One of the most difficult problems we sometimes encounter at City Rental Services, is that of pest infestations in rented properties in Bristol – rats, mice, fleas, ants and bedbugs and other unwelcome guests can make a tenant’s life a nightmare.
If your rented property falls foul of vermin and other unwanted visitors, what should you do about it?
Another big question is what are a tenant’s responsibilities to ensure infestations in rented accommodation are minimized? And, equally importantly, what is a landlord responsible for to reduce the risk of pest infestation?
As a general rule of thumb, domestic waste is a tenant’s responsibility, whilst larger commercial waste is within a landlord’s remit: so, general rubbish and food waste must be managed and disposed of by tenants, whilst landlords should be taking care of larger items such as mattresses, sofas and rubble.
It’s vital to remember that, as a tenant or landlord, doing nothing is not acceptable – Bristol City Council’s Environmental Health Department take a dim view of inaction around pest control issues in rented properties.
Many pest infestations can be linked back to a lack of due care and attention to securing food storage, disposing of food waste, and a general lack of hygiene. Open food bins and non-rodent-proof compost bins are all culprits.
If the pest infestation is small, tenant and landlord should agree to resolve the issue between themselves, often by purchasing professional treatment, or hiring in an accredited pest controller – we use this Bristol firm.
It’s also possible to now add ‘pest cover’ to some buildings insurance policies.
Here are the main types of pests encountered in rented properties in Bristol:
A common brown rat infestation can grow into a full colony quickly, given that females can produce litters of up to eight offspring every four weeks. Buildings should be gnaw-proofed to prevent rat entry, as well as blocking any holes in walls or doors. Look out for gnawing and damaged materials, footprints and droppings. Poison and traps are effective if treated early.
Mice prefer domestic environments, often nesting under floorboards, in lofts and behind skirting spaces. Their chewing causes considerable damage to rented properties, including cutting through electrical wires. All food should be kept contained securely. Rodenticides can take several weeks to work, so landlords and tenants should consider mouse bait containers as well.
If entering a property in search of food, ants can cause considerable damage. To eliminate an ants’ nest, crawling ant powder should be applied around it, as well as placing insecticide between paving slabs, low-level bricks and at the base of external bricks outside a rented property.
One flea can lay up to 25 eggs daily, laying dormant until temperatures allow them to hatch. In a cold environment, flea eggs can lie dormant for up to nine months. Treating pets regularly is the first step to minimizing flea infestations. Vacuuming carpets, beds, floor cracks and where pets sleep is critical – as well as then placing insecticides to kill the adult fleas.
As with fleas, bedbugs can remain dormant and then become active when new tenants move into a property. They prefer to nest in bedding and mattresses, but can be found in small furniture cracks and textiles. Treatment is usually a combination of pesticides and steam cleaning mattresses, whilst infested beds may need to be discarded completely.
If you’d like to find out more about our central Bristol lettings agency, please feel free to get in touch here.