Who is responsible for dealing with the infestation?
The question of who is responsible for dealing with the infestation and for paying for eradication depends on all the circumstances involved, including:
- whether there is anything relevant in the tenancy agreement
- whether the property was already infested before the tenant moved in, or
- whether the infestation may have resulted from some act or omission of the tenant.
When is the landlord responsible for dealing with the infestation?
The landlord may be responsible for dealing with the infestation if, for example, it was caused by some structural defect or disrepair, such as holes in external walls (unless these were caused by the tenant).
The landlord would also have to deal with any necessary repairs.
Unless a tenancy has a fixed term of more than seven years under Section 11 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 landlords are responsible for keeping in repair the structure and exterior of the property and for keeping keep in repair and good working order the installations in the dwelling for the supply of water, heating, and sanitation.
In regard to furnished properties, landlords have a contractual duty (implied by common law) to ensure that at the start of the letting there is “nothing so noxious [about the property] as to render it uninhabitable” – this could include vermin infestation.
The Prevention of Damage by Pests Act 1949 places a council under a duty to ensure, as far as is practicable, that a district is kept free from rats and mice and in particular… to enforce the duties under the Act of owners and occupiers.
If an owner or occupier fails to take steps to get rid of an infestation within the time specified by the council, the council may itself undertake the work and recover the expense incurred.
The Public Health Act 1936, sections 83 to 85, deal with premises which are filthy and verminous. Under section 83 of the Public Health Act 1936 councils are given the power to serve notice on the owner or occupier specifying the works required to eradicate the vermin and the conditions conducive to infestation. This work can be carried out in default.
The Environmental Protection Act 1990 provides a remedy to tackle poor living accommodation which amounts to a statutory nuisance, in other words “any premises in such a state as to be prejudicial to health or a nuisance.”
When is the tenant responsible for dealing with the infestation?
The tenant may be responsible for dealing with the problem if the infestation was caused by something the tenant has done or failed to do; for example, not dealing properly with rubbish or not cleaning the property adequately.
Re-letting a property?
Why not invite us to check a property before it is re-let? We can explain how pests could gain access to the property – helping you set maintenance priorities.
We can provide a pest control advice visit from £47. We’ll give you a written report of what we find and our professional advice.
Whoever you decide is responsible, we can offer a comprehensive range of services to help. Our charges are the same to landlords as they are for any other domestic property for the treatment of insect pests such as wasps, fleas or bedbugs. If your property is let as a family home we can offer rodent control at our standard domestic property rates. Our current charges (pdf, 291kb).
If you offer sheltered, hostel or HMO type accommodation our commercial rates apply for rodent control - currently £100 for our first hour of work and then £25 for each additional 1/4 hour of time taken. If you want a number of properties checking or treating please contact us and we'll quote.
Last updated 1 April 2019