Pests and vermin infestations in rented homes

Find out who’s responsible for dealing with rats, mice, bedbugs, fleas and other infestations in your rented home.

When your landlord is responsible

Your landlord is usually responsible for dealing with pest problems if:

  • repairs are needed to stop pests getting in
  • an infestation makes your home unfit to live in

You must report repairs or pest problems as soon as possible.

You should make sure your home is reasonably clean and there is nothing to attract pests. For example, avoid leaving out food or rubbish.

If repairs are needed

Rats, mice and other pests may get into your home because of problems such as: 

  • holes in external walls
  • broken vents or air bricks
  • damaged doors or windows
  • cracked pipework or blocked drains

Your landlord must carry out repairs to stop pests getting in and fix any internal damage they cause.

If your home is unfit to live in

Many pests including rats, mice and cockroaches can be harmful to human health. 

Your home could be unfit to live in if an infestation puts your health at serious risk.

From 20 March 2019 landlords must make sure their properties are fit to live in from the start of the tenancy until it ends. This won't apply to your tenancy immediately if it started or you signed an agreement before this date.

Paying for a pest control service

Your landlord could:

  • use a commercial pest control company 
  • contact environmental health at the council

You shouldn't be charged for this if the infestation was caused by disrepair or if your landlord is required to keep your home fit to live in. 

Pests from neighbours’ homes

Ask your neighbour to deal with rats, mice and other pests that are coming from their home.

If your neighbour rents their home and they won’t deal with the problem, you can report it to their landlord

You may need to speak to the owner of the building if you live in a flat and the pest problem is in the common areas.

Help from the council

The council’s environmental health department may be able to:

  • give advice on dealing with pests
  • get rid of pests and charge you or the landlord for it

Sometimes environmental health are part of another council department such as housing standards or housing enforcement.

Find your council's website on GOV.UK and search for the right team

If you're a private renter, environmental health can inspect your home and may order your landlord to deal with a pest problem.

Some private landlords try to evict renters if they complain about conditions in their home. You may be protected from a revenge eviction for at least 6 months if environmental health take action against your landlord.

Help from the homeless department

You can ask for homeless help if your home is severely infested and it's not reasonable for you to live there.

Don't move out without advice though - the council will usually try to get your landlord to sort out the problem so you can stay in your home. 

The council could decide you're intentionally homeless if you leave your home when it's reasonable to stay.

If you want to move out

You need to end your tenancy properly if you decide to move out. If you don't, you could still have to pay rent after you leave. 

Find out how to end a:

Still need advice?

Contact a Shelter adviser online, by phone or in person

Last updated 22 Mar 2019 | © Shelter

If you need to talk to someone, we’ll do our best to help

Get help

Was this advice helpful?

Email a link to this article

Thank you - your message has been sent.

Sorry! - your message has not been sent this time.

Was this advice helpful?

Thank you - your feedback has been submitted to the team.

Sorry! - your message has not been sent this time.