Pests and vermin infestations in rented homes

If mice, rats or other pests or vermin are causing problems in your rented home, find out who's responsible for sorting it out.

Responsibility for dealing with pests and vermin

Pests and vermin can be a health and safety hazard.

Your landlord is responsible for dealing with infestations of pests and vermin if:

  • it was caused by a disrepair issue such as a hole in the wall
  • your tenancy agreement says your landlord should make sure the property is fit to live in
  • you live in a furnished home and the pests were there before your tenancy started

What your landlord should do

Your landlord should fix holes in the wall or floor that allow rats, mice or other pests to enter.

They must take steps to deal with the infestation if that’s the reason they are in your home.

The landlord must also fix any problems the pests have caused, such as:

  • doors, skirting boards, pipes or brickwork that have been chewed through
  • damage to electrical wiring

Report the problem to your landlord

Report problems caused by pests and vermin to your landlord as soon as possible.

You can tell the landlord about the problem in person, by phone or text. You should also write to them or email them to confirm the details .

Keep a record of:

  • letters, texts or emails between you and your landlord
  • the time and date if you speak to them on the phone

Allow your landlord reasonable time to do the work once you have reported the problem.

If your landlord won’t do repairs

There are steps you can you take if the problem is caused by disrepair and your landlord won’t deal with an infestation.

If you caused the problem

As a tenant, you should deal with pests or vermin if you caused the problem. This might be because you didn't clear away rubbish or leftover food.

If no one is responsible

If neither you or your landlord caused the problem, then you may have to try to deal with it yourself if your landlord won’t help.

Complain to environmental health

You can complain to your local council’s environmental health department if pests and vermin are a health and safety hazard in your home.

They can inspect your home to decide what action needs to be taken.

Depending on the circumstances they could:

  • get rid of the pests and charge you or your landlord for the work
  • serve a notice ordering your landlord to deal with the problem
  • warn your landlord that they are aware of a problem but won’t take any further action for now
  • advise you of the best way to deal with the problem

Pests and vermin from neighbours' homes

You can ask your neighbour to deal with pests or vermin that are coming from their home.

If your neighbour rents their home, you can also report the problem to their landlord.

You can complain to the environmental health department if your neighbour or their landlord doesn't fix the problem.

Environmental health can serve a notice ordering your neighbours to deal with the issue.

If they don't, the council can arrange for work to be done and charge your neighbours or their landlord for it.

If you want to move out

If you want to move out due to problems with pests and vermin, you must end your tenancy properly. You will be responsible for paying the rent if you don’t.

Find out how to end a:

Apply to the council as homeless

You could make a homeless application to your local council if pests or vermin pose a serious health risk.

You must have very strong evidence you can’t live in your home because of the infestation.

Don't move out without getting advice. You could be classed as intentionally homeless and lose the right to be rehoused.

Still need advice?

Contact a Shelter adviser online or by phone


Last updated 06 Apr 2018 | © Shelter

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