Barry Daly, Property Manager at Pastor Real Estate offers some interesting (and disturbing) tales of pest infestation in expensive houses in London…
“Unfortunately we have had a few pest issues to deal with this year, although thankfully these issues are rare if properties are properly ‘proofed’ and tenants are educated on how to avoid attracting vermin into the property. Fortunately, we do have a very reliable pest control company that we can call on to attend urgently in such instances, usually same day attendance when we have an issue to report to them and in one instance they arrived within the hour to deal with a bed bug issue.
One of our flats unfortunately had a bed bug issue which started as a minor problem in the master bedroom bed; we are still unclear as to how it originated and if the tenant themselves unknowingly brought the problem into the flat via their luggage or clothes.
Bed bugs were noted on the mattress and our specialist pest control company attended within the hour to carry out a spray treatment to kill all bugs. They returned for two follow up treatments, spraying the whole flat. Unfortunately, despite extensive spraying and treatments, the issue persisted and spread throughout the flat, with the landlord left with no choice but to carry out an extreme ‘heat treatment’, where a large tent was erected in the living room of the flat and all furniture and clothing placed inside and heated to an extremely high temperature, which no bugs could survive.
This did the trick and resolved the issue for good, although in the end it costed the landlord over £4,000 between various treatments and furniture replacements in the flat. As we could not prove if the tenant caused the issue or not, the landlord was left to foot the bill.
Mice (and Rats)
In PCL it is almost impossible to avoid rodents, especially for residences on the ground or lower ground floors. So many flats, although beautifully refurbished and finished, are located in older period and listed buildings, which have numerous crevices and old pipework where rodents can enter easily. We do advise all our landlords to check behind kitchen cabinets and bathroom pipework to ensure any cracks and holes in the walls and floors are filled in with rodent proof metal grilling or concrete. Tenants are well advised to also keep all foodstuffs in sealed containers to avoid attracting rodents.
One of our flats this year had an infestation of mice while the tenant was away on holiday. The tenant came home to find food and seeds all over their kitchen floor and food packaging had been eaten through.
We immediately called in a contractor to seal any possible entry points to the flat, mainly holes behind the kitchen cabinets. ‘Bait boxes’ were also placed discreetly throughout the flat with poison inside.
Thankfully, immediately after the holes were located and filled behind the kitchen units, we had no more mice issues in the flat. We noted that our let and managed flat, on the first floor of the building, was bypassed by the mice once any holes had been filled, with the ground floor and second floor flats continuing to have issues as their premises had not been appropriately ‘mouse-proofed’.
Other pest infestation issues
On one of my property inspections which I carry out regularly on our managed properties, I was very surprised to open the door of the living room to discover a number of snakes inside, thankfully contained in boxes and reptile tanks being kept as pets of the tenant, but quite a surprise and technically in breach of the tenancy agreement as generally we do not allow pets of any kind in our properties.
Thankfully, pest infestation does not happen regularly; it is very rare for rodent issues to occur in properties on higher floors. It is, however, essential that properties are properly ‘proofed’ to avoid such problems, and tenants must be very careful to store food and rubbish sensibly and well contained so as not to encourage a pest problem in their premises.”
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