Who is Responsible for Vermin in Social Housing?
Although it’s somewhat of a common issue, no one should have to share their home with vermin and no tenant should be made to feel responsible for an infestation that evidently wasn’t their fault.
How does Disrepair lead to a Vermin Infestation?
Many different forms of housing disrepair can lead to infestations of all kinds of pests and vermin.
For example dampness and humidity can help create an ideal dwelling for cockroaches and silverfish, whereas ants will be attracted to traces of sugar and grease.
Structural defects such as broken roof tiles, cracked walls, doors and faulty windows would also significantly contribute to an infestation, as this makes your home easily accessible for insects.
Particularly in the winter months pests will be seeking warmth and shelter, which makes it all the more probable that they will find entrance to your home through such small defects.
Alternatively, excessive food waste and rubbish bags that haven’t been properly disposed of would attract rodents, as would constant littering in or around your property. In this situation however, the vermin infestation would be your responsibility and you would be expected to handle it yourself.
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Vermin in Tenancy Agreements
The first thing you should do upon finding vermin in your home is check your tenancy agreement.
The responsibilities of your landlord or housing association should be set out in your agreement and should address who is responsible for vermin; however we have found that many agreements fail to mention this.
Your Social Landlord’s Responsibilities
Your social landlord is responsible for maintaining the structure of your property and this includes the guttering, drains, walls and pipework.
Infestations caused by this kind of housing disrepair would be your landlord’s fault. A good example of this would be cracks in floorboards, allowing small rodents and other vermin to enter your house without obstruction.
Another example would be an outbreak of silverfish as a result of a damp problem in your property. Dampness is a form of disrepair that your landlord is responsible for repairing if caused by structural damage, ultimately making the landlord responsible for the silverfish infestation.
Health, Safety and Vermin in Social Housing
Pests and vermin pose a serious risk to your health, possessions and the condition of your home.
Rodents and cockroaches are notorious for carrying diseases and can even transmit toxic germs in a range of ways. The toxins can become airborne through their faeces, urine or shed skin, and can significantly aggravate existing health conditions you or your family members may have. Additionally cockroaches are infamous for causing food poisoning and skin disorders such as dermatitis.
The risks of fires and electrocution are also more prevalent if you have a rodent infestation, as mice and rats are known to chew through wires attached to electronic devices. They may cause noticeable damage to your electrical wiring, furniture and other belongings.
Infestations Caused by your Landlord’s Negligence
Any form of structural disrepair that wasn’t your fault that led to your home becoming infested needs to be addressed by your landlord. It would be their responsibility to pay for pest control, repair the damages leading to the infestation and get your home back to a reasonable standard.
If your property was furnished when you first moved in and appeared to have a vermin problem from the beginning, your landlord would immediately be held liable for the issue. This also applies to wasp nests which were present from the start of your tenancy.
Do you believe your landlord is responsible for a vermin infestation in your home? We are here for you.
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When your Landlord Refuses to do Repairs
We strongly advise you to inform your landlord of any disrepair issues in writing so that you can keep a copy for future reference in case they fail to respond or fix the issue.
Being able to prove you clearly communicated the problem can furthermore be helpful if they take too long to act on the disrepair or carry their repairs out at a poor standard leaving the problem to continue.
It’s important that you take photographs of the disrepair which would be best stored with copies of the communication between you and landlord. You should always keep medical records if your health has been affected by disrepair, mould, damp or vermin and receipts or bank statements for any belongings that were damaged as a result.
Claiming Compensation for Damages and Health Issues
Depending on the extent of the disrepair, infestation in your home and the effects on your health and belongings, you may also be able to claim compensation.
Our housing disrepair solicitors can assist you with your compensation claims and help you with getting your house back in order. Call us today on 0844 414 0667 or request a call-back from one of our experts.
We will be by your side throughout your housing disrepair claim.
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