to your health or is a nuisance, then it may be classed as a statutory nuisance. If the issue’s deemed a statutory nuisance, the local authority may be able to force a landlord to resolve the issue.
Generally speaking, local authority tenants should contact their landlord to report a pest problem and the local authority may offer their own pest control service. However, please be aware that councils are cutting back on their pest control services and you may find the service is either not available or the waiting times are weeks rather than days. In addition, the Council has no statutory obligation to provide pest control treatments to tenants of private landlords, Housing Associations and RSLs regardless of whether they receive Council Tax Benefit or Housing Benefits.
If you have a problem with rats or mice that are coming from someone else’s property, then the local authority has powers to help ensure pest control measures are being carried out. In fact, the local authority has specific legal powers to ensure that its specific local government area is kept free from rats and mice. In practical terms this means they are obliged to control rodents on their own land and may also serve a notice on an owner or an occupier under their jurisdiction that fails to do the same.
If the infestation is a risk to your health or safety, it may be classed a hazard under the Housing Health and Safety Rating System. Local authorities have certain responsibilities towards, and powers to deal with properties that present certain hazards. Please follow the link below to obtain in-depth guidance on this subject.
If you are unsure whose responsibility a pest issue is please pick up the phone and give us a call.
We’ll help you identify the pest, the cause, the implications and the responsibility.
We understand the needs of both LANDLORDS and TENANTS and we’ll work hard to gain the resolution you require.
Office – 0113 2037427 or 01423 209030
24/7 – 07970 902 194