Household Pests: Who is responsible, the landlord or the tenant?

The problems surrounding the infestation of pests in a household can often cause disagreements between landlords and tenants, as both parties are typically unclear as to who is responsible for dealing with them. The Association on Independent Inventory Clerks have seen a rise in the number of tenants attempting to force pest problems on to their landlord. 

Par Barber, Chair of the Association explains: 

“Tenants have unrealistic expectations and don’t want to take responsibility for anything. They sometimes think that their landlord should pay for everything no matter what…” 

Below is a brief guide to some of the situations that the landlord is likely to find him or herself responsible for: 

– An infestation of wasps or fleas that was present before the beginning of the tenancy would be the responsibility of the landlord. They would need to arrange and cover the costs of any wasp nest removal, as well as the cost of fumigating carpets and upholstery. 

– If an infestation of rats at the property was found to be an ongoing problem then it is likely that the landlord will be responsible for covering the cost of regular treatment. 

Tenants on the other hand are likely to find themselves responsible in the following situations: 

  • If a wasp nest or mice infestation was not apparent before the beginning of the tenancy, the responsibility to cover costs of removal fall on the tenant. Tenants may wish to ensure that no food debris or rubbish is left lying around that may attract mice. 
  • Similarly, an infestation of ants is likely to be the responsibility of the tenant and they may wish to adopt a stricter cleaning regime as these pests are likely to return time and time again. 
  • An infestation of bees is different as they are a protected species and any swarm present in a property should only be removed by a professional bee keeper. It is likely that the tenant will find themselves responsible for the cost of the bee keeper. 
  • Like bees, bats are also a protected species. However, any nesting of bats cannot be touched and will have to remain in the property. Read our article on the subject here.

Arguably the trickiest pests to deal with are squirrels. It is illegal for anyone to trap and kill squirrels during their breeding season, so it would be wise to contact a pest control company who would advise on the best route forward – usually at the landlord’s expense.

BT/SRJ                                                                                                                                03/07/14

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