Landlord or tenants responsibility to get rid of bedbugs and pests
Properties infested with pests such as mice, rats, insects, cockroaches, fleas, and bedbug are risks to occupants and public health in general.
The Council will advise as to the steps you can take to eradicate pests, including bed bugs.
A private landlord or tenant can seek advice about any pest issue from the local council environmental officer or a pest control company.
Many local and national independent pest control service companies provide expert pest and bedbugs advice.
A pest issue or vermin issue may need to be treated more than one time to eradicate the problem.
There are various pest control treatments used to take care of pest.
Infestations of pest can spread diseases, cause damage, and cause certain health conditions, including asthma, eczema, and other allergies. Mental health may also be affected.
Research published by Shelter in October 2015 estimated that nearly half a million private rented homes in England had problems with animal infestation.
The question of who is responsible for dealing with infestations in privately rented housing depends in part on:
- whether there are any relevant clauses in the tenancy agreement.
- whether the property was already pest or vermin-infested when the tenant moved in or was caused by a structural defect or disrepair; or
- whether the infestation may have resulted from some act or omission of the tenant.
It can be challenging to find how an infestation has occurred and, in turn, if the landlord or tenant is responsible for fixing it.
The problem poses a broader risk to public health; local authorities may be responsible for taking action.
Authorities have various powers at their disposal, including the Prevention of Damage by Pests Act 1949, the Public Health Act 1936, and the Environmental Protection Act 1990.
Local authority powers and duties under the Housing, Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS, introduced by the Housing Act 2004 and related regulations) may also be relevant.
It is rare for an infestation to trigger local authority action under the HHSRS.
Mental health may also be affected. The Chartered Institute of Environmental Health produced a guide in 2010. Which estimated that almost half a million private rented homes one in nine in England had problems with animal infestation.
Where the vermin problem poses a broader risk, local authorities may have a responsibility to take action.
They could request the owners or occupiers to deal with the problem. Alternatively, they could deal with it themselves, in which case they may look to recover their costs.
It may not always be clear where responsibility for tackling an infestation lies. In some instances, legal advice may be needed.
Bedbug infestation, landlord, tenant and responsibility
bedbug infestation requires specific treatment this can include items like furniture, bed frames, mattresses, carpet and rugs. The bedbug infestation treatment varies from different contractors.
A bedbug infestation can lead to the victim feeling a bite on the furnace of their skin. Bedbug bites can irritate and at times be painful. Unlike spiders, you cannot easily see the bedbug infestation.
The poor condition of a bed mattress is usually not the cause of the outbreak of bedbug bites.
If the tenant has been living at the property for a month or more and there is an outbreak of bedbug infestation then it is likely the tenant is responsible. If the tenant has just moved in and is experiencing bedbug bites then the problem probably pre-existed and the not the responsibility of the new tenant.
The bedbug and pest problem is one of many reasons landlords do not like to let a property fully furnished. The furniture especially bed mattresses can cause a pest and fire compliance problem.
What does the tenancy agreement say about common pests?
The tenancy agreement may include a specific clause or a step that sets out responsible for dealing with pest infestation.
When did the property become infested?
Suppose the property is already infested when the tenant moves in. In that case, the landlord will be responsible for dealing with it. However, much will depend on the specific circumstances.
Regarding furnished properties, landlords must ensure that at the start of the tenancy nothing renders it uninhabitable. This could include vermin infestation or bedbugs.
If the property has become infested during a tenancy. In that case, the question of who is liable for dealing with it will depend on how the infestation occurred.
Was the infestation caused by disrepair?
Infestations may be the result of or worse by structural defects or disrepair, such as holes in external walls of the let property.
Unless the disrepair has been caused by the tenant, it will usually fall to the landlord to carry out the repair and deal with the infestation.
Landlords are responsible for keeping in repair and good working order the installations in the dwelling.
These include the supply of water, heating, and sanitation. Landlords’ repairing obligations are only invoked once they have been made aware of the problem.
When can a landlord be responsible for pest control?
In most cases, the landlords are responsible for dealing with pest control. This is because of something called the ‘warranty of habitability.
Almost every rental tenancy will include a clause that explicitly says a landlord must keep a property safe and habitable for tenants.
If a tenant is faced with vermin or bedbugs daily, their home will soon feel uninhabitable. This could contravene the contract they signed.
When can a tenant be responsible for pest control?
If it can be proved that the pests are in the building due to the tenant’s actions, then the responsibility to deal with the infestation will fall on the tenant.
This is because properties are kept in filthy conditions, such as food left out to decompose. Similarly, suppose the tenant keeps pets and brings in fleas. In that case, it will also be the tenant’s responsibility to deal with the pest or bug issue.
What if we can’t decide who is responsible for the pest infestation?
Sometimes it might be difficult to tell why the pests have arrived. Therefore, it is impossible to apportion liability. In such cases, it may legally fall to the tenant to deal with the problem.
However, it is the landlord’s interests to keep a good relationship with their tenants. So, it is worthwhile for a landlord to deal with the problem even if they are not legally obliged to do so.
A good tenant is a vital asset for any landlord, anything that can be done to keep them on should be considered.
What if a landlord refuses to deal with pests?
Suppose the landlord does not deal with their legal or contractual obligations. In such cases, the tenant can request the Council to take enforcement action against the landlord. UK
Councils can serve an enforcement notice on a landlord who refuses to deal with pest infestations. If the Council must arrange pest control services. The landlord may be liable to pay the costs. The landlord must pay any administration costs as well.