Repairs - infestations of pests and vermin

This advice applies to England. See advice for See advice for Northern Ireland, See advice for Scotland, See advice for Wales

Sometimes problems with your home can lead to problems with pests and vermin, for example rats, mice, cockroaches, ants, fleas, mites and bedbugs. 

Who's responsible for dealing with infestations

It's not always straightforward working out who's responsible. An Environmental Health Officer might be able to identify the cause of an infestation, which in turn might help work out who's responsible.

Your landlord will probably be responsible for dealing with an infestation if:

  • your tenancy agreement says they’re responsible - or it says they will keep your home in a “good and habitable state” or something similar

  • the infestation was caused by your landlord not making certain repairs to your home - for example, not fixing holes in the walls

Your landlord might also be responsible for dealing with an infestation if it means your home isn’t safe for you to live in - for example if it’s making you or your family ill.

Check what repairs your landlord has to make if you rent your home from:

If your home is furnished

If you live in furnished rented accommodation and the problem with pests or vermin was there when you moved in, it's likely that your landlord is responsible for dealing with it.

This is because your landlord has a duty to ensure that your home is fit to be lived in on the day they let it to you. An infestation could mean that your landlord has not met this duty, but this only applies at the start of a tenancy and wouldn't apply if a problem developed later on.

This duty doesn't apply if your home was let to you unfurnished.

Could you be responsible for dealing with the infestation

You might be responsible for dealing with the problem if the infestation was caused by something that you did or failed to do. For example, if you haven't disposed of rubbish properly and that has attracted rats, then you would have to deal with the problem.

Can the local authority help

Local authority tenants

In many cases, local authority tenants can contact their landlord to report a problem with pests or vermin and the authority will deal with it through their pest control service.

Other tenants

The local authority has specific legal powers to take steps to ensure that its area is free from rats and mice. They must take action to destroy rats and mice on their own land and can serve a notice on an owner or an occupier ordering work to get rid of the problem.

If you have a problem with rats or mice that are coming from someone else's property, then the local authority may be able to take action using this power.

The local authority also has other legal powers to deal with an infestation in your home. For example, where an infestation is harmful to your health or is a nuisance, then it may be a statutory nuisance. Where there's a statutory nuisance, the local authority may be able to force your landlord to deal with the problem.

Or if the infestation is a risk to your health or safety, it could be a hazard under the Housing Health and Safety Rating System. Local authorities have duties and powers to take action to deal with properties that have certain hazards.

In some cases, a private landlord may decide to evict a tenant rather than do repair work. Make sure you know whether you're at risk of eviction before taking action.

Pest control

The local authority's pest control or Environmental Health team can give you help and advice in dealing with problems with pests and vermin.

Some local authorities have a pest control service which you might be able to use, although there'll probably charge for it if you're not a local authority tenant. Independent pest control companies can also help, but they may be more expensive than the local authority's service.

In some cases, there's also action that you can take yourself, such as using traps and insecticides.

Next steps

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Page last reviewed on 07 December 2020