Nobody wants to deal with an infestation of ants, or be responsible for dealing with a nest of wasps in the house.
However, these and other infestations can and do happen.
In some cases, you may not be responsible for clearing the infestation yourself; your landlord or local housing authority may be responsible, but you will need to identify the type of pest that has taken residence in your home and how they are likely to have become resident, before you can determine who is responsible for dealing with the problem.
Below is a list of some of the most common pests that could infest your home, and what can be done to get rid of them.
Rats are extremely industrious. They are effective at getting into almost any home. They can chew through concrete and metal, and once they have infested a property, they can cause illness and disease.
Because rats tend to be more active at night, it is often a lot easier to spot the signs of an infestation than it is to spot the rats themselves.
Signs Of Rat Infestation
Rat droppings look like large brown pieces of rice. A single rat can produce as many as 40 droppings a night, so droppings tend to be prevalent and one of the first signs that you might have a problem in your home.
Rats also tend to leave greasy marks on the walls, skirting boards, and stair spindles that they use as their regular route.
You may also hear them scraping and scratching as they climb the walls.
Nests made from cardboard boxes, loft insulation, and even old clothes are another good sign of an infestation.
DIY Rat Removal
There are ways that you can attempt to eliminate a rat problem in your home. You should start by removing their typical source of food, which could be left over food waste, pet food, or even food in the cupboards or pantry.
A well fed rat will not eat the bait in traps or poisoned food, so it is important to cut out their food supply.
You should also attempt to close openings that they are using as entrances and block any areas they might be using as a shelter. Essentially, you want to make your property as unappealing as possible to rats by removing their home comforts.
If you lay traps and poison yourself, you will have to deal with the removal of the dead rats yourself. Take care when handling them because dead rats can pass on diseases like leptospirosis (aka Weil’s disease) and salmonellosis. Always wear protective gloves when handling dead rats, and place them in an outdoor bin and not in the kitchen bin.
Alternatively, use a pest control company. Expect to pay around £100 for 4 loaded traps to be installed in the most effective areas of the property, and expect to pay more if you want the company to come back and remove the dead rats. They will also help identify how the rats are getting in, and give you tips on what can be done to prevent rats getting into your home again.
Who Is Responsible?
If a rat infestation was caused by disrepair to the property, it may be the responsibility of your landlord or housing association to deal with the infestation and make good on any repairs required to prevent further problems.
Similarly, if the rats were already in the property before you moved in, this problem should be dealt with by the housing authority or private landlord services. They must also fix any other problems that might have been caused by the rats, such as chewed wiring or damaged walls.
If the problem was caused by a build-up of food or other waste, it is likely to be your problem to resolve.
Bees and wasps can be a pest in the home. A solitary wasp or bee can even cause a problem if somebody in the house is allergic. However, in most cases, one or two bees or wasps should not cause a problem, but nobody wants a swarm in their home.
Bees serve a valuable purpose to our ecosystem, and they very rarely sting when alone. However, a swarm of bees can become agitated and may sting, and this can lead to a lot of stings and potentially cause major health problems.
Signs Of Bee Infestation
It is common for nests to be found in trees, but you may also find them in sheds and other outbuildings, or potentially even in your chimney stack or in holes in the walls.
Contact local beekeepers, who will usually welcome the call. They will come out and determine whether they want to remove the nest to replenish their own stock. Alternatively, they can advise you on the best action to take to protect your home and family. If your local beekeeper does want the bee stock, they will collect and remove the nest for free. If you do have to pay for professional removal, expect to pay around £50 for the service.
Who Is Responsible?
In the majority of cases, it is the responsibility of the tenant to have the nest removed and is unlikely to fall under the remit of any local authority or private landlord.
Wasps are considered more of a pest than bees, although they also serve a genuine ecological purpose.
Only the female wasp can sting, but they are more likely to do so than bees, and they will sting if provoked.
Like bees, you will commonly find nests in sheds and outbuildings, wall cavities, and chimney stacks. Disturbing the nest means that you are likely to be attacked by a large swarm of wasps and this can prove incredibly painful. A single wasp sting is unlikely to cause any lasting damage, unless you are allergic.
Wasp Nest Removal
It is recommended that you do not attempt to remove a wasp nest yourself. Ideally, a wasp nest should be treated earlier in the year, when there are fewer wasps and they are less active. The cost will be around £50 and £60, with an additional charge if you want the company to come back out and collect the nest once it is cleared.
Who Is Responsible?
If a wasp nest is found at the start of a tenancy, you should bring this up with your landlord because they will be responsible for its removal. If it occurs during a tenancy, then it will be your job to pay for the safe removal of the nest.
Although ants are not believed to carry diseases, they do forage in the garden before potentially swarming through the kitchen cupboards and even in the food itself.
Ants typically leave a scented trail so that other ants can follow the same path to a food source. This means that the small number of ants in your kitchen today could quickly become a much larger problem in a few days’ time.
DIY Ants Removal
It is possible to remedy an ant infestation yourself, without calling a professional pest removal service.
Watch the ants to determine where they’re coming from and how they’re getting in. Try blocking these holes using filler or sealant. Clean up sticky and sweet residues on worktops, tables, and other surfaces, and always ensure that you put food away after use, rather than waiting for the ants to get in.
Professional Pest Control
Professional ant removal services will first identify the exact species of ant that are taking up residence in your property.
In most cases, the pest controllers will use a bait station, which is placed outside the property and attracts the ants. The foraging ants collect the bait and take it back to the nest, where it will do the job of eradicating the entire colony. Ants travel in a large area to forage for food, so finding the nest yourself is unlikely to yield positive results.
Other services may use a spray solution, and the cost of removing your ant problem will usually range between £60 and £100 for a single visit, dependent on the type of ant control technique used.
Who Is Responsible?
Ants would not normally be considered a local council or landlord problem, unless they are a problem from the day you move in. In the majority of cases, it is down to you as the tenant to resolve any ant infestation problems.
Although cockroaches tend to pose more of a problem in hotter climates, they can still take residence in UK homes and other properties. They are primarily nocturnal, hiding in crevices and small holes during the day, and coming out at night to feed. They will eat virtually anything but tend to prefer food, paper, and other packaging.
Signs Of A Cockroach Infestation
Typical signs of infestation include an unpleasant smell. You may also see brown smear marks and shed skins. Cockroach droppings may be evident if there is little water. Droppings are only small, approximately 2mm long, and cylindrical in shape. Check behind bathroom cabinets, in cupboards and cabinets, and check under sinks in the kitchen and laundry room.
They also like to nest behind and in the back of electrical items like TVs and fridges, as well as smaller appliances like kettles and toasters. Some species can also be found in down pipes and drain covers.
Can You Get Rid Of Cockroaches Yourself?
Cockroaches are very difficult to control and dispose of. They can resist almost any condition, although it has been proven that rumours of them being able to withstand a nuclear blast are a myth. Their resilience, and the potential for spreading bacteria and diseases like dysentry via their faeces and urine, is why it is always advised that a cockroach infestation be dealt with by professionals.
Professional Pest Control
Professional pest controllers will initially assess the situation. They will determine the exact species of cockroach and determine the best treatment. Possible treatment options include sprays, gels, and powders. For a typical 3 bedroom house, expect to pay around £50 for a single treatment.
Who Is Responsible?
Often, a cockroach infestation is considered a landlord problem, although it is quite possible that the tenant has brought cockroaches in with their shopping, or an infestation may have started with a neighbour. However, you need to report the problem as soon as possible to help ensure that these pests can be eradicated effectively and efficiently.
There is as host of potential pest problems faced by any homeowner. As well as those listed above, you might face problems with fleas, bed bugs, or mice.
In the majority of cases, the question of who is responsible for fixing the problem comes down to who was culpable for its manifestation. If you, as tenant, have left food out or let waste gather outside the property, it is likely to be deemed your fault and you will be responsible for clearing the problem. If the pests were prevalent when you first took residence in the property, then it is more likely that negligence will fall with the landlord or local housing.
It is important to remember that what looks like a minor problem now, can quickly become a major issue, and you should take action as quickly as possible, in a bid to remedy the situation.