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  • Writer's pictureElliot Leigh

Are Bed Bugs a Landlord's Responsibility?

Updated: Nov 30, 2023

unrecognizable person white chemical protection suit doing disinfection public areas stop pests

Bedbugs have certainly been making the headlines over the last few months, with the outbreak in Paris, closely followed by an infestation in London. Whilst there is no data on the number of cases, pest control companies have seen many more in callouts and there have been a number of sightings on public transport.

What are bed bugs?

Adult bedbugs are usually from 5-7mm in size, brown in colour and oval in shape, similar to an apple seed. Bedbugs favour upholstered areas so any sofas, curtains and carpets are likely to attract these pests. When looking for bedbugs, it is important to be thorough and know what to be looking for. They commonly hide in seams and crevices. Common tell tale signs of an infestation would include a large number of black dots (faeces) and blood stains. Bed bug bites may appear as raised, itchy bumps that can appear from a few seconds up to several weeks after a bite.

How can you treat bed bugs?

It can be possible for a tenant to treat a bed bug infestation themselves. Start by washing clothing and bedding at a high temperate (upwards of 60C). If fabrics cannot be washed, they should be put on a tumble dryer cycle for at least 30minutes at high heat. Once fabric coverings have been stripped, exposed surfaces need to be thoroughly vacuumed. It is essential to empty the hoover after as they can live in here. However, this may not be enough and pest control may have to be called in.

Is it the responsibility of a landlord or a tenant to deal with bed bugs?

Currently, there is not a specific legislation but the general rule is that bed bugs at the start of the tenancy are the responsibility of the landlord whilst those bought into the property are the responsibility of the tenant. However, if the property is in an area that requires a license from the council then the landlord may be required to keep the property pest-free.

It is likely that there would be disagreements over responsibility between a tenant and a landlord but pest control companies are usually able to say who is responsible as they can work out how long the infestation has been there due to patterns in reproduction. If needed, a local council can send someone to investigate to determine responsibility.

At Elliot Leigh Guaranteed Rent, we make being a landlord hassle free. Our property management team will liaise with the tenant on behalf of you to sort issues, such as bed bugs, and schedule specialists to attend if necessary. We also provide our tenants with guides to solve maintenance issues that can be done by the tenant themselves. Find out more benefits of our Guaranteed Rent Scheme here.

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