A pest infestation refers to unwanted animals and insects in your property. Examples of common pests include mice, rats, squirrels, bats, bees, wasps, ants, cockroaches and bedbugs.
Pest problems can cause significant issues, pests can cause lots of damage to a rented property that could make it unsafe to live in. As well as this, pests can also pose a serious risk to the health and safety of tenants so it is important that infestations are dealt with quickly.
However, one of the main issues when it comes to pest issues in a rented property is deciding who is responsible for the issue. It can be difficult to determine who is responsible for pest control because responsibility depends on what has caused the pest problems and there can be many reasons for this.
Your landlord is responsible for making sure that your home is fit to live in, this means that it must be in a good state of repair and free from pests. Pest control could be your landlord’s responsibility if your tenancy agreement states that they are responsible, if the pest infestation is making your home unsafe to live in or if pests are getting into your home because of a repair issue that the landlord has not dealt with.
There are several types of repair issues that can lead to pest infestations, a few of these include:
Your landlord is legally obligated to make sure that your home is fit for human habitation. If a pest problem is making affecting your health or preventing you from being able to use your home then your landlord will be responsible for fixing the issue.
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Pests infestations can also be caused by tenants in many ways. As a tenant you are expected to act in a “tenant like manner”, this means that you are expected to look after the property to a certain degree by keeping it clean and tidy, using fixtures and furnishings properly and carrying out minor maintenance in some cases.
If a pest infestation has occurred because you have not acted in a tenant like manner then you could be responsible for arranging and paying for a pest control service. Some examples of behaviour that could make you responsible for a pest problem include:
Whilst landlords are usually responsible for pest infestations caused by repair issues like holes in walls or broken windows, the tenant will be responsible if they have caused the damage themselves.
If you are responsible for the infestation, you should contact a pest control company or the local council to arrange for the pest control treatment.
If you live in social housing and the local council is your landlord then just like private landlords, they will be responsible for pest control if the problem has occurred because of a repair issue or if it is causing a risk to your health or safety.
Local councils do not have a legal obligation to provide pest control treatments to tenants of private landlords or housing associations, even if they are receiving housing benefits or council tax benefit.
Some local authorities do offer their own pest control services, although there will still usually be a charge for these services. If your landlord is responsible for the infestation, they will be liable for the costs. Your landlord can choose whether to use the council’s services if they provide them or to hire their own pest control contractor.
Your local authority does also have the power to take action in relation to pest infestations if your landlord fails to do so.
If you are facing a pest problem in your home the first thing that you should do is to notify your landlord of the infestation. It is the tenant’s responsibility to notify a landlord about repair issues so if you do not report the problem to them, they cannot be liable for the repairs. You should also inform your landlord about any infestations in communal areas of your property, your landlord will usually be responsible for these areas too depending on what your tenancy agreement says.
If your landlord refuses to deal with the infestation and repair issues then there are steps that you can take to tackle your unresolved pest problem.
You can report a pest infestation to your local authority if your landlord fails to resolve the issue. The council may arrange for an inspection of the property by the Environmental Health Department. During a thorough inspection, an Environmental Health Officer will be able to determine why the pest infestation has occurred and who is responsible.
If the responsibility is found to lie with the landlord, then the council can take action against them. They could serve an enforcement notice ordering your landlord to make repairs or deal with pests. The council may also take enforcement action and arrange for pest control services themselves, in this case, they will charge the landlord for these services.
If your rented council home or housing association property has issues that have not been repaired find out if you are eligible to make a housing disrepair claim for property repair and compensation.
Whether tenants are responsible for dealing with pests depends on why the infestation has happened. If you have a rat problem, mice infestation or other pest issue in your home that has happened because of a repair issue then it is usually your landlord’s responsibility to deal with it. Your landlord will also be responsible if the pests are a health hazard.
It is a tenant’s duty to maintain sanitary conditions in the rental property, if an infestation has happened because a tenant has failed to do this, or has happened because of entry points due to damage that they have caused, then they will be responsible for dealing with the problem.
Just like private landlords, a housing association is also responsible for ensuring that their properties are kept in a habitable state. They should ensure that adequate pest-proofing has been applied to the property and if rodent infestations have happened because they haven’t done this, or is a result of another type of repair issue then they will be responsible for getting pest control.
If your landlord is deemed as fully responsible for the pest infestation then they are responsible for paying for pest control services and they cannot pass this cost onto you, no matter what your tenancy agreement says. If you are found to be responsible for the infestation then you will need to pay for the pest control service yourself.