Pests and vermin: who’s responsible for dealing with the problem?

Written on 3 August 2018 by Michael Bennett in Frequently Asked Questions


Who is responsible for pest control, the landlord or the tenant? As you might expect, the answer is not clear-cut. The landlord is responsible for making sure the rental property is safe, secure and habitable, and this includes making sure the property is maintained in such a way as to minimise the potential for pests (such as ants, rats, mice or cockroaches) to enter and occupy the property.

There are many ways pests and vermin can enter a property, but ultimately a landlord is responsible for making sure a property is well-maintained and habitable, and this responsibility should be stated in the tenancy agreement. However, it is important that tenants are aware of pests, how they can be attracted to a property, and make sure they don’t do anything which would make the property more vulnerable to pest infestation.

Pests and vermin can constitute a health hazard and can cause damage to a property, so it is in the interests of all concerned to eradicate pests from a rental property as soon as possible. However, a landlord is responsible for dealing with pests if:

  • An infestation was caused by a structural issue or flaw with the property, such as a hole in a wall or a gap in the roof.
  • Pests were already present in the property when the tenants moved in, or if there have been problems in the past with pests and measures taken to make the property more invulnerable to pests have proved inadequate.
  • It makes clear in the tenancy agreement that the landlord is responsible for making sure the property is habitable, or if it expressly states that the landlord will attend to any issues which may arise concerning pests and vermin.

A tenant might be liable to deal with a pest problem if it can be proved that their actions attracted pests to the property, such as if rubbish is left lying outside a property and isn’t put into bins properly.

If pests do enter and occupy a property, the tenant must notify the landlord (in writing) about the problem. If a pest problem was caused by flaws with the structure or exterior of the property, making it easier for pests to enter, then it is likely the landlord will be responsible.

If it is not clear who is responsible, an Environmental Health Officer should be able to identify how the pests managed to enter the property and what caused the issue.

Once responsibility has been established – and it is usually the landlord – the landlord must respond in a timely manner and take appropriate steps to deal with the issue. In some cases, if the landlord does not fulfil his or her duties, the tenant can apply to the Council who can take enforcement action against the landlord.

Our advice to landlords

Always make sure any properties you let are pest-proofed and fully habitable for tenants. Also make it clear in the tenancy agreement who is responsible for dealing with such issues, should they arise. It is in the interests of both tenant and landlord that any pest control problems are dealt with promptly and properly so that the property remains habitable for tenants and the relationship between landlord and tenant continues to be as agreeable and productive as possible.

Do you need advice and help with letting out your property in Belgravia, Chelsea, Mayfair, Knightsbridge, South Kensington, Westminster, Victoria or Pimlico? Contact our team today.

 

Michael Bennett

Michael has worked in the property industry for over 18 years, commencing his career with an Independent Estate Agency in Brompton Cross, South Kensington. His career experience covers the sale, rental and marketing of residential property and luxury homes. He has also worked independently as a Property Search Agent offering a bespoke buying solution to International ‘Private Clients’

All articles by Michael Bennett

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