Who is Responsible for Pest Infestations in Apartments?

Home Legislation Who is Responsible for Pest Infestations in Apartments?
Who is Responsible for Pest Infestations in Apartments - Owl Pest Control
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Pest Infestations in Apartments

Pests in apartments have become a regular issue in all new developments in Dublin. Mice infestations are the most notorious example, as they can easily travel through risers and walls’ insulation. When residents see mice droppings in their kitchen units they often contact the Property Management Company and assume they should bear the cost of clearing the infestation.

In fact, there are a variety of ways by which a mouse can end up in an apartment, some of which may be caused by the resident: it could have walked through an open door or walked underneath
a door at ground level, and then made its way to a particular apartment (generally on the upper floors). But most of the time mice access the building through little holes left open at ground level.

Preventative rodent monitoring and treatments in the outdoor common areas or service ducts are usually not sufficient to compensate for building proofing issues.

rodent-rat-mice-access-to-apartment-blocks

Mice are by nature very inquisitive. They walk over 200 metres per day. Most importantly they suffer from hypothermia and die with temperatures below 12°C. During cold days and nights they try to get indoors by any means, regardless of the number of bait points outdoors and the frequency of routine inspections carried out by the pest control contractor.

While preventative treatments in the common areas prevent rodent settlements (i.e. burrows/nests) in theses areas, they cannot prevent scavenging rodents from entering the perimeter of a property and gaining immediate access to an apartment through gaps left in the structure of a building.

Similarly, pests such as cockroaches, carpet beetles or moths can be carried into a building with food packaging, luggage or through open windows. If they are left untreated they can cause an infestation.

Property Managers - Common Practice

Property Managers do not routinely accept liability for an infestation in the private parts of a property. Similar to a very comprehensive insurance, the cost of management fees would be substantially
inflated if pest prevention protection was to cover private areas as well as common areas. It is a more economic option to advise residents to pay for call-outs in their apartment only when they need it. It is indeed possible that there may not be an infestation in an apartment for 20 or 30 years, so why paying if the problem never occurs?

On the other hand, the Management Company would find it very useful to record regular occurrences of any infestations in apartments. Should mice infestations become regular in a particular block, it would be beneficial for example to organise a “pest proofing structural survey” of the building to determine mice entry points and get them blocked.

"Pest Liability" - Common vs Private Areas

From what was just discussed above, it must be made clear to residents that Pest Control programmes and routine inspections cover and are only undertaken in accessible areas, i.e. Common areas and not Private areas.

From a strictly legal point of view, most contracts between Property Management Companies and residents make this distinction between private and common areas. Property managers are responsible for maintenance issues in common areas and each resident is responsible for maintenance in their own private apartment. But this is not always understood by residents when it comes to pests.

dripping Tap

In the case of plumbing issues, for instance, everyone accepts simple rules: if a water pipe leaks in a corridor or duct the Property Management will fix it and if a tap or pipe leaks in the apartment it is for the owner to repair it (even if the water travels through the common areas in the first place!). If these rules were understood for Pest Control in Properties there would be no ambiguity.

If pests enter an apartment it is because they have been brought in or there are proofing issues in the apartment, which is a problem that must be resolved by the owner of the property or in some cases the tenant. 

All Pest Control contracts cover only the common areas, i.e. if rodenticides must be used outdoors, in ducts, boiler rooms, car parks, bin sheds, etc. it is part of the contract. But if the pest controller passes the entrance door of an apartment to reach behind a sink, a balcony, or wall and ceiling cavity it will be outside the terms of the contract with the management Company and a call-out charge will occur.

Designing a Pest Control contract that would include treatments of all insects and rodent infestations in the apartments would be very costly and is unnecessary in most cases. It is not practical to ask all residents bear the cost of “potential” infestations indoors for years if these infestations rarely or even never occur.

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