Having an ant problem in a rental property often spikes debate about who’s responsible. Should your landlord fix it? Or is it your responsibility as the tenant to get rid of ants?
Unfortunately, there isn’t a straightforward answer. Responsibility can vary depending on what your lease says and what the cause of the ant infestation in the rental property is.
If you’re wondering what to do about your ant situation, we’re here to help!
We’ll answer the most common questions about these pest problems, including who’s responsible, determining the cause, and getting rid of the problem in your home.
Are Ants a Landlord’s Responsibility UK?
Generally, yes, an ant problem in a rental property should be your landlord’s responsibility to deal with in the UK. This is because landlords are responsible for resolving pest problems in their properties.
However, a landlord won’t normally get involved in dealing with a couple of ants in your home, especially if you caused them by leaving crumbs everywhere.
Does a Landlord Have to Deal With Ants?
Even though landlords are responsible for dealing with pest problems, having ants isn’t always considered a “problem”.
Usually, an ant infestation in a rental property, where the creatures have swarmed your kitchen, or have nested in the loft, is considered a problem. Having a couple of ants in one cupboard or around a pile of crumbs on the living room floor isn’t.
Your landlord may be less inclined to help you get rid of ants in the second instance than in the first, especially if it’s your fault the ants have arrived in the first place.
They also don’t technically have a duty to deal with ants when it’s not a problem or if you cause them.
Learn more about a landlord’s responsibility for pests at Citizen’s Advice.
Is it the Landlord’s Responsibility to Pay for Pest Control?
Whether your landlord should (or is responsible to) pay for pest control in the UK depends on various factors.
Your landlord is responsible for keeping the property hospitable, and since having ants isn’t considered clean, they should be responsible for paying for the problem to be fixed.
However, tenants are responsible for caring for the property and playing their part in keeping things clean. This is enshrined in law but should also be laid out within your lease.
If you have caused the ant problem in a rental property, and your landlord can prove it, you can be left liable to arrange and pay for pest control services to get rid of them.
But, if the ant problem already exists in the rental when you move in or has been caused by something outside of your control (like rotting wood on exterior windows), your landlord should be responsible for paying to fix it.
Before notifying your landlord about the problem, you should:
- Consider whether it’s a big problem, like an indoor infestation or nest, or just a couple of ants that can quickly be removed by you
- Consider whether you caused the issue – if you think you didn’t, take pictures of the property being clean or of anything else you can use as evidence against the claim
- Check your lease to see if it stipulates details about when you are and aren’t responsible for pest control
Related article: 10+ Things landlords DON’T want tenants to know
What Causes Ant Infestations?
Ants seem to appear out of nowhere because that’s exactly what they do! Ants are opportunists, so they sneak in whenever they have the opportunity.
To get rid of ants, you need to locate the cause of the infestation, which could be:
1. Crumbs and spilt food
Food is almost always the primary cause of an ant infestation in a rental property. If you regularly drop food on the floor, indoors or around the exterior of your home, ants will seek it out!
This is especially the case if what you’ve dropped is sweet, like honey, sugar, fruit juice, or syrup. But they’ll also be attracted to meats, fats, breadcrumbs, and wrappers that come into contact with these things.
2. Open food in cupboards
Just like food on the floor, ants can also be attracted to the smell of open food in your cupboards.
They can smell the food when they are near open windows or doors and travel long distances to find it. Generally, ants are most attracted to crumbs, sweets, biscuits, or crackers in open cupboards.
3. Damp or rotted wood
Moisture ants are a particular colony that like to build nests in damp or damaged wood. They often target wooden windows, but they have also been known to claim floorboards, loft beams, or doorframes, particularly ones close to windows or entrances.
Usually, they’ll only nest in damp or rotted wood when it’s already slightly damaged. It’s why ant infestations are particularly common shortly after you’ve experienced a leak when floorboards have become wet.
4. Wet or very hot weather
Ants have to get into your home somehow, and open doors/windows are often the only way! Even though they can enter anytime they smell food, ants usually come inside when outside conditions aren’t particularly desirable.
Wet weather or extremely hot outdoor conditions can attract them to your home, so if your windows or doors are open at these times, they could be more likely to take the opportunity to come inside.
Remember, even in an apartment, ants can climb up the side of buildings, onto balconies (especially if there are food crumbs) and enter your home.
How Do You Fix an Infestation of Ants in an Apartment or House?
A non-severe ant infestation in a rental property can be relatively easy to fix on your own, without the need for expensive, professional help.
Usually, the process of removing ants only takes a couple of weeks, depending on how big the problem is.
Here’s a quick and easy step-by-step guide on how to fix an ant infestation in a rental property.
1. Identify the source
Firstly, you need to identify the source of the problem. Try to figure out where the ants are coming from and what is attracting them.
- Are they coming into your home from outside?
- Are they attracted to a particular area of your home?
- Are they taking food back to a nest inside your home, like into a kitchen cupboard or under floorboards?
Once you know why you have ants, you’ll be better able to fix the problem.
2. Clean up mess
Ants are almost always attracted to food, so the first step to getting rid of ants is to get rid of their food source. When you know where the infestation is coming from, you can focus your efforts on the problem area.
If you’re unsure where the ants are coming from, make time to:
- Clean kitchen surfaces of crumbs
- Hoover the floors
- Wipe inside kitchen cupboards
- Hoover crumbs from underneath sofa cushions
- Sweep up food crumbs left outside, on balconies or close to your backdoors
Once you’ve cleaned up, the ants may simply go away on their own, as they will quickly realise there’s no food for them.
3. Leave ant traps
After cleaning away crumbs, you can use ant traps if the problem persists. Two types of traps exist: regular traps and bait ant traps. Both types are relatively inexpensive to buy in the UK.
Regular ant traps are better if you only have a couple of ants entering your home from outside. Bait traps are more beneficial if you suspect you have an infestation and/or a colony inside your home somewhere.
Regular ant traps are usually made of plastic, with a sugary or protein substance and poison inside. These trap the insects and kill them.
Bait traps operate slightly differently. Instead of trapping the ants, they lure worker ants to take the poisonous substance back to feed their colony.
Generally, the traps won’t kill the entire colony but can encourage the ants to vacate your home and forage for food elsewhere.
However, some bait ant traps can kill the queen (who lays the eggs) and the rest of the colony, so be careful using these when the ant infestation isn’t indoors.
4. Get rid of damp wood
Damp wood caused by a leak in your home can attract moisture ants to build a colony. These ants will eat the wood and create tunnels inside it, which can cause major structural damage.
If possible, you need to get rid of the damp wood to remove the ants. If you’re renting a property, your landlord should be responsible for fixing rotting wood issues to eliminate the pest.
5. Seek professional help
If these methods don’t help you get rid of ants in a rental, you can get professional help from a pest control service. This can be particularly helpful if your home is overrun with an ant colony.
Remember, if you have a serious ant problem in a rental property, it should be your landlord’s responsibility to fix it. This is because it classes as a pest problem, which they need to deal with.
Unless it stipulates in your lease that you need to (because, for example, you caused the infestation and the landlord has proof), don’t pay for a professional pest control service if this should fall to your landlord.
Will Ants Go Away On Their Own?
Ants won’t normally go away entirely on their own unless you take away the thing that attracted them in the first place.
For example, if crumbs brought them into your home, cleaning (and keeping things clean) can cause the ants to leave on their own. This is because you will have taken away their food source, so they’ll look for it elsewhere instead.
The same rules apply if the ants are attracted to rotted or damp wood. Removing the wood should mean the ants vacate on their own.
However, you can’t just leave ants to their own devices and expect them to go away. Without removing the source of attraction, the infestation can get worse.
If you’re renting a property and you’ve left an ant problem to get worse, your landlord could charge you for the costs of fixing it.
Related article: How to get your rent deposit back
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