According to figures obtained by the Huffington Post this week, calls to report bed bugs rose by 28% between May and June this year.
In general, calls to report pests tend to peak in the summer months. Last year, homes in Britain faced more bed bug infestations because of the hotter weather.
Here, we take a look at what landlords can do if a tenant calls to report bed bugs in their property.
What exactly are bed bugs? The facts
Bed bugs are a pest of exposure, which means that they can infest anywhere. They are not attracted to dirt, so a bed bug infestation is not a sign of an unclean home, nor do they carry diseases, but they do bite. Bed bug bites cause red, irritating marks/ lumps and some people develop a more severe skin reaction.
How to deal with bed bugs-some top tips
Turning a mattress around and airing a bed could help keep dust mites at bay, but it will not deter bed bugs.
- For a suspected bed bug infestation act immediately by contacting a professional pest control company. Self-treatment of a bed bug infestation is unlikely to be successful.
- Bed bugs look for places to nest, so make sure there’s no clutter that has built up where you sleep.
- If your property comes furnished, make sure you know the source of the mattress, and some mattresses from unknown sources could have been thrown out due to infestations.
- If you provide a furnished home check bedrooms thoroughly between tenancies. Be prepared to throw away a mattress if it appears to be heavily infested.
- Don’t wait to report a problem – nip an infestation in the bud before it spreads. As soon as your tenant reports an issue, sort it out as soon as you can
- Do not throw items of furniture away or use aerosol sprays as this can quickly spread and infestation.
- Always check the beds when you go away for a few days so you don’t bring the problem home with you, it’s much easier to avoid than to treat.
Who is responsible for tackling pests in a property?
The question of who is responsible for dealing with infestations in privately rented housing depends in part on:
- Whether there is anything relevant in the tenancy agreement:The tenancy agreement may set out details on who is responsible for dealing with any infestation or may make the landlord responsible for keeping the premises in good condition and fit to live in, which could mean they have to deal with infestations.
- Whether the property was already infested when the tenant moved in: If the property is already infested when the tenant moves in, it is likely that the landlord will be responsible for dealing with it. In regard to furnished properties, landlords have a contractual duty (implied by common law) to ensure that at the start of the letting there is “nothing so noxious as to render it uninhabitable”.
- Whether the infestation may have resulted from some act of the tenant. The tenant may be responsible for dealing with the problem if the infestation was caused by something the tenant has done or failed to do; eg, not dealing properly with rubbish, not cleaning the property adequately, leaving food around or keeping pets which have fleas.
- Whether the property was in disrepair: Infestations may be the result of, or made worse by structural defects or disrepair, such as holes in external walls. Unless the disrepair has been caused by the tenant, it will usually fall to the landlord to carry out the repair and deal with the infestation.
Looking for advice on how to deal with other common household pests?
As we mentioned, calls to report insect infestations peak in the summer months. So, its important that if a tenant contacts you with a problem, you are clear what to do. Read up on how to deal with ants, bees, wasps and other pests in this article.