Our housing estate is being overrun by mice. What can we do?

Property Clinic: While mice pose no real threat, their numbers should be controlled

I have an unusual query which you will hopefully be able to answer.

I bought a house in a new-build estate in 2017, on the outskirts of one of our major cities. There is another estate on one side, and fields on the other side of the development. The house and the estate are fantastic, and I am delighted with my purchase. There is an active and helpful residents' committee and everything is going well, except for one factor.

There seems to be an enormous number of mice in and around the estate. I have found one mouse in my kitchen to date (and I suspect I may have had more); I am now using an ultra-sound repellant, which seems to be working with regard to my own house. Chatting with neighbours, many others have also had mice in their kitchens and attics. When taking a walk after dark, there are mice to be seen running up and down the roads of the estate on a nightly basis, and I have found dead mice on the footpaths on four separate occasions.

Is there anything we can do as a community to lessen this problem in our estate? Or is it simply up to each householder to take individual measures?


Many thanks for any advice.

Your question struck a chord with me. Recently on my daily walk I spotted a mouse on the main street of the town where I live. It quickly disappeared down a rainwater gully. I’d never seen a mouse out in the open like that before. Like you, I’ve had mice in my house before. Just when you have regained control and feel you’ve conquered them, a new invasion can soon take place. An incursion rarely involves a solitary mouse and typically you can have a full regiment to contend with.

Mice are opportunist and will enter a house given an easy route and the chance to escape dropping temperatures. You appear to have the situation under control in your own house. The problem is the proliferation of rodents in your estate generally.

Could it be that mice have always been scurrying up and down our roads and streets but we have been oblivious while enjoying the comfort of our own homes? Perhaps our paths cross more regularly now that we’re constantly out and about within our 5km radius?

No real threat

I’m of the view that if mice are outside they pose no real threat. Once our homes are secure against incursion I’d be inclined to let them roam freely, taking their chances with the neighbourhood cats. Their numbers should ideally be controlled, however. We can help by removing food sources and ensuring our rubbish is adequately disposed of. Meath County Council has recently reported a 40 per cent increase in illegal dumping since the start of the Covid-19 lockdown. An estimated €90 million is spent annually by Government on cleaning up illegally-dumped waste. Can you imagine the difference this level of investment could make to our estates. That money would finance a lot of safe cycling and walking routes.

The use of our byroads for walking, cycling and running has alerted us to just how much rubbish is cast into hedgerows and fields. The clean-up of verges and hedges will help in controlling rodents. This is something that perhaps could be arranged with your neighbours. A lot of local authorities are now organising a “Green Kilometre Scheme” supplying litter pickers, bags and gloves. This is a great initiative and a good way to build community spirt in a new estate.

Mice need food and if food sources are removed the problem should decrease. If houses are maintained externally then they should be impenetrable to mice. A good assessment of your houses should be carried out and any weak points identified should be sealed. – Noel Larkin

Noel Larkin is a chartered building surveyor and a member of the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland, www.scsi.ie