Who is responsible for dealing with pests and vermin?

RatIt’s not something you may want to think about but vermin do exist in some rented properties and tenants get very upset about it.

For example, this can include:

  • mice
  • rats
  • insects – such as cockroaches, fleas
  • Bedbugs
  • Wasps nests

And so on.

Most tenants assume that this is down to the landlord to deal with, and often it is, but what are the rules?

Basically, they are as follows:

If the vermin are there at the start of the tenancy

Here it will always be down to the landlord to deal with it.  Even if the vermin were introduced by a previous tenant. 

After all, it is not the existing tenant’s fault if previous tenants introduced (for example) bed bugs.  It is part of the landlord’s job to ensure that the property is fit at the time it is rented out.

Sometimes it may be some time before an infestation will become apparent – but if they were there at the start of the tenancy, it is the landlord’s responsibility to deal with it.

If the vermin occur after the tenants have been in the property for a while

In this case, it will depend on the reason they are there.  So for example:

  • If rats get in because there are holes in the external walls or
  • Insects are attracted to damp because of a leak in the pipes

Then, provided the holey walls and leaky pipes were not caused by the tenants, it will in most cases, be down to you, the landlord to carry out repairs and deal with the infestation.

However

  • If there are flies and maggots because tenants never clean the property and it is filthy, or
  • Rats are attracted because tenants leave food lying around and do not deal with the rubbish properly

Then the infestation will almost certainly be down to the tenants and they are the ones responsible.

In this case, you as the landlord should arrange for the problem to be dealt with but if you can show that the infestation occurred due to the tenant’s behaviour you can require them to pay for the costs of dealing with it.

What if no-one is at fault?

Landlords now have an obligation to ensure that properties are ‘fit for habitation’ during the tenancy so the cost will probably be down to the landlord.

Whats your opinion? Got any questions?
Discuss it in the forum