How do I deal with pests?
As a landlord, you’ve got to be available to deal with any issues that your tenants report in the property. One of the worst ones you could have to deal with is pests.
Yes, we’re talking about something that could make your skin crawl, but you probably shouldn’t look away!
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Essentially, a pest infestation is when any kind of pest infiltrates the property. Pests can range from mice and rats to cockroaches and bedbugs. None of these are things you want in your home! So it’s important to act as soon as possible when your tenant reports an infestation.
Quite apart from the horror of sharing your home with a host of uninvited four-legged pests, pests are dangerous. While this may sound dramatic when the largest pest is usually a mouse, it’s true, as they can spread many diseases through their fur, feet, droppings, urine and saliva. They can also leave behind bacteria like salmonella and E. coli.
What causes pests and infestation?
There are a number of things that can cause pests to come into your home – it’s good to know about them so that you can make sure you’re not doing anything to roll out the red carpet for vermin! After all, prevention is always better than cure!
- Food waste. It makes sense that this would encourage pests, as one of the main things they’re looking for is food. So if you aren’t disposing of food waste regularly enough, you’re inviting pests to dinner
- Water. Yes, even cockroaches need water, they can only survive for about a week without it and human homes offer easy access
- Shelter and nesting. As well as food, pests are also looking for somewhere to call home and unfortunately, human homes are pretty perfect because they’re dry and warm, with plenty of dark spaces, and unlike the natural world, reliably the same
- Breeding space. If you weren’t shuddering before, you will be now because yes, your property has plenty of warm nooks and crannies where pests can nest and raise their families
- Safety. Unless you’ve got pets, your property offers safety from the predators of the outside world, allowing pests to go about their business in peace
How can you prevent pests
Well, now you know what is so tempting about human habitations, how can you make your property less appealing?
- Tip top hygiene. Make sure that you’re not leaving a feast for the wee beasties – empty bins as regularly as possible, pick up food scraps from the floor and keep surfaces and sinks clear of crumbs. This doesn’t just go for the kitchen – keeping the entire property clean is crucial
- Seal up. Spot a hole or crack in the wall? Get that seen to as soon as possible! You’d be surprised by the ease with which pests can get in through even the smallest hole, so if your tenants report any cracks or holes, book a trusted tradesperson through Mashroom to get them sealed up ASAP!
- Store things correctly. As well as cleaning up thoroughly, consider how your food is stored – use airtight containers and sealable bags to store things. When it comes to your clothes, launder your winter woollens and store in sealed containers to prevent tempting moths
So as you can see, a lot of what you can do to prevent pests is a tag team between you and your tenant.
Is it the tenant or the landlord that needs to deal with pests?
This is one of those grey areas in the landlord and tenant relationship as the short answer here is – it depends!
Ultimate responsibility falls on whoever is responsible for the infestation, whether that be the landlord or the tenant. For example, if it’s caused by the tenant leaving out food waste, then it’s the tenant’s problem to sort out. But if the infestation is due to the landlord not sealing up various holes in the property, then it’s the landlord’s responsibility.
Where it’s uncertain what has caused this, the buck stops with the landlord, who will need to investigate and get rid of the pests. Making sure you have Home Emergency Insurance can give you peace of mind here, as Mashroom’s HEI covers infestations by:
- Brown or black rats
- House or field mice
What should you do with pests?
The best thing you can do is call in professional pest control. Yes, this is more expensive than DIY traps, especially if you aren’t insured for this eventuality, but it is a lot quicker and more thorough. Pest control can not only clear out your property, but they can also help you understand what caused the infestation and advise on preventative measures, so you need never hear the pitter patter of several tiny feet again!
If pest control suspects the fault lies with issues in the building, get someone in as soon as you can to sort this out and plug up any holes. However, if pest control feels the fault lies in some of your tenants’ habits, you need to sit down with them and have a conversation about changes they can make to prevent this from happening again.
Yes, this is a potentially quite awkward conversation, but it’s essential for both you and your tenant, so you can wave bye-bye to pests forever!