Is our mouse issue the landlord’s problem?
Property clinic: It is the duty of the landlord to ensure rodents can not easily gain access
Rodent problems are caused by either tenant negligence, or vermin accessing the property through gaps in pipes, etc
I’m currently living in a house share in Galway with four other girls and we recently found mouse droppings in our kitchen cupboard after hearing some suspicious scuffling in the area beside it. We have asked our landlord to book pest control to come and take care of it, but he seems to keep putting us off and says that we should just set some traps first which he has dropped over.
He lives quite far away so it’s not practical for him to take care of it himself and set the traps and return. Currently we have to set the traps and dispose of the mice ourselves, which we are not happy to do. Can we insist on pest control?
We’ve kept the place in good shape (no rubbish left outside, bins closed, etc), but now that we have inspected the property there does seem to be many ways mice could enter it from outside – surely this is the landlord’s responsibility and not ours?
If, as an agent, I was approached by tenants and informed there was a rodent issue in their property I would immediately employ the services of a pest control company to investigate what was causing the problem and then to eradicate it.
It is the duty of the landlord/agent to ensure that the property is maintained and that all repair and similar issues are dealt with in accordance with the 2004 Tenancies Act. If the landlord is away, then he has to put in place a structure where issues are dealt with and this would not be regarded as a legitimate excuse if this case was to be taken to the RTB.
Generally speaking, a rodent problem is either caused by one of two things: the tenant’s negligence – ie not putting out rubbish, leaving food around the property and leaving external doors open – or vermin accessing the property through gaps in pipes, sewers, drain-pipes, etc. In the latter case, it is a landlord issue.
In the event of the former arising the landlord can reclaim the cost of engaging a pest control company from the tenants and I have succeeded in such a claim with the RTB.
Nonetheless my experience is that invariably the problem arises from unblocked access points near sewers, pipes, drain-pipes, etc, where rodents are accessing the property and these external unblocked outlets need to be addressed.
To conclude, I would feel that the onus is for the landlord to investigate and eliminate this issue. I do not believe that any tenant would be overreacting in bringing up this issue.
Kersten Mehl is a Chartered Residential Agency Surveyor and member of the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland, scsi.ie