Is pest control the responsibility of the landlord or tenant?

Is pest control the responsibility of the landlord or tenant?

Who is responsible pest control during a tenancy? Unfortunately, there is not always a straight forward answer. Pest infestations can be very distressing for both the landlord and tenant. There is a risk of disease, maybe damage or destruction and contamination of foodstuffs by rodents and insects. As a landlord with a rental property in Southend, you need to know if it is your responsibility to manage pest issues, and which pests you are most likely to come across.

Common pests

Some pests are a constant threat whatever the property type – namely rodents. It can be difficult to control rats and mice, especially when properties join and the animals can easily pass from one property to another.

If you discover rodents in your rental property, tenants are coming into contact with a public health pest that has the potential to carry a number of diseases. You should call a reputable Pest Control company at the earliest opportunity to have the situation dealt with. The Common Rat for example often lives in sewer systems; so, if rats have free access, what’s present in the sewer will also be present in the property. Rats also carry Weils disease, an infection transferred via their urine. Weils disease in humans has flu like symptoms, but can eventually result in the shut-down of vital organs and in extreme circumstances, even death.

Rodents can also be very destructive. Wood, brick, plastic and some light steel are all attractive to a gnawing rodent; water tanks, gas pipes and electrical cabling are commonly damaged.

If you have an uncontrolled rodent infestation in your property, you are literally ‘playing with fire’, or flood, as they gnaw through essential services. It is also worth noting that grey squirrels may be fun to watch in the garden, but are also rodents and will cause untold damage if they establish themselves in loft spaces.

Insects such as bed bugs can also be extremely problematic, especially if a furnished rental property has a number of tenants over a period of time. Bed bugs cannot fly, do not jump, and are traditionally transferred into properties amongst clothing in suitcases and furniture. Once established, bed bugs can be incredibly difficult to deal with due to their ability to hide in the smallest crevice. They can also survive starvation for several months. Bed bugs are rugged insects that can crawl long distances in search of food. High density living locations such as flats are typically places where bed bugs can expand rapidly and infest large areas in relatively short periods of time. Rapid detection and treatment is the key to successful eradication.

As with bed bugs, fleas can create headaches for landlords and tenants. They can lay dormant for many months in a property awaiting a suitable source to feed upon. As a new tenant moves into a property, a food supply appears, fleas will awaken and start a feeding frenzy. As with bed bugs and rodents, fleas should be treated by a qualified pest control professional to ensure elimination.

The question often asked by tenants letting property in Southend as well as private landlords is ‘who is responsible for dealing with infestations?’

The Housing Act 2004 states ‘residential premises should provide a safe and healthy environment for any potential occupant or visitor’. In this respect, it is clear landlords have a responsibility for the health of their tenants, especially regarding what can be termed as ‘public health’ pests with disease spreading potential. It is the responsibility of the landlord to ensure their properties are pest free when new tenants move in.

However, if the pest problem is noticed by the tenants during the tenancy period, the landlord may argue the tenants are responsible for triggering the pest infestation. The tenant has a responsibility to maintain an acceptable level of hygiene and cleanliness. Nevertheless, as for any dispute, one of the two parties must have grounds to support their claim.

In general, pest control should never be grounds for termination of a tenancy agreement, or for a compensation claim or refund request. Things happen, and they need to be dealt with promptly and appropriately. As a landlord, it is advisable to call a pest control company as soon as possible after discovering an infestation. You can resolve who will foot the bill once the problem is being addressed. The potential distressed caused to tenants should not be factored in when considering who is responsible for footing the pest control bill. The key to controlling pest infestations is maintaining close working relationships between tenants and landlords.

We are happy to offer half an hour of face-to-face advice, free of charge, to local individuals considering becoming a landlord.

Please telephone and ask to speak to Marcus, George or Crystal on 01702 445 606.

Marcus James is Lettings Manager at Pace Plc, an independent Southend on Sea Letting Agent. He deals with every aspect of the property letting process, providing expert and candid advice together with tailor-made marketing plans for each property he lists for rental.

Marcus prides himself on ensuring our landlord clients get the best return in the right timeframe for their investments by conducting rental appraisals, letting viewings and oversees the running of the lettings department.

    Pace Sales


    "I am a landlady with many properties and have dealt with Pace for about 10 years. Marcus is very friendly, honest, efficient and helpful and has made my letting experience extremely easy always finding me suitable tenants. I have nothing but praise for Marcus who has been with Pace many years.

    Mary R

    After renovating a block of 21 flats to place into our rental portfolio we instructed PACE and gave them two weeks to let all the units on a sole agency basis. Within a month all the flats were filled with suitable tenants. PACE delivered and exceeded our expectations.

    Runwood Homes Director

    As a landlord with multiple HMO properties, I have employed the services of PACE for a number of years now as they ensure I have my required specification of tenant placed in all my rooms. I only let rooms to employed applicants and very much favour their opening hours as this attracts and accommodates the right people.

    Johnathon Simons HMO Landlord

    Sara is my dedicated property manager and has been for some time. I have always found Sara to be a professional member of staff who always keeps me informed and provides regular visit reports, which is important to me. She deals with any problem that befalls her, contacting me if required. Sara will discuss any problem and invariably come to a solution. 

    Raymond Durrant – multi property landlord

    The staff are always friendly and helpful, my special thanks to Sara, we have built a very special rapport and I feel very comfortable phoning if I need anything. I feel very happy that I have one person to deal with all of my issues.

    Evelin Jenkins - Tenant

    We cannot stress how much we appreciate having a dedicated property manager. We live 350 miles away and also spend a great deal of the winter out of the country.  We have used Pace for a number of years and have never been disappointed with the level of service we receive.

    Peter and Maureen Mason – Multi property landlords

    I was extremely thankful I chose PACE to conduct the sale of my property and extremely grateful to Sue Mellor who worked very hard to ensure a smooth transaction. She was most knowledgeable and professional throughout, always reachable and approachable. She was able to answer all the questions I posed.

    Yvonne White

    I've recently purchased a property with the help of Pace. I found the staff extremely helpful and friendly. My first contact was Katie, she showed me around the property and liaised with the vendor. After, I dealt mostly with Sue Mellor. She was very knowledgeable and helpful. She kept me informed throughout the process and was the first to congratulate me on completion.

    Roni Miller

    I just thought I'd drop you a line about Adele who is managing my flat. Adele is doing a great job and is a credit to Pace. She has done, and continues to do, exactly what she says she will do and as a customer that is exactly what I want. Adele doesn't take things at face value and investigates things when she needs to, again a thing that clients will prize.

    Tony Mihill - Landlord

    Thank you to the team at PACE for firstly providing excellent property management services over many years and secondly for helping me to sell my property recently. All your hard work has been very much appreciated. Special mentions to Sara, Amy, Sue and Billy for their friendly and professional service!

    Charlotte, (Property Management & Seller)