Pest control issues in people’s homes can be incredibly stressful for everyone involved. Compounding such issues is the fact that there is often some confusion over whose responsibility it is to resolve the pest problem – landlord, housing association, or tenant?
The truth is that responsibility is in fact shared between parties. Housing associations and landlords have a duty of care to ensure that residential premises provide a safe and healthy environment for any potential occupier or visitor, and that their properties are free from pests and in a state of good repair that neither attracts nor makes it easy for pests to enter and infest.
However, tenants also have their part to play to ensure that pest infestations are avoided, particularly by ensuring that food and rubbish is disposed of correctly, pet food is not left lying around open and non-domestic animals are not deliberately attracted to the property by being fed.
Precise rules and regulations will differ slightly from one location and property to the next. Local councils will make it clear within their terms and conditions who exactly is responsible for the cost of any required pest control actions to be taken. However, the most effective pest control will always result from a harmonious relationship between all parties – and harmonious relationships are built when everything is in order to begin with.
Signs of Unwanted Pests in Housing Association Properties
For housing associations, uninhabitable properties due to pest control issues will have many implications, ranging from the reputational to the legal and financial. There are also major health hazards to consider, as pests are carriers of numerous diseases and pathogens.
There are practical steps landlords and housing association property managers can take to help spot early signs of a pest issue, and thereby take the appropriate action of calling in the pest control professionals to resolve the problem before it can spread.
Rats and Mice
Rats and mice are a serious health risk and their control should be of priority concern for landlords and housing associations. Both rodents are carriers of numerous diseases, parasites and bacteria, all of which are easily spread around a home as the vermin search for food and shelter. In addition, they can cause significant damage to properties through constant gnawing at wood, brick, plastics, metals, and even electrical cables.
Signs that you may have rats or mice in your housing association property include evidence of gnawing damage around the property – both rats and mice use gnawing to control the size of their incisor teeth, as well as to gather nesting materials. Droppings are another indicator. These appear like dark grains of rice and will be scattered randomly, though are often concentrated around a nesting site. Grease marks against walls, skirting boards and flooring are another tell-tale sign of rodents being present. You should also listen out for squeaking and scratching noises, and scan the property for footprints and tail marks. Also look out for rat holes around the property, and follow your nose – rodents urinate frequently, producing a strong ammonia-like smell.
Finding any of the above signs should prompt you immediately to contact a professional pest control service to come and resolve the issue.
When it comes to cockroaches, you will indeed be more likely to spot the tell-tale signs as opposed to the actual pests themselves. Being mostly nocturnal, cockroaches stay well-hidden during the day, emerging from cracks and crevices at night to feed and look for new shelter.
Signs of a cockroach infestation include droppings and smear marks – the latter if there is plenty of water available, the former if not. Check along horizontal surfaces and floors for these signs. Look out too, for shed skins, which are translucent and cockroach-shaped. And, once again, follow your nose – a lingering and unpleasant odour will hang in the air where cockroaches are present.
Keep in mind that cockroach pest control is a job for the trained professionals. You can rely on their skills and extensive knowledge in the matter to ensure the best and most lasting results.
Bed bugs can be extremely problematic in housing association properties, especially if there is a high turnover of tenants. These insects feed on human blood, usually live around bedroom areas where people sleep, though can travel from room to room – and property to property – by “hitchhiking” a ride on clothes and other fabrics.
The creatures are tiny and able to hide inside even the smallest crack or crevice, making them extremely difficult to spot – though there are signs you can look out for. Dark black stains on mattresses and the surrounding area can be a sign of bed bug excreta, as are small dark blood spots on bedding. There is sometimes an unpleasant sweet, sickly scent associated with bed bugs, and it is possible to spot live insects and shed skins using a torch – and you should check carpets, beds and other furniture in this manner. Tenants complaining of being bitten in the night is of course an indicator of bed bugs being present.
Notoriously hard to deal with, it is of vital importance that you act as soon as there is any indication of bed bug activity and call in the pest control experts straight away.
More than just a nuisance, an infestation of flies can cause severe distress and pose a serious health hazard for housing association tenants. Flies, of course, are pretty common no matter where you go, but if there are large numbers buzzing around, you could be facing an infestation, which will require a professional fly control solution.
The problem with flies largely comes down to their feeding habits. Nearly all species of fly will vomit saliva onto their food source, tread around in it and then suck up the resulting liquid. As they do so, flies will subsequently contaminate everything they come into contact with by spreading bacteria from their guts and feet.
Signs of a fly infestation include small dark clusters of spots on surfaces, the appearance of maggots (which are actually flies in their larval stage, and could indicate a potential breeding site on your property), and of course regular sightings of the adult insects.
Pest birds that threaten housing environments include starlings, pigeons, gulls, sparrows, crows, rooks, jackdaws and magpies. All species can be carriers of disease, parasites and pathogens, and, due to their size and nesting habits, can cause serious damage to properties.
If you see lots of birds settling on roofs or ledges of any of your properties, it could be a sign of an infestation. Listen out for cries of baby chicks in the spring and early summer, as this is a clear indicator that there’s at least one nest tucked away somewhere. Other signs include nesting materials strewn about your premises, large amounts of droppings and feathers which may block guttering and drainage systems, potentially leading to damp damage and other problems.
Professional pest bird control specialists will be required to deal with a bird infestation problem.
Safeguard Pest Control
At Safeguard Pest Control, we have over 30 years’ experience in pest and bird control, and have worked alongside many housing associations to solve all manner of problems from all of the species and more covered in this post. We are specialists in working with landlords and tenants in high density environments where infestations can expand rapidly in short periods of time.
Get in touch today for a free site survey.