Total rodent control in Reading, Wokingham and Woodley
When it comes down to the actual frequency of pest our most common problem across the area are rats, and primarily internal domestic infestations, over years of experience we’ve come up against a wide range of scenarios and a working of the law and property legislation is important as it helps us overcome some issues.
We deal with rodent pests like rats and mice with one aim and that is to discover how the animals gain access to the interior of your property and how we can stop them from getting in for good; a ‘straight to poison’ approach will not get rid of rats and mice for the long term, only a systematic, thorough survey and elimination of entry points will get you 100% vermin free.
Whether you are tenant, property owner or landlord the following guide may be of interest to you, we deal with all sectors of the community; social housing and blocks of flats, from a one bedroom bungalow to million pound mansions and our aim is the same – to get you pest free for good. We have put together some information on legislation that affects us as tenants and property owners.
The Housing Act 2004 and Pests
The Housing Act covers many facets of the domestic property market and it also has a section that relates to pests, you know the saying that an Englishman’s home is his castle? Not with this Act it isn’t, infestations of pests like bed bugs for example are covered by this Act: The Act states that residential premises should provide a safe and healthy environment for any potential occupant or visitor. One thing made clear throughout the Act is that the Landlord has the responsibility for pest control as they are the premise owner, how they look at costs and recovering costs is between themselves and the tenant.
The Housing health and Safety Rating System and Pests
Private Landlords must rent out properties that meet the Governments’ Decent Homes Standard and follow the Housing Health and Safety Rating System or HHSRS for short; the HHSRS lays down 29 different Category 1 hazards that are seen as a serious and immediate risk to human health. Section 15 of the HHSRS concerns domestic hygiene, pests, and refuse.
The Local Authority use a set risk assessment for the HHSRS where the likelihood of an event is multiplied by the outcome and given a score. So, for example if a property has a serious and unchecked rat infestation the likelihood of someone contracting Weils Disease from infected rat urine and becoming extremely ill is high.
The score applied may come out high enough on the risk assessment table that the Local Authority deems that there is imminent risk of serious harm to the occupants and serve an emergency notice on the Landlord, they can also issue a prohibition order to prevent the property being used and even prosecute the owner through the Magistrates Courts.
For private Landlords, pest infestations from rodents no matter how serious or long running can easily be resolved and even with major faults like a broken drain, these can be relatively inexpensive to fix, much better that, than being taken to Court and losing tenants?
Property Information Forms (TA6) and Pests
The old caveat of buyer beware is a myth and a thing of the past especially when it comes to the purchase of your home, for example you must inform potential buyers of known or latent defects in the property. Surveys may not pick up things like broken drains and subsequent rat infestations where new loft insulation has been laid down (we have seen this from experience) and an addition to the conveyancing process is the introduction of the TA6 form.
The TA6 form draws in a wide range of information from the seller of a property and although not compulsory any conveyancing solicitor that holds the Conveyancing Quality Scheme accreditation will insist on this form being completed. As this form collects an enormous amount of useful data on the property any refusal to complete must raise a red flag with the buyer?
We have seen so many rat and mouse infestations in recently purchased properties where the new homeowners are distraught and now out of pocket having to correct the defects sold with the house. Further protection comes in the form of The Misrepresentation Act 1967 which places the burden of proof with the seller, if this form has been filled out untruthfully you have a good case and even without the TA6, misrepresentation is serious enough that it is considered fraud.
The Party Wall Act 1996 and how it affects Pest Control
Your property will most likely share some aspects with the neighbouring structure; for example, a semi-detached house ‘shares’ the wall that separates the two halves of the building. More commonly in our experience is that we need to inspect and make repairs to part of a wall be it an extension that butts out into the neighbours garden or the gable end of a building where we are seeing rat activity.
You have rights to maintain your property under the Party Wall Act: the right to take reasonable measures to protect your property from foreseeable damage, the adjoining owner must when necessary allow workmen carry out works in pursuance of the Act.
14 days’ notice of any work is required, and it is an offence to refuse entry or cause an obstruction; we occasionally see the need to mention this Act where there has been a long running dispute between two neighbour’s and we have pests accessing the cavity wall.
Bats and the law – protected species and not regarded as pests
We get a lot of call outs for mice when people discover black animal droppings in their loft, we often find that these are bat droppings and for the homeowner this comes as something as a shock. Bat droppings are black in colour the same as mouse poo but whereas mice leave small oblong droppings with sharp ends, bat poo is knobbly and irregular in length. Bat droppings will be found on top of items in the loft; so, look at stored goods and along joists and struts, where the bats roost you’ll often find a small area where the droppings are concentrated.
The one sure fire way to determine whether or not you have bats or mice is to pick up the dropping and roll it between finger and thumb: bat droppings are formed of the insect hard parts, the chitin. If you have picked up a bat dropping it will crumble to dust, if its mice poo; at least you know – now wash your hands.
Bats and this include bat roosts are protected by law, as a homeowner you will be committing a criminal offence if you harm or kill the bats or destroy (block up the entrance holes) the roost. This last part applies even if the bats aren’t in residence at the time. Having bats in your loft is a major problem if you want to see it that way, alternatively, you can look at the other side and that your house has been chosen as a home for a protected species that is in decline? You can look forward to the spectacle of watching bats leave the roost on a summers evening.
The Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 covers bats and it is even illegal to disturb bats within their roost, we will not remove bats, block up roosts or carryout cleaning and waste removal of a loft that is a roost for bats.
The Control of Feral Pigeons as Pests and the Law
A major problem for homeowners and businesses alike are feral pigeons roosting on their property, with the rise in rooftop solar panel systems we have seen a trend where pigeons will nest beneath the panels, building their nests using the panel supports. We carry out a lot of bird control work and the law recently changed regarding the protection of birds.
The protection of wild animals is covered under the Wildlife and Countryside Act, there was a ‘loophole’ built into this Act which was called a General License; this enabled anyone to kill certain species of birds without applying for a specific license. The General Licenses were revoked in 2019 and then reworked and are now issued annually.
The DEFRA General License 35 allows Landowners and authorised persons such as the property owner to humanly kill feral pigeons, take the eggs and destroy the nests. The re-working of the license now states that before resorting to the animal’s destruction reasonable endeavours must be made to achieve the removal of the birds by non-lethal means. This means that our first steps are to look to see what proofing measures can be applied and if we can remove the birds and prevent their return with bird netting or spiking then we have no right to kill the birds.
Other birds are covered under GL 35 and these include the carrion crow, jackdaws, magpies, ring necked parakeets and rooks.