WHO IS RESPONSIBLE FOR PEST CONTROL?
LANDLORD VS TENANT.
It may actually vary depending on the type of tenancy agreement you have, if the landlord is a private person or a housing association.
Generally, pest control should never get to the stage where it becomes grounds for termination of a tenancy contract, or for claim of refund/compensation. Things happen, and they need to be dealt with promptly and appropriately. However, the potential distress caused to tenants should not be factored in when considering who is responsible for the bill.
Landlord responsibilities for pest control
It can be confusing for landlords as to what their obligations are. Many will know that before renting out a property, they must ensure that the premises complies with the Housing & Maintenance and Health & Safety Standards. And this includes providing an environment that is free of pests and clean.
It is also clear that the landlord remains responsible of the maintenance of the property during the tenancy (regular wear and tear only). But it is not so obvious for Pest Control. Normally if a tenant would just come in a property with any kind of pest problem, the tenant would not be held responsible even though the contract mentions that the tenants are responsible for the pest control.
Landlord and tenant responsibilities for pest control
But if the pest problem is noticed by the tenants well within the tenancy agreement period, the landlord may argue that the tenants are responsible for triggering the pest infestation. As for any dispute, one of the two parties must have enough ground to support their claim.
- Rat infestations are systemic and often the responsibility of the council that may provide a free of charge rat service. If the rat problem is within the living space of the property, I would advise the landlord to implement the rodent pest exclusion work needed to prevent the problem from arising again.
- Mice pest infestations are often the result of a systemic problem and therefore should be paid for by the landlord. However the landlord may claim the tenants are responsible if the tenants fail to implement the advice of the Pest Control Company, or that their behaviour may have contributed to the mice infestation (cluttered, unkempt tenancy).
- Bed Bug infestations are difficult because it can go unnoticed or unreported for many months. If the tenants complain 6 months after they moved in, the landlord may suggest that the tenants brought the bed bug infestation in. However it would be impossible to prove beyond any reasonable doubt. Therefore I would always advise landlords to pay for the treatment, the alternative would be just impossible to manage. If the tenants leave the residential unit, the landlord may not be able to rent it out until a course of treatment has been completed, that may result in a bigger loss of income than the cost of the treatment initially. Furthermore the landlord may not even be in a position to put a claim against the deposit. However the landlord would have stronger ground in case the tenants have been living in the property for years, therefore it would be no doubt that the bed bugs have been brought in by the tenants.
- Cockroach infestations may originate from a systemic problem, or from a neighbour that is infested. It is also possible that the tenant at anytime could have brought in some cockroaches with the shopping or any other contaminated item.The landlord may claim the tenants are responsible if the tenants failed to report the problem at an early stage of the infestation or if the behaviour of the tenants contributed to the cockroach infestation (using residential premises for a catering business without any Pest Control measures being in place).
Finally, what is a landlord responsible for?
In short, it comes down to an argument that may end up in litigation if not resolved. In doubt, the landlord and the tenant should look for independent advice from the council’s tenancy relations officer, the Environmental Health department, a law centre, Citizens Advice Bureau, Housing Advice Centre or a solicitor.
Issues here are clearly not straight forward for either the tenant or the landlord. But Bradwell Maintenance can make sure dealing with the pests is straight forward. Using Bradwell Maintenance can help you, help your landlords and tenants in what is undoubtedly a grey area. Stand out from the crowd in the competitive lettings market with first class maintenance support from Bradwell Maintenance.
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