Landlords need to make sure the property is free from pests and tenants need to keep their house in a condition that doesn’t encourage pests. They also need to know what to do if there’s an infestation.

Check for signs of pests before moving in

Before you move into the property, you and the landlord should inspect the property together and note any damage in a property inspection report (part of the tenancy agreement).

Use the inspection to look for any signs of pest infestations and raise any concerns you have with the landlord. This is also a good time to talk with the landlord about repairing any damage that may allow pests to get into the house, such as holes in external walls or flooring.

Keep your house clean to keep pests away

Once you move in, it’s your responsibility to keep your place clean and tidy. Your view of what ‘clean and tidy’ means could be different from the landlord’s.

You can help keep rats and mice away by keeping your house clean and tidy so they have no food source and nowhere to nest.

Issues to do with cleanliness and tidiness tend to change with the seasons. For example, around spring and early summer you may have problems with insects. Winter is a common time for rat or mice infestations to occur.

What you can do once you have pests

Tenants should let the landlord know as soon as they see signs of a possible pest problem. Where the infestation was not present at the beginning of the tenancy and neither the landlord nor tenant has done anything to cause it, responsibility for the eradication of the infestation is uncertain. Often in this situation landlords and tenants will agree to divide the cost of eradication between them.

If the tenant thinks that the problem is caused by the landlord not maintaining the property or house they can issue a notice to remedy asking for the work to be done.

Breaches that can be remedied tells you more about this process.

If a fumigation is needed

Your landlord should take responsibility for fumigations if necessary. Some landlords arrange an annual fumigation (at their cost) as part of the terms of the tenancy agreement.

You should consider whether you need to address any cleanliness issues. If the cause does not appear to be related to how well you keep the property clean and tidy, you should discuss the problem with your landlord as soon as possible. Ask them if they’re prepared to arrange and pay for fumigation.

Infestations caused by your lack of cleanliness could be argued to be your responsibility as a tenant. In these cases, a landlord could seek an order from the Tenancy Tribunal for the fumigation work to be done and for you to be charged for this.