Here is a question to the blog clinic from Pamela who is a tenant
We had a rat problem 5 months ago. My landlord said she would not deal with the problem so I called a private pest controller and paid him to assess the situation.
He found that the rat was getting in through a hole in the cavity wall. He blocked up the hole and set traps. We took photos but did not try very hard to make the landlord pay for his services as they are so hostile and recalcitrant.
No sign of rats for months but now we have found a dead rat, poisoned on bait left from before.
I am not sure how this rat has got in but there are big holes in floor boards in other parts of the house (we alerted the landlady to these as a potential issue many times before but she has always dismissed this).
I want to ask the pest controller back to assess the situation but I am worried I will have to pay for him again and I feel I am being very poorly treated by my landlord. we have a small child which makes the situation more serious.
It seems reasonably clear from what you say that the problem is down to the landlord rather than you, so the landlord should be responsible for the (reasonable) cost in dealing with it.
Under the landlords statutory repairing obligations she is obliged to keep the structure and exterior of the property in repair. There is a procedure whereby you can deduct the cost from your rent if you notify her in advance and submit estimates for the works.
Although your problem is not the actual disrepair but the result flowing from it – i.e. the rats – you may still be able to use this process.
You could also call in the Local Authority Environmental Health Dept and ask them to carry out a Housing Health & Safety Rating System inspection – if they find there is a serious risk of vermin they will serve an improvement notice on your landlord ordering her to deal with it.
The real problem however is that if you have an assured shorthold tenancy, landlords have been known to evict tenants who complain, after their fixed term ends, under the no fault section 21 procedure.
This often happens if the landlord considers the tenant to be a ‘troublemaker’. It is known as ‘retaliatory eviction‘ and there is not much that can be done about it. At the moment.
So although you have remedies there are risks attached to them.