Depending on the circumstances, the following are generally responsible for pest control when renting:
3… Local councils.
4… Housing associations.
Pest control responsibility when renting private or commercial premises in the UK is unclear. A pest problem can occur in a property in hundreds of ways, which makes it very difficult to say whose responsibility it is to tackle the problem.
With several possible scenarios to consider, the following guidelines will help determine who is responsible for pest control when renting and what action needs to be taken.
When is a Landlord Responsible for Pest Control?
According to the Director of Operations at the National Landlords Association, Richard Price:
“It is the responsibility of landlords to keep a property free from pests as far as possible. Measures should be taken to prevent attracting pests and giving them easy access to the premises. Under the Prevention of Damage by Pests Act 1949, landlords could be served with a statutory notice to eradicate a pest problem if an infestation affects tenants or neighbours.”
If you’re a landlord, this means it is your responsibility to guarantee living conditions that comply with local authority health and safety guidelines, prior to a tenant occupying the property.
If repair work carried out on property is of a poor standard, causing or making a pest infestation worse, you could face having to pay costs if your local authority ends up tackling the problem.
Responsibility for pest proofing a property belongs to landlords, housing associations and registered social landlords (RSLs), who are required to specify – in a signed contractual agreement – that regular pest treatments will be carried out, particularly if a property is located in a highly populated area known for seasonal, returning pests.
If a landlord fails to take action to treat a pest problem on their property, local authorities have the power to serve an enforcement notice with a deadline by which a pest infestation must be eradicated.
Should a landlord refuse to comply with an enforcement notice, and the council has to arrange pest extermination, the landlord will legally be forced to cover the cost of treatment, plus any local authority administration costs.
As well as ensuring that a property meets healthy living standards for a tenant, private landlords are also responsible for public health.
If a pest problem at a landlord’s property puts the health or premises of neighbours at risk, landlords could be liable. Vermin not only spread disease, they could cause damage to a neighbour’s property or belongings.
If a pest problem is caused by a tenant’s lifestyle, for example unemptied bins attracting rats, in the first instance it is the responsibility of the landlord to speak to the tenant to deal with the problem.
When is a Tenant Responsible for Pest Control?
If a pest infestation occurs as a result of tenant negligence or poor lifestyle, the tenant is solely responsible for getting a pest problem sorted. A tenant is generally responsible for dealing with a pest problem if:
1… They fail to notify their landlord of a pest problem, delay pest treatments organised by the landlord as per the terms of a tenancy agreement or fail to make arrangements for pest extermination and proofing of a rental property on time.
In each of these scenarios, pest problems could spread, endangering other residents and causing structural damage to the rented property, for which the tenant could be liable.
2… They attract vermin in or around a property due to negligent behaviour, such as improper disposal of waste. Incidents of negligence will be investigated by a Health Officer and if a tenant is liable, they will need to arrange pest control.
3… It’s part of a tenancy agreement. If a landlord specifies that a tenant is solely responsible for pest control in a tenancy agreement, and a tenant agrees to those terms, pest control when renting is the responsibility of the tenant contractually.
Check Your Tenancy Agreement
If you’re thinking of renting a property, make sure you check your tenancy agreement to find out if it’s your responsibility to call on the services of a pest control company, if an infestation breaks out.
Should a tenancy agreement not contain details of who is responsible for pest control when renting, it needs to be determined if the pest problem occurred before or after the lease started.
This is hard to do, as some pest problems only become apparent as they develop. However, when a pest infestation does become apparent, it’s the duty of the tenant to report it to the landlord. It is recommended that you send photos or a video to your landlord as evidence.
If you’re a tenant and your landlord fails to act on a pest problem you have reported, you can contact your local authority who will arrange a visit from an environmental health officer.
They will investigate the problem to determine who is responsible for dealing with it. If it’s the landlord, the council can issue an enforcement notice to force them to deal with an infestation of pests.
Pest Problems Caused by Disrepair
Poorly maintained properties is one of the main causes of rodent infestations such as rats, mice and squirrels. Unless otherwise stated in a lease agreement, landlords are responsible for pest problems caused by repair work negligence, prior to a tenant moving in.
If you’re a potential tenant for a property, make sure you check the premises to ensure that it is has been maintained to a high standard, before you sign any agreement.
Property handed over to a tenant in a high standard, following the signing of an agreement, means the tenant becomes responsible for the condition of the property from then on.
If repair is needed during the duration of the tenancy as a result of pest damage, it is the responsibility of the tenant to report repairs needed to the landlord as soon as possible.
Should a tenant fail to report pest damage as soon as it arises, the tenant could be responsible for dealing with the problem.
Isn’t the Local Council Responsible for Pest Control?
Not if you’re living in private rented accommodation. If you live in a council owned property, your tenancy agreement will stipulate their pest control duties…
Unresolved Pest Problems
However… tenants of private landlords, housing associations or RSLs can report an unresolved pest problem to their local council. You can do this if your landlord refuses to deal with a pest infestation on their property.
In the first instance, it is recommended that you try and resolve the problem with your landlord, before getting the council involved.
If your landlord refuses to budge, your local authority is duty-bound to investigate the cause of pest problems, if you have lawfully notified your landlord of the issue.
Should your case meet the council’s requirements, it has the power to issue an enforcement notice to your landlord to deal with the problem. However, beware, if pest control is the tenant’s responsibility, the council can serve the tenant with an enforcement notice.
Local authorities will always work with both sides to try and get a pest problem sorted. However, an investigation will determine who is responsible and they will be forced to deal with the problem.
When is a Housing Association Responsible for Pest Control?
Due to the different types of accommodation operated by housing associations, including flats and apartments where there is a mix of property and communal areas, it is often unclear who is responsible for pest control.
According to most local council guidelines, housing associations tend to be responsible for pest control in the communal areas of multi-dwelling properties such as stairways and boiler rooms.
If a pest problem occurs as a result of poor repairs or repair negligence in these areas, again, the housing association is responsible. However, if pests affect tenants as a result of a problem occurring in a communal area, the housing association is responsible for dealing with the issue…
… Otherwise, tenants are generally responsible for pest infestations in their own flat or apartment, especially if the problem occurs as a result of tenant negligence.
Nevertheless, if a pest problem occurs in housing association run accommodation, it should be reported to housing authority officials to find out who is responsible for pest control.
Pest Control When Renting – Are There Other Options?
Whether you’re a landlord or tenant, if no one is taking responsibility, it means a pest problem will get worse before it gets better.
It’s best to sort the problem and deal with who’s responsible afterwards. This leaves you with two options:
1… You can attempt to treat the problem yourself – not recommended.
2… You can call in the professionals – highly recommended.
As the highly recommended option, Aim Environmental Services treats most pest problems on the same day, which means that as soon as you spot a pest infestation our highly qualified, professional, fast-acting technicians can treat the problem before it gets worse.
If you’re a landlord, we offer annual contracts starting from as a little as 45p per day, for peace of mind pest control all-year round. If pests infest, rest assured that you can call on professional help, immediately.
If you’re a tenant with a landlord refusing to tackle a pest problem, we’re the guys to call. Our rates are competitive when compared with local council fees, plus we can get to you, treat and eradicate the problem on the same day in most cases, something that council services cannot offer.