We’ve covered the issues of pets in rented property and how they can seriously damage your property, even disrupting neighbouring tenant’s right of enjoyment in their home.
But what about pests?
As a landlord you have a legal duty of care to uphold, by firstly ensuring that your property is fit for your tenants to live in from the beginning of their tenancy. This includes being confident that there are no traces of pests or vermin, as these could be extremely detrimental to their health as well as infringing on their right to quiet enjoyment. The 10 most commonly found pests in UK households being mice, rats, wasps, ants, moths, cockroaches, mosquitoes, spiders, flies and fleas.
A thorough inventory check-in report will flag up any signs of pests or vermin from the outset and prevent future problems in the first place.
Other than thoughtless actions by tenants creating a pest problem, such as not clearing away food debris or rubbish, they can also be caused by disrepair to the property; e.g. holes in the walls and floors allowing mice to enter the premises. So if there is a problem with pests or vermin when moving in, as the landlord or letting agent it is you who is responsible for dealing with it.
A mid-term inventory report and inspection will help alert you to any pest problems that your tenant has failed to notice or report as well as preventing any potential vermin problems.
Carpet and clothes moths have become more common in rented accommodation in recent years and can be tricky to get rid of. I remember a recent story from a landlord about a tenant coming and telling him that she had moths. They hadn’t been there before the tenancy had begun but the tenant said they were in the carpet and were gradually eating it away! The tenant wanted to know what the landlord was going to do about it, but they hadn’t been there before the tenant took up residence and the inventory report proved this. Amongst pest control firms these have been dubbed “posh pests”, as they don’t carry diseases and love to live in wool and cashmere items.
Students in particular have recently come under fire for causing pest problems because of poor hygiene amongst some of them, with research by the Association of Independent Inventory clerks (AIIC) suggesting that pest issues are particularly acute in student accommodation. AIIC chair, Pat Barber, talks about a case where mice were discovered during a property inspection: “The tenants complained of mice faeces in cupboards and on the kitchen floor. Unsurprisingly the kitchen was in a really dirty condition with grease, crumbs and other debris everywhere. The tenants were advised to clean up their act.”
A check-out inventory report will fully protect you from pest infestations that are the fault of the tenant.
Being alerted about pests in your property by your tenant shouldn’t be ignored either. If you fail to act they can go above your head and complain to the council’s environmental health department, which could result in a fine or even prison if it poses such a health hazard to the tenants and their neighbours.
Furthermore, if your property keeps falling foul to pesky pests adding an express term into the tenancy agreement, which details exactly who’s responsible for dealing with pests and/or vermin, may be an idea for the future.
When asked “who is responsible” for dealing with an infestation this can become a very grey area, without a concrete inventory in place. Don’t let your tenant take advantage of you, simply get a thorough inventory done by a qualified, professional and independent inventory clerk for total peace of mind.