I have an infestation of pests. Who is responsible for clearing these out? Is it me or my Landlord?
An increasing number of tenants are turning to their landlords and agents expecting them to deal with pest problems.
According to the Independent Inventory Clerks (AIIC), a quarter of students have vermin in their private student accommodation. Over half of students in the research experience problems getting their landlord or letting agent to deal with the pest problem.
Infestation by pests and vermin such as cockroaches or rats could make any property uninhabitable. Disrepair or poor building design and unhygienic living conditions can result in infestation by cockroaches, ants, mites, silverfish, bedbugs, fleas, rats or mice.
When it comes down to deciding who is responsible for dealing with a pest problem, there is often disagreement between the landlord or agent and the tenant.
Commenting on the rising problem, Pat Barber, Chair of the Association of Independent Inventory Clerks, said: "Tenants have unrealistic expectations and don't want to take responsibility for anything. They sometimes think that their landlord should pay for everything no matter what.
"Time and time again we see tenants complaining about a pest problem that is caused by their poor hygiene. An infestation of mice was found during a recent property inspection, the tenants complained of mice feaces in cupboards and on the kitchen floor. Unsurprisingly, the kitchen was in a really dirty condition with grease, crumbs and other debris everywhere. The tenants were advised to clean up their act, as they were encouraging mice by leaving plenty of food for them to eat.'
The AIIC has put together some guidelines on what the tenant and the agent or landlord is responsible for:
Wasps -The landlord will need to arrange and pay for removal of a nest that is apparent at the start of a tenancy.
Rats - If this is an ongoing problem with the property, it is the Landlord's responsibility to pay for regular treatment.
Fleas - If there is a flea infestation that is present at the start of a new tenancy, then it is again down to the landlord to have the carpets and upholstery fumigated if the tenant's pets are not the cause of the problem
Bees -They are a protected species and swarms should only be removed by a professional bee-keeper. It is the responsibility of the tenant to pay for removal of a bees nest.
Ants - These can be a real nuisance and will return, usually to the kitchen
I have moved, but the landlord is saying he will keep some of my deposit money for cleaning the oven, kitchen and carpets. Surely this is fair wear and tear?
Statistics from the Association of Independent Inventory Clerks (AIIC) show that cleaning is the most common cause of disputes over deposits between agents and tenants. When you leave your rented accommodation it is advantageous to you to give the property a thorough clean throughout. This will enable you to minimise any likelihood of a retention of your deposit. Try to make any repairs as you go along as well.
The following list covers the most common areas of dispute.
Ovens cause the most problems and professional cleaning of these can cost upward of £50.
Stained and marked carpets. Regardless of the colour of carpets you should make every effort to keep these clean by regular vacuuming. Any spills should be dealt with immediately to prevent permanent staining.
Heavy limescale to kitchen and bathroom fittings.
Grease deposits throughout the kitchen.
Thick dust and cobwebs around furniture and on the ceilings.
Pat Barber, chair of the AIIC, says "The simple answer is that if an area was clean at check-in it should be left clean at check-out. If something can be cleaned then it should be. If any dust or crumbs are present then this is clearly not clean. We all know that accidents happen during a tenancy, but tenants need to realise that they must take financial responsibility for things that are beyond normal wear and tear."
I have problems with condensation
The following advice was supplied by the Association of Independent Inventory Clerks (A.I.I.C)
Dry all windows, window sills and any other surfaces that have become wet. Ensure you wring out the cloth thoroughly, but do NOT dry on a radiator.
Try to keep the interior of the property at a reasonably even temperature.
If possible always hang your washing outside. If this is not posssible you could hang it in the bathroom with the door closed and window slightly open for ventilation. Do NOT dry washing on the radiators as this will add to the moisture already in the air.
If you have an extracter fan then use it. If it's faulty or it can't hold a postcard to it when switched on advise your landlord so that they can repair or replace it.
If you use a tumble dryer, ensure it is well ventilated to the outside or that it is of the condensing type. Try to ventilate your kitchen when in use either by opening a window or using the extractor fan.
Try to ventilate both kitchen and bathrooms for at least twenty minutes after use.
If your property is prone to condensation then daily use of a de-humidifier unit can be very beneficial. These come in all shapes and sizes, cost very little to run and draw out the excess moisture from the air helping to keep the condensation under control.
The AIIC also point out that deposits will be at risk should damage to the property occur due to condensation and mould.