Q. My tenant has just reported that they have discovered a moth infestation in their apartment and are demanding that I call out pest control. This is very strange as I was living in the apartment prior to the tenant taking occupancy and never had any issues with moths whatsoever. Do you think this is my responsibility or the tenants? Obviously I need to get it sorted but who foots the bill?
A. Mice or rats, bed bugs, cockroaches the list of pests that can invade a home goes on and on and it’s almost inevitable that at some point your rental property will have an infestation of some sort or other. This is a tricky question to answer because it depends on the cause and how long they’ve been present, and often it isn’t easy to determine either. What is clear is that it’s the landlord’s legal responsibility to make sure the property is as secure as possible from pests, so this includes filling up any holes through which they can creep in. Air vents should be covered with fine grills, holes in floorboard filled and gaps round pipes filled with expandable foam. Landlords also have a responsibility to make sure there are secure areas inside and outside the property to store household waste prior to the weekly collection, and that the design and condition of the property doesn’t prevent it from being kept clean. If there is an infestation at the start of the tenancy, the landlord must get rid of it. Even if there is an infestation several months into the tenancy, if this is caused by a fault in the building, such as gaps in the walls or mice have wriggled in through an air vent, then it will still be down to the landlord to sort it out. So is it the landlord, not the tenant, who is responsible for getting rid of pests? Not always. Often a tenant’s lifestyle is directly to blame for attracting pests. If they have left food out, they are inviting pest in, if they leave rubbish lying around you’ll lure foxes and rats. And failing to vacuum the carpet frequently can lead to an infestation of moths. If the tenant’s lifestyle is to blame for an infestation, they must deal with it before it causes any damage to the property or the furnishings. Even if they don’t think they’re to blame, they must alert the landlord otherwise they still might be held responsible for any damage caused.