How to conduct a successful property viewing

Is a mouse-in-the-house my problem?

Question

I have just received a message from my tenant saying that they are concerned that there is a mouse living under the floorboards of my property. I am going to investigate, but if there is a mouse in residence, who’s responsible for issuing it with its notice?

Answer

Pest infestations are a difficult problem to decipher – some pests are attracted to lifestyle issues which would fall at the feet of your tenants, whereas sometimes infestations are simply bad luck and unfortunately, the responsibility is likely to be down to you, the landlord, to resolve the issue.

As a landlord, you have a legal responsibility to maintain your property, and remove all hazards. In order to ascertain who’s responsibility to evict the furry sub-letter from your property, it is important to ascertain what has attracted them to the property in the first place.

In this cold weather, it is no surprise that pests are seeking refuge in cosy, warm properties. After all, sheltering from the ‘Beast from the East’ in your tenant’s floorboards is probably a very appealing prospect for a little mouse. If this cosy critter has made entry through existing holes or gaps in the external walls, the responsibility for evicting it will fall on you, the landlord, as the tenant’s lifestyle is not likely to be responsible for the infestation.

However, it is also possible that your tenant might have a few lifestyle issues that may be contributing to a pest problem. The most common issues which can attract mice or even worse, rats, include:

  • Leaving food out
  • Insufficient hygiene and infrequent cleaning of the property
  • Excessive clutter in and around the house
  • Incorrectly disposing of garbage or piling up a lot of garbage in / around the house

If this is the case, you can insist on your tenant covering the costs for removal.

With rats and mice, local authorities have a responsibility to ensure that residential areas are free from vermin. If you or your tenant fails to tackle the issue and a complaint is raised to the local council, they have the power to serve a statutory notice on you ordering work to address the issue.

With this in mind, regardless of who is ‘to blame’ for the infestation, you may make the decision to undertake for removal yourself, and guarantee that the pesky pest is firmly evicted for good rather than relying on anyone else to carry out the required procedures.

Additionally, do remember that one little mouse can do an awful lot of damage to a property such as nibbling through electrical wires and damage to walls and plaster – issues which can run into hundreds, if not thousands of pounds to put right. If, once you explore a little further, you discover that your unwanted guest has already caused damage to the property – chewed though electrical wiring for example – regardless as to whether you or the tenant was at fault for inviting the infestation, it is your legal responsibility to ensure the property is in a safe and habitable state as soon as possible.

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