I had a friend contact me over the weekend with “help my tenant has got rats, what do I do”?
Well, it isn’t always the case that the landlord is responsible for eradicating these pesky little blighters. Neither is it necessarily the case that only dirty homes encourage mice or rats to cause infestation to a home. It’s a know fact that any area of a property or garden will encourage mice or rats if the environment provides food, shelter and warmth.
First of all working out who’s responsible for dealing with an infestation depends on several things:-
1/ Does your tenancy agreement state who will be responsible for dealing with the vermin.
2/Was your home infested before you moved in.
3/Is the problem being caused or made worse by disrepair or the property, garden or surrounding area.
4/Is it something that you’ve done or haven’t done that has led to the problem.
Was there a problem when you moved in?
If you live in furnished rented accommodation and the problem with rats was there when you moved in, it’s likely that your landlord is responsible for dealing with the problem.
This is because your landlord has a duty to ensure that your home is fit to be lived in on the day they let it to you. An infestation could mean that your landlord has not met this duty, this only applies at the start of a tenancy and wouldn’t apply if a problem developed later on.
This duty doesn’t apply if your home was let to you unfurnished.
Dealing with Rats:
Rats need to be eradicated as they can transmit disease to humans including Weil’s disease and Salmonella poisoning. In a house, they will gladly take up residence under floorboards, in lofts and
in wall cavities. We usually associate them with living in sewers, however they can also survive in your garden, living in and beneath sheds. If you regularly put food out to attract birds or hedgehogs, pound to a penny you have had a visit from a rat in the past. I’m not trying to discourage you from putting food out for other wildlife, we put food and water out every day to attract the birds, what I’m saying is make sure you don’t put food out to excess.
Your best defence to stop rat infestation would be basic housekeeping and cleanliness. Keeping your garden and backyard maintained with any overgrown areas cut back to impede rats from making nesting sites. Your household rubbish should be disposed of correctly and securely, leaving food bags lying around outside for any length of time will only encourage rats.
For example, if there are holes in the walls and floors which are allowing rodents to get in, then your landlord would be responsible. This is because there’s a term implied into tenancy agreements which says that a landlord is responsible for keeping certain things in repair, including the structure and exterior of your home.
It’s important that your house is kept in good repair to reduce the opportunity for rats to get inside from an external vantage point. Check for broken pipework, holes in walls and floors, rats love cavity walls as they are free to roam all over a house so ensuring the outside of the property is in good repair will help to restrict areas where rodents can find shelter.
Your local council can put you in touch with an Environmental Health Officer as it’s not always straightforward working out who’s responsible, he/she may also be able to identify the cause of an infestation, which in turn might help work out who’s responsible.
If you are thinking of getting into the property rental market and don’t know where to start, speak to us for impartial advice and guidance to get the best return on your investment. For more information about other potential investment properties that we could introduce you to, or to ask about our thoughts on your own investment choices, call us now on 01827 425195, you can always email me on Lorraine@hallandthompson.co.uk