My balcony is covered in pigeon droppings. Who is liable?

Property Clinic: Should the management company cover the clean-up costs?

Balcony is  completely unusable as it is covered in bird excrement.

Balcony is completely unusable as it is covered in bird excrement.

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I have a major problem with my balcony: it is completely unusable as it is covered in bird excrement. I cleaned the balcony myself initially, but it was back to square one again in no time. Now it is revolting, and it is right outside my bedroom window/door. The pigeons are perched a few floors up just under the roof. I am on the second floor but there is nothing above my balcony until the roof, which is another few stories up.

I contacted the management company back in August about the problem. They told me to contact a specialist wildlife management company, which I did. I also contacted the builders, whose offices happen to be next door, but they said that this was the responsibility of the building’s management company and there was nothing they could do.

I forwarded the report and quote from the specialist wildlife management company to the management company. For the installation of specialist bird-proof spikes along the upper balcony and the provision of specialist decontamination cleaning, the quote was €1,400 plus VAT.

The management company representative said she spoke to the board about this issue and the janitor can fit spikes if I provide them. She did not mention anything about the professional clean that will be required. I would like to know my rights in relation to this. Is the management company liable? Should they be covering the installation of the spikes and the professional clean? As far as I am aware, I am in the only apartment with this problem in the complex as all the other balconies are covered.

Pigeons are a common pest in many urban areas and are primarily attracted by food and places to nest. Anti-roosting spikes are an extremely effective and cheap method of deterring pigeons from congregating on buildings and can be easily installed on almost any building. While these anti-roosting spikes will act as a deterrent, it is essential that possible nesting areas and sources of food are identified and addressed.

If there is attic space above you, this should be inspected to check for evidence of nesting birds and, if necessary, engage a specialist company to remove any nests and birds. Possible areas of access should also be sealed to prevent pigeons gaining access in the future. In tandem with these measures, the Owners Management Company (OMC) should review any possible sources of food within the complex for pigeons. Food sources can include uncovered refuse areas, household rubbish in the common areas or indeed residents feeding the pigeons.

Usually the OMC is responsible for the maintenance and upkeep of the common areas and the cost of dealing with pest control would be under the OMC’s remit. You do not mention in your letter if a reason was given to you as to why the OMC is looking to you to meet the cost of purchasing the anti-roosting spikes, but it is possible that it may have funding issues which affects its ability to meet such unbudgeted costs. You may find the most expedient way to address this problem is for you to purchase the necessary spikes.

However, I would recommend discussing with the OMC if it is possible to be reimbursed for any costs incurred by you that would normally be the responsibility of the OMC. You should also seek clarity in respect of any attic space above you and under whose remit it is as this area should also be inspected and addressed as required.

As for the messy job of cleaning up your balcony, the maintenance of this area is likely to be your responsibility as under typical indenture leases owners have exclusive use of and access to the area and consequentially the cost of the clean-up in this instance would fall to you to cover.

Aoife O’Sullivan is a chartered property manager and member of the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland, scsi.ie

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