Murophobia or musophobia, in case you were asking, is the irrational fear of rats and mice. Even if rats and mice don’t scare you, you probably don’t want them running around your food cupboards or playing in your bedroom at night. And neither do your renters, because mice spread diseases that are dangerous.
In this guide, we’ll talk about the problem of rats and mice in rental homes, including how to spot them, who’s to blame, and how to get rid of them.
Signs that a property has a Pest Infestation
Rats can smell strongly and can follow the smell of food from a long way away. As rats, they can stand hunger and will do anything to get food. It’s easy to get from one part of town to another.
The hunger will make the rats even more exposed. Because of their movement, they will end up in a new area that they don’t know as well. So they will be exposed until they set up their nests and find safe ways to get to and from the food source.
A trap with food in it is more likely to catch a rat that is hungry. Usually, rodents are very wary of new things in their home, but in this case, the whole home is new. They are also under pressure to chew on something, so they will go for the food.
Don’t put food in anything else but metal cases.
Use door sweeps that keep rodents out. This is a great tool that will close the space between the door and the doorstep. Rats and mice can fit through any small hole that their heads can fit through. Their bones are very flexible, and it looks like their bodies are melting through the gap. It’s kind of shocking the first time you see it, but it’s real.
Use ultrasonic rat repellents. These can help keep mice away until you can hire a professional pest control service.
What you should know is that a very big rat could scare a fully domesticated animal. If a wild rodent bites your pet, it could also spread a lot of diseases. You should check your pet often for signs of a rat bite.
But can rats pass on COVID-19?
There are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 infected rats or rodents that gave the disease to people or other rodents.
Also, if we can spread the virus with our fingers, rats could do the same thing with their fur, paws, and tails. Since those rats and mice live in our sewer lines, it’s safe to say that they don’t take very good care of themselves. Rats aren’t something to mess around with. As soon as you see or think you might have rats, you should call a professional or take action yourself.
Who is responsible for Pest Control
George Eustice, who is the UK’s Secretary of State for Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs, said that pest control is a must during the outbreak. As a property owner, it’s your job to keep an eye out for pests and get rid of them as soon as possible, so you don’t let a population grow and spread.
What could happen if you ignore the problem with an infestation?
If you don’t take care of a rat infestation it can cause problems for a long time.
Rats and mice can do a lot of damage to electrical wires, floorboards and other wood, roof insulation, and even walls made of plasterboard. The longer you put off fixing the mess, the more it will cost you to fix it.
Tenants will not want to live in a rodent-infested property. How about? If you don’t fix the problem, they’ll probably just give you their notice and move out, leaving you with a hard-to-fill property. Then, you might have to pay a mortgage even though you don’t have enough money to do so.
If you don’t take care of a rat problem, you could also get in trouble with the housing department in your area.
Who is to blame for a rodent infestation?
If a home has been infested with vermin before a tenant comes in, or if structural flaws allow rodents to enter, it is the landlord’s responsibility to deal with the issue.
If the problem occurred during the tenant’s tenure (and it was not caused by structural faults caused by the landlord’s failure), the tenant may be at fault. For example, if a renter drills holes in the wall to run wires into the property and leaves trash laying around, it may be their fault if rats later move in. The landlord must demonstrate that there was no problem at the beginning of the tenancy.
A standard shorthold rental agreement may include a condition stating that tenants are responsible for the cost of dealing with vermin. If the problem is caused by the landlord, this clause is null and void.
What does the law say about the infestation of rodents?
Even though there is no law that says landlords are responsible for getting rid of pests in rental properties, there is one thing that is clear: landlords have a legal obligation to make sure their properties are safe to live in, which in a civilised society means free of rodents. As a landlord, you have to do what you can to get rid of rodents.
Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act of 2018
Landlords are legally required to rent out homes that are suitable for people to live in. The Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2018 went into effect to make sure that private rental homes don’t have anything dangerous in them that could hurt people. This includes small animals.
If a landlord doesn’t fix health and safety problems, like a rodent infestation, the renter or the local government can go after them in court. The Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2018 applies to all tenancies with a fixed time of less than seven years.
The 2004 Housing Act
The Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS) was made by the Housing Act of 2004. Section C, “Protection from Infection,” talks about home cleanliness, pests, and garbage.
This is about keeping yourself from getting sick. Including risks caused by:
- Poor design, layout, or building of the house, which makes it hard to keep clean and healthy;
- Pests can get into the home and live there; and
- There aren’t enough and clean places to store and get rid of household trash.
Impacts on health
These can include gastro-intestinal disease (caused by the spread of infection), asthma and other allergic reactions, stress (caused by the inability to keep the house clean and the buildup of trash), food spoilage (caused by insects like cockroaches), infections (caused by insects and rats and mice), and being a nuisance.
Inspectors from the local housing authority can use the HHSRS to figure out how serious the problem is and if something needs to be done to fix it. The HHSRS can be used to take action, but this doesn’t happen very often.
The 1985 Landlord and Tenant Act
The Landlord and Tenant Act of 1985 makes it clear that the landlord has to take care of the structure of the house. This includes drains and external pipes, which are popular places for pests to get in.
Repair responsibilities in short-term leases
In a lease that this section applies to (see sections 13 and 14 for more information), the lessor automatically agrees to:
#1. To keep the foundation and outside of the house in good shape, including the drains, gutters, and pipes on the outside;
#2. To keep in good repair and working order the installations in the dwelling-house for the supply of water, gas, electricity, and sanitation (including basins, sinks, baths, and sanitary conveniences, but not other fixtures, fittings, and appliances for using the supply of water, gas, or electricity),
#3. To keep the heating and water heating systems in the house in good repair and running order.
The 1990 Environmental Protection Act
Under the Environmental Protection Act of 1990, a pest problem could be seen as a statutory annoyance. If the landlord doesn’t do anything, the local government can enter the building to check, enforce, and do treatment work with only 24 hours’ notice. If the problem is caused by the owner not doing what they agreed to do to fix it, the local government can go after them.
The Pest Damage Prevention Act 1949
The Prevention of Damage by Pests Act of 1949, Part 1, Section 3, says that the local government can take steps to deal with a rodent situation. If the person served with an action notice doesn’t make the changes by the time listed on the notice, the authority can recover any costs that were reasonable.
What happens if you don’t respond to a notice under section 4?
Subject to the provisions in the last section about appeals, if a person whom the local authority under that section has given a notice doesn’t take the steps required by the notice at the time or within the time specified by the notice, the local authority can take those steps themselves and get back any costs they reasonably incurred in doing so.
Read v. Notting Hill Housing Trust, a court case from 2013
Within a few months of moving into a ground-floor apartment, the renter told the landlord and the environmental health department of the local council that there were rats in the apartment. He said that holes in the floor were letting rats into the house. There were also other problems with the apartment, like a broken boiler and rising damp. After a year, another place to live was offered to the renter, but one of the children had already moved to a grandmother’s house because of the rats. The case went to court, and the tenant was given a sum of £14,825 in damages.
Problems that renters cause
Assured shorthold tenancy agreements specify that a landlord must keep a rental home in a way that makes it safe for people to live in. The building must be in good shape and have no pests living in it, but renters may also have to do their part. Even though it is the landlord’s responsibility to make sure there are no holes where pests can get in and that there are trash cans that can be used, the renter must also do their part.
Landlords can only do so much to keep rodents from taking over their properties. Tenants are also required to get rid of rubbish the right way, keep their rental property clean, and store food in the right places.
No matter who is to blame for a pest problem, you should feel bad for your renters. You might not think mice are very scary, but some people are very afraid of rodents and will rightly refuse to live in a place where rodents are a problem.
If your renters tell you there are pests, don’t wait. As soon as you can, go to the house and try to figure out what’s wrong. Look for problems like holes in the floor or open drains and fix them as soon as possible. Fixing building problems is the only way to get rid of pests for good.
Working with the renters to solve the issue
If your tenant informs you there are pests or if you get a warning from the local government, you need to talk to them as soon as possible. Go to the house to find out what happened and why.
If the problem started because of damage to the property, fix it right away and tell the tenant what to do next. If your tenants are to blame, you should remind them of what their rental agreement says they have to do and teach them how to keep the property clean and free of anything that could bring pests.
Working with your local health and environment office
The Prevention of Damage by Pests Act of 1949, Part 1, Section 3, states that landlords must tell their local environmental health department if a renter says there are a lot of rats on their land or in their home.
Occupants of land must tell local authorities about rats and mice.
Subject to the rest of this section, the person who is in charge of an area of land must send a written notice to the local authority right away if he knows that a lot of rats or mice are living on or coming to the land.
Even if there aren’t hundreds of rats running around eating leftover pizza crust, it’s a good idea to call your local environmental health department if a renter reports a pest infestation. They can try to figure out where the problem is coming from.
A person in charge of public health should be able to tell if the infestation is a sign of a bigger problem in the area. It could also be caused by something the tenant or owner did or didn’t do. They are able to advise you on how to deal with the problem in a specific way.
How to Get Rid of Rodents in a Rental Property
If the rat problem isn’t too bad, you might be able to resolve it yourself. The first step is to block off all of the property’s entrances. Rats and mice can fit through very small holes. For mice, if you can fit a pencil through the hole, a mouse can get through.
Watch out for spaces where pipes go through the wall. Fill small holes with caulk and mortar. To keep rats out of bigger holes, mix steel wool with mortar. Close up spaces around windows and doors and look for holes in the roof’s eaves, which are common in older homes.
Classic Mouse Traps filled with peanut butter can help if the problem is mice or if you aren’t sure if there is a problem. Set traps in areas around the house, such as the attic or a pantry. Mice are very interested and will usually take the bait within a day. If you catch one mouse, you can bet there are a lot more hiding out of sight. Note that it can be upsetting for renters to find dead mice in a trap.
Rat traps with springs can be used outside to catch and kill rats, but they are not for the weak of heart. There are also cages that catch rats but don’t kill them. This means that someone has to kill the rat gently or move the rat to a new place.
Another popular way to get rid of mice and rats is to use poison bait. However, it’s not a good idea to use poison traps if there’s a chance that pets or children might get to the bait. Vermin poison is also deadly to other small animals, and if your tenant’s cat dies after eating rat poison, they will never forgive you.
Note that many anticoagulant rodenticides that used to work on rats and mice no longer do. Rodents have become immune to the chemicals in these products because people have used them in the wrong way.
If you use rat or mouse poison, remember that the animal won’t die right away. Instead, it will go somewhere else to die, and if that place is in a cavity wall or under the floorboards, your renters will have to deal with a very bad smell for many weeks as the rat decomposes.
Always throw away dead mice in a safe way. Leaving a poisoned rat out in the open could accidentally kill other animals and birds that eat the rat’s dead body. The BPCA says that dead mice should be put in two bags and put in the trash. Check with your local government first, because you might not be able to throw away dead animals with your regular trash. You could also ask a local pest control company to take away the dead animal.
Getting Help from Experts
When there are too many pests, the best thing to do is to call in the experts. They sell tools and poisons that you can’t get at your local hardware store. They will use a variety of ways to keep track of the problem, find out where the nest is, and come up with a plan to solve the problem as quickly as possible.
If you handle a rodent problem in a professional way, your renters are more likely to like you, which is important if you don’t want to hurt your reputation as a landlord.
Look for a pest control company that is part of the British Pest Control Association (BPCA). This gives you peace of mind that the pest control company is covered by insurance, has the right training, and can be trusted.
Remember that it may take more than one visit to get rid of a rat problem for good. Rats are usually wary of things that are new to their surroundings.
Does the Landlord’s insurance cover problems with rodents?
Check your rental insurance’s terms and conditions to see if rodent infestations are covered. Pest infestations, like those caused by vermin, are usually covered by landlord emergency policies.
Even if you can’t get reimbursed for the cost of hiring a professional pest control company, you may be able to get reimbursed for any damage caused by rats or mice, such as chewed electrical wires or damaged wood.
Preventing a Rodent Infestation
Preventing a problem from happening in the first place is always better than calling an expensive pest control company.
Below are some of the things you can do to prevent Rodents infestation:
- Close up the spaces around pipes and vents.
- Look for ways in and out of sheds.
- Cover open drains and close up pipes and sinks that aren’t being used.
- Keep grounds clean and cut back shrubs and hedges that have grown.
- Be careful about stacking wood.
- Don’t let trash and garbage pile up.
- If tenants feed birds in the yard, tell them to use a bird table or feeder and not leave food out overnight.
- Make sure to repair all garbage containers that are broken as soon as possible.
- Tenants should not be allowed to put their food waste in plastic bags on the sidewalk the night before a planned pickup.
- Make sure renters don’t keep chickens in their backyards, because rats love chicken food.
Be a landlord who welcomes pets
Cats and dogs are born to hunt. Rats and mice are fun for many cats and terrier-type dogs to hunt and kill. Farmers in rural areas often use dogs to get rid of pests, since dogs can kill rats in seconds and poison kills them slowly and painfully. It is also much safer than putting out poison food.
If you let your renters keep a cat or dog, it won’t always guarantee to keep pests away, because some pets are just lazy. Some evidence suggests mice and rats avoid houses with cats and dogs.
What to avoid
Don’t be an uncaring landlord and ignore your tenant’s requests. Visit the property as soon as possible after your tenants complain about a probable rodent infestation to check for evidence of rats or mice living there. Take action to eliminate the issue, then work with your tenants to restore the property to a safe level.
You’ve made it to the end of our guide on how to deal with pest infestation. We hope it was helpful for you!
Is your home or business struggling with a rodent infestation? At Landlord Property Maintenance, we’re here to help you regain control and peace of mind.
Call us today at 0141 889 100000 to schedule an inspection and consultation.
Our expert team specializes in fast and effective rodent removal and prevention. We’ll assess the extent of the infestation, provide a tailored solution, and ensure your property stays rodent-free.
Say goodbye to unwanted furry guests – contact Landlord Property Maintenance now! Your satisfaction and safety are our top priorities.