As a HMO landlord in England you’ve likely got a lot to deal with. So, if your tenants experience a pest infestation, it can be tempting to let them resolve the issue themselves. But are you legally allowed to do this, or do you have an obligation to take responsibility for eradicating pests from your HMO property yourself? The HMO Network team have some advice to point you in the right direction.
Pest Infestation Problems
Nobody wants to live in a property that’s infested with pests, and that includes your HMO tenants. Not only is it unpleasant to share your home with rats, mice, and insects, but it can be hazardous to your health. Rodent infestations are especially damaging since mice and rats can chew through floorboards, wiring, plasterboard, and insulation, causing structural damage, while droppings can cause health issues.
Did you know that you may face prosecution by the local housing department if you fail to deal with a pest infestation in a rental property? With this in mind, it makes sense to address and resolve the problem as quickly as possible.
Whose Fault Is The Infestation?
When a rental property has a pest infestation before the tenants move in, or if a property has a structural defect that allows pests to enter it, as the landlord, you must take responsibility for addressing and resolving the problem.
On the other hand, if the problem arose during the tenants’ tenure and hasn’t been caused by a structural defect resulting from a failure of the landlord to rectify damage (for example if a tenant has left rotting or waste food lying around which has attracted vermin) it could be your tenants’ responsibility to deal with the issue. Nevertheless, you will need to actually prove there were no issues when their tenancy began.
There’s no specific legislation that states a HMO landlord must take responsibility for eradicating pests in their rental property. But there are laws that make it clear landlords are legally responsible for maintaining their properties in a habitable state i.e., pest-free. Failure to rectify any health and safety issue, such as a pest infestation, could lead to you being prosecuted, either by the local authority or the tenants themselves. Nevertheless, as a landlord, you can only take certain actions to prevent pests from infesting your property. Your tenants must also play their parts in keeping their home infestation-free. That means they’re contractually obliged to correctly get rid of waste, keep the property clean and tidy, and to store food appropriately.
Should I Rectify A Pest Problem Myself?
Whether or not your tenants are at fault for the pest infestation, it’s best to act immediately to resolve the problem. You should work with your tenants to address pest infestations to maintain positive tenant/landlord relations.
Should your tenant inform you about a pest infestation, visit your property quickly to pinpoint the cause of the issue. Check for any maintenance issues like open drains or holes in skirting boards or floorboards and fix them immediately. If you find the infestation is caused by the tenants’ actions, remind them about their contractual obligations while educating them about how to maintain a pest-free property.
How Do I Eliminate Pests From My HMO?
In most cases, DIY methods will be sufficient to eradicate pest issues. Setting traps or calling in a professional pest control company will usually get rid of the problem. Once resolved, it’s important to take steps to avoid the issue reoccurring.
Prevention is better than cure, so take the time to discuss measures with your tenant. Advise them to:
- Keep outdoor areas clean and tidy
- Discard rubbish appropriately
- Store food correctly in sealed containers
- Ensure sure food waste isn’t left on surfaces
- Clip overgrown hedges
If you’re experiencing pest infestation issues in your HMO property, it can be time-consuming to deal with the problem. You can rely on our trusted property management team here at The HMO Network to liaise with your tenants and the appropriate pest control experts in situations just like this, to resolve the matter efficiently. Call today on 01245 835859 or email us at email@example.com. To find out more about our HMO property management service in England.