Don’t let the Bed Bugs Bite!
With news of Paris being overrun by terrible bed bug infestations, the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan stated that reports of bed bugs on the London underground is cause for serious concern.
National newspaper reports indicate that Manchester, Leicester, Bristol and London have the worst bed bug problem in the UK. However, other cities like Newcastle, Liverpool, Birmingham and Glasgow also had higher than average infestations.
How does this affect landlords, tenants and agents?
The possibility of a significant bed bug infestation in the UK could cause major problems for landlords and tenants in the private rented sector.
It can be difficult to detect the presence of bed bugs as the landlord may not be notified of any infestation by the tenant. Indeed, the tenant may not realise that the property has been infested for a few weeks. By this time, the problem may be far worse.
This could lead to a massive headache for all involved, for the tenant, they may not be able to remain in the property until the bed bugs are gone. For landlords and their agents, they will need to resolve the issue for the tenant, and it could be up to them to pay for their removal.
Who is responsible for removing pests?
This is a potential grey area as it may not be immediately clear how the infestation was caused.
Certain infestations such as rats could have been caused as a result of a structural issue at the property.
If it can be proved the tenant introduced the bed bugs themselves then a landlord can argue it is the tenant’s responsibility to pay the cost of removal. However, if the property was let with bed bugs when the tenant moved in, then the landlord will need to sort out the infestation. A landlord has an obligation to deal with the infestation within a reasonable timeframe.
Any infestations that are not dealt with could be reported to the Environmental Health team at the Council.
What can landlords and agents do about it?
To mitigate this issue, the Association of Independent Inventory clerks (AIIC) has advised that landlords and lettings agents should take precautions before letting a property to a tenant.
The chair of the AIIC Daniel Evans advises that:
“A thorough inspection at check-in can ensure that the property is safe before tenants move in and regular checks throughout the rental term can ensure the home is free from bed
bugs and other pests that infest properties like rats, mice or cockroaches.”
We also encourage open lines of communication with the tenant so these issues can be reported and dealt with as soon as possible.
This content was exclusively prepared in collaboration with The Lettings Hub by award-winning Woodstock Legal Services.
Woodstock Legal Services are specialists in legal advice and solutions for the Private Rental Sector.
Landlords and their agents must be aware of the bed bug issue and take steps to mitigate against infestations. This is not only for the tenant’s sake, but also to avoid unnecessary costs and any complications that a landlord may have if seeking to regain possession of the property.
For more tips and advice from The Lettings Hub, our Industry Insights page contains a wealth of content on everything from protecting your tenants deposit through to letting properties to tenants with pets!