Experts disagree about responsibility for mouse control in rented homes
Landlords and tenants are often in dispute over who should get rid of mice
Structural conditions and tenant behaviour are key – Citizens Advice
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Mice infestation can be a big problem for private landlords to deal with – so who is responsible for mouse control in privately rented homes? Is it landlords or tenants?
Mice are emotive. Many tenants will have mouse phobias. Many also have justifiable worries about health hazards, safety risks, spoiling of foodstuffs and bad smells. Meanwhile, mice infestations can damage buildings and fittings. For example, mice can chew through electrical wires, which can cause fires.
So, who is legally responsible for getting rid of the mice in rented homes? We take a close look at what landlords and tenants need to know about mouse control, and review the expert advice on who should do what to stop mice getting in.
Housing legislation covering mouse control
The main legislation covering landlord responsibilities in relation to the maintenance of their properties is the Housing Act 2004. This states that:
‘…residential premises should provide a safe and healthy environment for any potential occupant or visitor’.
This is supported by the Prevention of Damage by Pests Act 1949, which gives environmental health officers powers to compel home owners, including landlords, to improve property if it is found to harbour pest infestations.
Other legislation relating to pest control in the housing sector include the Environmental Protection Act 1990 (as amended); the Public Health Acts or 1936 and 1961; and the Building Act 1984.
In its guide, Pest Control in the Housing Sector, the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health gives further details of these legal requirements and their implications for housing landlords.
What does this mean for landlords?
There are some grey areas here. For example, a landlord may have reached a specific agreement relating to pest control with a tenant. Also, there may be agreements in place with the property management company that affects responsibilities for pest control.
However, in broad terms, when it comes to mouse control, the landlord is responsible for ensuring the property is kept in good repair, to prevent mice infestation from occurring.
Meanwhile, the tenant is responsible for ensuring the property is looked after in such a way that mice are not encouraged to take up residence, and impact on the wellbeing of both themselves and others living in the property, for example through the proper disposal of food and waste.
It is good practice to clearly state pest control responsibilities in a tenancy agreement.
Landlord’s responsibilities for mice control
This is what some of the experts say about the actions landlords should take when faced with pest infestations in rental properties.
National Landlords Association
Richard Price is Director of Operations for the National Landlords Association (NLA). In a Q&A published on the NLA’s website, he said:
“As a landlord, you would be expected, as far as possible, to keep your property free from pests and in a way, that neither attracts them nor makes it easy for them to occupy the property. The Prevention of Damage by Pests Act 1949 is still in force, and you could be served with a statutory notice to eradicate the pests if an infestation at your property is causing a problem for tenants or neighbours.”
The housing charity, Shelter England, says it is usually the landlord’s responsibility to deal with pest infestation, if it is caused by conditions in the rented property that the landlord has responsibility for. It also states that landlords are responsible for sorting out any pest control problems before a tenant moves in. One reason for this, according to Shelter, is that furnished private rented property must be in good condition before tenants move in.
British Pest Control Association (BPCA)
The BPCA recommends that landlords work with qualified pest control contractors. This is to ensure they comply with insurance requirements, and can demonstrate that they have shown due diligence with regards to health and safety.
Citizens Advice points out that the local council’s environmental health service may be called by the tenant or other householders, if they are concerned about a mouse control or other pest issue.
One of their first objectives will be to determine the underlying cause of any pest problem. This may have implications, both legal and financial, for the private landlord, depending on whether it is concluded that the mouse infestation was caused by the condition of the structure of the property (potentially the landlord’s responsibility), or the behaviour of the tenant (the tenant’s responsibility).
Take action to control mice effectively
The BPCA says mouse control issues are most effectively dealt with if the landlord works in partnership with tenants. It is better to prevent mouse infestations than to try to eradicate them.
This protects tenants from harm. It will discourage them from moving out, to live somewhere that does not have mice, leaving landlords facing a loss of income, and a potentially damaged reputation, especially if the tenant uses social media to complain about the condition of the property.
How to keep mice out of rental properties
As the BPCA says, prevention is better than cure when it comes to mouse control. The best approach, then, is for landlords to mouse proof their properties, to prevent mice from getting into living space.
SUPERPROOF is a and a member of the BPCA. It delivers the UK’s most effective mouse proofing system, and works with many landlords and estate agents to protect properties against mice.
It does this by blocking ALL potential pathways into a property, using unique combinations of materials and techniques. That way, mice cannot reach the food they need to survive, and will perish, or must move elsewhere to survive.
The result is happy tenants, no risk of legal or regulatory action from health protection agencies, no damage to a landlord’s reputation, and reduced long-term cost, as rental income is protected, and no money is wasted on mouse baiting and mice trapping, which does not provide a long-term solution.
For more information about mouse proofing with SUPERPROOF, and how we help both landlords and tenants protect properties against mice, call us today. We’re here to help.