It’s often unclear what responsibilities fall to landlords and housing associations, and what falls to the tenant in rented housing. When it comes to pest and vermin control, you understandably want the problem sorted quickly, especially if the inside of the property is infested.
So, how can you determine who is responsible for getting rid of unwelcome friends? Well, your first port of call should be your tenancy agreement. This document should give you some indication about whose responsibility it is to deal with the pests.
Pest control policies
Your housing association pest control policy (if they have one in place) should make it clear who is responsible for getting rid of intruders such as rats, mice, cockroaches, fleas, ants, mites and bedbugs.
Usually if you live in a multi-dwelling property like a block of flats and the problem exists in a communal area like a bin store or a hallway, it is your landlord or housing association’s job to get rid of the problem. Similarly, if the problem is in your own flat or house, it is usually down to you to deal with it. Keep in mind that rules and regulations regarding pest control differ from one housing association to the next and are influenced by relevant local laws.
The policy might state that an Environmental Health officer needs to come in and identify the cause of the problem before blame can be placed. If the officer found that the infestation was a result of disrepair in a communal area, such as a hole connecting the outside and inside, then it would be the association’s job to resolve the issue. However, if you have a pile up of bin bags in your kitchen which is attracting ants or cockroaches, this would be your responsibility.
A council’s responsibility
When are pests like cockroaches and rat’s council responsibility?
If the infestation is found to be caused by an issue of disrepair on council land, it will be their responsibility to fix the problem. For example, if you live in a block of flats which is nearby to a council-owned waste disposal centre which has been poorly maintained, and rats are infesting communal areas in your block, this would be an issue for the council to sort out. Your local council will have a pest control service, which they will be able to instruct to deal with the problem if you live in council-owned housing.
If the infestation is harmful to your health, then it may be considered a statutory nuisance. If this is the case, then your local council may be able to force your landlord to fix the problem.
When an infestation of pests or vermin poses a threat to your health and safety, it could be considered a hazard under the Housing Health and Safety Rating System. Your council has duties and powers to take action if this is the case.
What you can do?
Make sure that you report the problem as soon as you notice it so that it can be resolved as soon as possible. Try and keep the inside of your property as clean as you can, and if the problem is coming from outside keep windows and doors closed when you can.
You can buy repellents and traps if you feel like this will help, but don’t take any action trying to fix disrepair in your property that you think might be causing the problem. If you make a mistake or cause more damage, your housing association may try to accuse you of damaging the property.
If your housing association or local council have left you living in a state of disrepair and haven’t taken action to remedy your situation, AWH Solicitors can help you file a claim against them.