Bats, Rats and Other Animals . . . 1st Jun 2016

As letting agents who have been in the business for nearly 20 years, we’ve seen it all. Well, not elephants or penguins . . . yet!!

Bats - Work was being done to an extractor fan in a flat in Bo’ness, which created a temporary hole from the bathroom to the outside. And so what do you know, a bat flew in! The alarmed tenant phoned to say ‘HELP, there’s a bat in my bathroom, what do I do?`. We took advice and found out that as bats are a protected species it is best to phone Scottish Natural Heritage’s Bats in Houses helpline, to arrange for a bat worker to come out and deal with the bat. Good to know!

Rats – As UB40 once sang ‘There’s a rat in the kitchen what am I gonna do?` Well, a landlord of ours bought a property in Edinburgh. One of The Key Place staff was visiting the property and heard a noise in the kitchen that sounded like falling masonry. Shortly after this we were called by the tenant as there was a pressure drop in the boiler – when this was investigated further it turned out that rodents had been chomping through the pipes that took the hot water to the radiators; and the falling masonry was actually the wee scrabbling feet of RATS. We got in the Edinburgh Council rat catcher who said that particular area has been infested for years, to the point whereby neighbours had concrete floor laid. The rat catcher did his job (although floorboards had to be lifted to allow him to do this), and the rats left the premises. There has been no recurrence thankfully!

Mice – We have had numerous mouse incidents over the years. The question of who pays – landlord or tenant - often arises with regard to any infestation. We had tenants in Penicuik who looked after the property reasonably well, although on inspections we did have to urge them to clean the kitchen. One of the tenants phoned in a panic – she had seen a mouse! We were slightly suspicious about whether this was down to kitchen conditions and so popped out to visit the property with the tenants’ approval. It was immediately obvious why they had furry visitors - they had not taken their rubbish out - a couple of bin bags were piled in the kitchen, and there were unwashed dishes and some food take away cartons. We explained to the tenants that this was unacceptable and that they would have to pay for the pest control company to come out. We instructed the work, the tenants paid, and the mice went away. On re-inspection, the kitchen was clean and critter free.

Cockroaches – really, and apparently on the increase in Scotland! We manage a top floor flat in Edinburgh city centre. The tenants reported cockroaches – they arrived as a gang, and had soon infiltrated the flat, one of the girls even found a cockroach in the kettle. We sought advice from Edinburgh City Council who said they would not become involved as this was private rented housing. We therefore called a pest control company, who eventually managed to find out that they were living in bags of rice in a ground floor flat, and had marched their way up the entire building. We had to re-home the tenants while the flat was treated, re-treated and cleaned.

The question of responsibility for payment is frequently raised in relation to infestations. Unless it is down to how the tenant is living (eg, not cleaning the house, piling up rubbish etc), then it is the responsibility of the landlord to ensure the property is critter free!  Read our accompanying newsletter article on pests for further information.

So no elephants or penguins yet, but who knows what’s around the corner in the life of a letting agent . . .