The issue of who is responsible for pest control is an important one. Pest problems can happen to anyone at any time, especially in big cities like London. If you find yourself with uninvited visitors to your rented property, you’ll want to know what you need to sort yourself and what your landlord should be covering. Fortunately, we have the answer for you. Read on as we discuss if and when landlords are responsible for pest control.
Under the Housing, Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS) legislation, landlords are contractually obliged to ensure that their rental accommodation is fit for human habitation. If a pest problem arises as a result of the landlords’ actions (or inactions), they’re responsible for dealing with and paying for the required pest control services.
When landlords are responsible
For example, blocking gaps in floorboards and walls which may be access points for rodents is one way for landlords to protect against pests entering a property. Another way is to regularly perform checks on pipework and plumbing, which may become entry points for rats or hotspots for cockroaches. Failing to perform these checks will result in a landlord being held responsible for pest control services that are required as a result.
Additionally, if a pest problem is present when tenants first move in, or a problem arises very soon after, then in most cases, the landlord is also responsible. The tenants can’t be held accountable for an infestation prior to their tenancy.
When tenants are responsible
Likewise, when a pest problem is caused directly by the actions or inactions of tenants, they’re responsible for pest control. Tenants can be directly responsible for a pest infestation in a number of ways. For instance, they may leave uncovered food lying around or may not clean for long periods at a time. This will attract a whole host of rodents and unwanted bugs. In these cases it would be the responsibility of the tenants to seek a pest control solution.
Similarly, if tenants have pets that develop fleas or mites, and these fleas spread to the property, the tenants are also responsible. They must arrange cleaning for both the accommodation and, by extension, their pet, so as to solve the problem at its source.
Consider this example. Tenants over-pack a wardrobe in an unused room of the house, which is dark and poorly ventilated due to being unused. Eventually, a moth problem develops, and it’s as a direct result of the tenants’ actions rather than how the landlord provided the room – the problem is clearly the fault of the tenants.
If, however, the tenants were then to clean up the room, empty out some of the clutter and ventilate it well, it could be argued that they have done enough to mitigate the problem. In this case, responsibility would then shift to the landlord. The tenant would then be in a position to ask for the landlord’s assistance (both practical and financial) in dealing with the moth problem.
Actions to take
When do landlords pay for pest control?
If responsibility is found to sit with the landlord, they need to take action straight away. The landlord will be responsible for removing the pests from the premises and blocking any entry points. The best way to do this is to call a pest control expert. They’ll safely and effectively deal with the problem and, in most cases, will include a proofing service which will keep the property pest-free for years to come – which is the ideal outcome for all.
The landlord is also required to repair any damage caused as a result of the pest problem, such as bite marks to cupboards or chewed-through cables (mice have a tendency to do this).
Regardless of whether the tenants are responsible for the pest problem, their first step should be to inform their landlord. In many cases, the landlord may take it upon themselves to call a pest controller. In other cases, the tenants will arrange a pest control appointment themselves if they’re directly responsible.
In unfortunate scenarios when a landlord is responsible for the pest problem (e.g. through negligence) and has been informed by their tenants but still refuses to act accordingly (i.e. refuses to call a professional), tenants should contact the environmental services of their local council. Most of the time, the council will arrange an inspection and offer advice. If the landlord still refuses to get involved, then the council may take it upon themselves to perform pest control and charge the landlord for their time.
Overall, we’ve found that it’s mutually beneficial for tenants and landlords to work together when it comes to pest control. It’s in everyone’s best interest to ensure that the property is in a state where pests are unlikely to be a problem by keeping it cleaning and regularly maintaining fixtures and fittings. Similarly, calling a pest control company promptly is the most effective way to deal with pests whilst harbouring trust between tenants and their landlord. They may even be able to offer advice on who’s liable for the problem.
Trusted pest control companies in London:
Here at James Anderson, we have almost 30 years’ experience helping people to find the home of their dreams. We also offer property management services, which cover anything from building maintenance to property inspections and enforcing landlord safety obligations. If you’d like to find out more then get in touch with us today. We’d love to help!