Here is a question to the blog clinic from Maurice who is a landlord
I am a landlord, I rent out a cottage which relatively rural, it about 50 metres from a canal and close to a farm. It used to belong to my late mother, and has been let for the first time. The tenants contacted me to report a rodent problem.
My initial response was that it is to be expected in the area and that they should deal with themselves, don’t leave food waste lying around and put binbags in the wheelies.
My mother had two cats that were proficient vermin controllers, the tenants only have a dog and are complaining that the mice are driving the animal mad – apparently whining all through the night.
The tenants evidently feel that I should be doing something about it and have sent me video footage of mice in the kitchen and sound recordings of scratching in the walls. The property is 150 years old and has numerous nooks and crannies where mice can enter. To find and seal all the entry points would be almost impossible.
The tenants are now threatening to report the problem to environmental health.
A friend of mine who is also a landlord believes that it is the tenants who are responsible for removing vermin and not the landlord, please can you confirm this?
You may be in some difficulties as my understanding of the law is that landlords are responsible for vermin infestation at the start of the tenancy and for any vermin who enter later due to any failure of the landlords repairing covenants (as in s11 of the Landlord & Tenant Act 1985).
The main repairing covenant here will be the obligation of the landlord to keep in repair the structure and exterior of the property. If the vermin are entering through cracks in the building then you may well be liable.
However on the other hand if the main reason for the infestation is, as you say, to food being left lying around and rubbish not being disposed of properly – then the tenants will be responsible.
In this case it looks like it may be a combination of the two. However, you may well be vulnerable to having an improvement notice served on you if the property is inspected under the Housing Health and Safety Rating System.
If it is absolutely impossible to resolve the problem then all I can think of is to suggest to the tenants that they find somewhere else to live and offer them a slightly reduced rent in the meantime. (You can also ensure that they leave by serving a section 21 notice).
In future I think you should disclose this problem (in writing so there can be no argument later) to any incoming tenants so that they are aware of it, and perhaps suggest that they keep a cat as your Mother did.
Incidentally you can read about some cases on rodent infestation here.
What does anyone else think?