New landlords have a plethora of issues to deal with when moving into, or buying a new home. Costs of moving, tenancy agreements, renovation and other miscellaneous concerns can make for a tiresome and stressful routine.
However, one thing most new landlords sometimes neglect to look into are pests. Whilst it may appear as if you don’t have any pests rummaging around your land, many could be hiding in plain sight. It’s better to ensure that your house is pest-free rather than to find out you’ve got a flea infestation or a giant rat’s nest on your hands in the future.
It is imperative for both landlords and tenants to be aware of the damage these pests can cause. This comprehensive guide should quell and frets or concerns you may have.
What are the main and most common pests that landlords should be aware of?
The most common pests found within Britain include mice, rats, bed bugs, fleas, ants and wasps. Foxes and pigeons are also a common disturbance though these don’t necessarily impact you in the way that the aforementioned pests can.
The most common pests are the ones that don’t make themselves immediately apparent. These are the ones that can cause your property serious harm. Imagine a situation where you have successfully let your property to new tenants, only to find out soon after that there is a flea or rat infestation. This will not only force you to hire pest control services, but can be also costly and several damage your status and reputation as a landlord.
Having run AMES Group for over 25 years, I’m accustomed to these sorts of problems, and fully empathise with the difficulties they can cause new landlords and tenants. There are many guides you can follow to ensure these pests stay well away from your property. Though, sometimes a guide is not enough and you may require professional services to ensure your property abides by health and safety regulations.
What are the responsibilities that govern landlords and tenants in regards to pests?
Landlords are expected to keep their properties as clean and as professionally kept as possible. This includes ensuring the property is clear of any apparent pests, this also means making sure the area will not easily attract pests in the future.
Whilst this may seem a tedious process for landlords looking to sell or let their property, they could face prosecution if the necessary precautions are not taken. The Prevention of Damage by Pests Act 1949 is still very much a relevant law in society and you will be expected to rid your property of any potential pest threats before resale or letting. Pest problems also fall under the umbrella of Public Health Laws, so if your property is arguably in a ‘verminous condition’ it is better to ensure your land is pest-free before encountering such problems in the future.
How can I avoid pests infiltrating my property?
Obvious things to avoid are leaving dirty dishes, food remains around your property along with improperly disposing of waste. Unfortunately, if the previous tenant allowed a pest infestation into the land, it is the responsibility of the landlord to ensure that the new tenants are welcomed into a pest-free home, i.e. it is the landlord’s responsibility to eradicate the pests. If pests appear after the new tenants have moved in, though it was clear that the pests had been living somewhere in the property for some time and it wasn’t the new tenant’s fault, then again, the landlord is responsible.
Steps to take in order to prevent pest infestations:
A cure will rid you of the pests, though a prevention will render the cure needless.
Curing pests does not necessarily guarantee they won’t come back. For example, setting rat traps might catch a few rats, though this will not stop more from coming back. Be sure to educate yourself on the most efficient ways to prevent pests bugging you in the first place by reading up on some in-depth pest prevention guides. Here is a quick, simple guide to follow:
- Exterior cracks, fissures and/or holes must be addressed. Wasp nests tend to use these places to build their colonies and they can fast become a serious problem in the warmer months.
- Your kitchen must be kept clean, this means anywhere you cook, store food and wash up must be kept in a hygienic condition to prevent pests from infiltrating your home.
- Ensure the layout of your property is easy to maintain, i.e. try to prevent the build-up of dirt or rubbish that could potentially attract pests and vermin.
- Sealing loose flooring, roof spaces and ensuring exterior ventilation is properly designed to not let pests in is also important. These can be easily infiltrated by many pests and these gaps make a very easy entrance route for them.
- Bin bags and waste must be properly locked away, far out of reach of pests
However, there are some insects/animals that don’t necessarily fall under the category of ‘pests’.
Tenants will be responsible to take appropriate action regarding certain discoveries.
Bees – Bees are protected species. Bee numbers are in drastic decline and have an extremely important role to play on our planet. If bees are disturbing you, it is up to you (the tenant) to dispose of them in the correct way, i.e. hiring a professional beekeeper.
Wasps – Far more hated, though still play a positive role on our planet. If a nest appears in the middle of a tenancy (5/6 months in for example) it is again, the tenant’s responsibility to remove the nest.
Mice – if this problem was not made immediately apparent before the tenant moved in, it is then down to the tenant to remove the mice. Food and debris could well be the cause of a mouse infestation, be sure to clean up after yourself!
Squirrels – not so much of a problem in the UK, though some people do find them annoying. They are known to chew through almost anything, electrical wiring being one of their favourites. It is illegal to kill squirrels during their mating season – which consequently is when you’ll be seeing them the most. Be sure to contact a pest control agency, they will instruct you further.
Bats – bats are protected. More often than not, they are harmless, though their droppings are best avoided…
This guide isn’t something you can run into a rat’s nest with. The aim is to ensure you are fully clued-up on your responsibilities as a landlord or tenant!