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View Full Version : Ending a tenancy early due to rat issue and landlord refusing to do anything



goldenbutton
22-12-2011, 16:05 PM
Hello,

I appreciate that everyone is busy getting ready for christmas, but if anyone could spare some advice I would be really grateful.


I have a assured shorthold tenancy that runs out in June 2012.

I have been a tenant at this property for 4 years.

3 months ago we discovered that rats were living in the attic and inbetween the walls of the house. I quickly rang the agent who informed me it was the tenants responsibility to get rid of the pests even though I had not caused the problem. I didnt think too much about it at this time and we put our own poison down and thought it would work. After a couple of days it went quiet and we assumed the problem was gone. After a few weeks the noises started again even more vicious than the last time. It was really turning our life in the house upside down, I have 2 small children aged 2 and 3, who were and are being constantly disturbed in the night by the rats noises, and as I cant really explain to kids so young that the noises cant hurt them they are truly disturbed at night. There health has also been alot worse than usual since it all started but this could be coincidence. I am also petrified of the things and makes me ill the thought of the diseases and them getting into the living space, god forbid.

I contacted the agent again who again reiterated it was my problem and responsibility to sort it. After much research I have alot of sources including a report from the home office that states that I am not liable for these costs and it is the landlord. I also went to citizens advice and they confirmed this. I provided all this info to the agency and after ignoring me for a while I got the reply that it is my responsibility as it goes on the length of the tenacy and as I have been there 4 years it is my home and my problem. Even though I need written permission to paint etc, so it isnt my home at all. They also said that the landlord knew his rights and refused to pay for the pest services.

I got in a local pest company straight away (enviromental health had a waiting list) to sort the problem. This has just cost ME £120.00. He advised me that the landlord should instruct someone to come out to the property to find out were they are coming from and fix the issue as he felt they had easy access. I contacted the agency again who got back to me and said that the landlord had point blank refused to send anybody out to the house. After much discussion with them about the rats keep coming back if the access is not sealed off we got no further forward with them at all. We then contacted the landlord direct to put the situation to him. He just said that he knew the property was structurally sound and all the time his uncle lived there he never had rats so it must be us!!! FUMING. The pest control officer documented on the report it was not down to our living standards!

The problem returned within a week after the pest control came out and I refuse to pay anymore. I have took the action to protect my families health and well being to find another property which we will be moving into in January. The agency have informed me that I am liable to pay the rest of the rent until the end of the tenancy or until new tenants are found plus a £150 advertising fee. After brief advice and research I believe that the landlord has breached sections of the landlord and tenants act and also section 82 of the enviromental protection act that states that pests in a building constitutes as a stautory nuisance and should be resolved by the owner - which he hasnt and wont do.

Since the pest control guy has been out the rats have come back in the walls

I am handing in my ones months notice tomorrow including a letter stating everything that has gone on and how no action has been taken by the landlord. I am going to suggest that he surrenders the tenancy as he left me with no choice but to find another house. I will also offer for him to keep the deposit, hopefully use this as a bargaining tool.

I am going to seek legal advice in the new year but if anyone has any info on -

If I can deduct the cost of the pest control out of my next rent installment legally?

If you think I have a case to stop me having to pay for the rest of the tenancy and advertising fee due to the landlords unreasonable behaviour?

Any info would be gratefully received.
Thanks in advance

jta
22-12-2011, 16:09 PM
Why did you not call back the pest control company to come and do the job properly? They obviously didn't in the first visit.


fix the issue as he felt they had easy access.

and they knew it too.

goldenbutton
22-12-2011, 16:21 PM
Hiya,

The pest people came over 3 visits and put the bait in the attic. On the second visit they confirmed that some poison had been eaten and replaced that. By the third visit we could still hear them and the pest people advised that no more posion had been eaten and some of the rodents may just be living in the walls and not going into the attic. I am no expert on the matter.

jta
22-12-2011, 16:27 PM
They obviously did not block the access for the rats, that is essential in stopping the infestation.

goldenbutton
22-12-2011, 16:34 PM
They did not find the access area as they said that the landlord should instruct someone to come out and do that as the building is not my responsibility. the landlord is refusing to do this.

mariner
22-12-2011, 18:15 PM
PC cowboys. Anyone worth their fee would search for ingress point and temp block it.
IMO it is T's resp to clear pests and LLs resp to identify/prevent/repair any ingress point due to breach in structure.
If any infestation was due to structural breach I would expect LL to pay for pest control callout.
OP did not get his moneysworth from PC

Bel
24-12-2011, 14:46 PM
PC cowboys. Anyone worth their fee would search for ingress point and temp block it.
IMO it is T's resp to clear pests and LLs resp to identify/prevent/repair any ingress point due to breach in structure.
If any infestation was due to structural breach I would expect LL to pay for pest control callout.
OP did not get his moneysworth from PC

I agree with the above.


Remove any rubbish or shrubs that are close to the building so that the critters are not able to hide under cover. Look for broken air vents (such as air bricks)also where pipes come out through the walls.

Its worth stuffing the suspect hole with plastic bags to see if they are removed; proof that its actively used.

Best to wait until mid day before blocking any hole; you don't want to block rats in permanently before they have left.

westminster
24-12-2011, 18:05 PM
I have a assured shorthold tenancy that runs out in June 2012.

I have been a tenant at this property for 4 years.

3 months ago we discovered that rats were living in the attic and inbetween the walls of the house. I quickly rang the agent who informed me it was the tenants responsibility to get rid of the pests even though I had not caused the problem.

Is there any structural disrepair which is causing the rats to gain access? If the infestation is due to structural disrepair, then it's the LL's responsibility to remedy the disrepair under s.11 Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 (though it's less clear cut as to whether LL will also be liable for the cost of pest control treatments, and will depend on the particular circumstances).

Have you contacted the local council's pest control, because my local council will deal with rat infestations for free (but see below)? Even if it's not free, it may be cheaper than a private contractor.

You might also contact the Environmental Health Officer at the local council. (If the rats comprise a 'statutory nuisance' and they think the LL is the responsible party, then it's the council who would take action and serve notice - and most likely the EHO department. The EHO also enforces disrepair under s.11 LTA1985).

You say you intend to 'give notice' expiring before the end of the fixed term. This will only have effect if there is a break clause in the contract (if there is one, please quote the wording), otherwise, all you can do is offer to surrender the tenancy early. LL is free to accept or refuse.

[Having had rats in the walls at my own home (a 2nd floor flat), I do appreciate how horrible and frightening it is hearing them at night. I contacted the council's pest control, and when they came round I had to insist the noises were far too loud to be mice, and explain to them that the rats had to be accessing the building from the ground floor, so it was the back garden of the ground floor flat they needed to look at. Nothing to *see* in my flat. Anyway, it's been several months since the noises stopped so I think they must have done as I suggested...]

mariner
25-12-2011, 00:15 AM
"....as the building is not my responsibility."

Not quite true IMO. Appeal Court (Denning)held that T has 'duty to act in a tenant=like manner' towards LLs property. IMV this means not allowing minor problems to worsen due to inaction.T is not resp for buildings insurance nor structural repairs but if a water pipe burst T should have the sense to turn off the water at the main stoptap. Same for temp blocking of any poss ingress.
T is naturally concerned about rodents in the wall cavity for his famiy's health. Also rodents can chew live electric cables, risking a fire thus both T and LLs property are put at risk.
Methinks the Council pest control service (if avail) or EHO inspection would have been more thorough in identifying access site.

I would like to see all Ts liable for initial 30min callout for minor problems. If fault & repair is LLs resp, initial callout cost would be repaid to T via credit to rent.

rajeshk4u
26-12-2011, 15:39 PM
Ring the local authority. I have been if the problem is with mice it is payable, but with 'rats' they will offer deal for free. Each local authority has a different policy.

I was also, told to block any holes with wire wool and expanding foam (though not a fan of this substance as it is messy).