This article will give advice on what to do to if you believe or know that you have a pest problem in your property.

There are many reasons why pests may enter your property, this includes; food being left out, open rubbish, lack of cleanliness in the home etc., so to avoid a pest problem, ensure that your property is cleaned regularly, food is put away and rubbish is not left out in the open.

If you do believe there is a pest problem in your property, alert your landlord or hall’s manager immediately.

RATS

How do I know if I have rats?

If you believe that you have rats in your property, there will be telltale signs:

  • Visual sighting – rats will be MUCH larger than mice and have considerably thicker tails.

  • Droppings – normally bullet-shaped and between 8mm and 25mm long

  • Possible footprints or tail marks in dust and dark smears on bottom of walls from the grease and dirt on the rat’s coat

  • Holes or burrows outside, maybe accompanied by earth or debris

  • Large chew/gnaw marks on woodwork or damage to property

  • Damage or disappearance of food

  • Scratching noises (although mice, squirrels or birds can also cause such noises)

Why might I have rats?

  • There are many reasons. Rats are searching for food, water and warmth, and at times may enter properties or pass through gardens to find these resources.

  • Rubbish bags not contained in bins also offer a food source to rats.

  • Holes, damaged air bricks, redundant pipes or damaged drainage systems can give access for rodents into your property, particularly where disused drain pipes have been removed.

What should I do?

  • If you believe you have rats, get professional help immediately and contact your landlord. Rats are usually the responsibility of the landlord to sort out - double-check for any clauses in your tenancy agreement though first.

  • It is very important to control rats, not only because of the damage they may cause and the food they spoil through droppings and urine causing food to become contaminated, but also because they transmit disease (some of which are transferable to humans) as they live and breed in sewers.

  • If you have had rats in your home, you must use an anti-bacterial cleaning agent and hot water (don’t forget to wear rubber gloves to keep your hands and skin covered) to clean all surfaces before further food preparation, general walking around etc.

  • Maintain cleaning up all food and rubbish throughout your home - don’t forget bedroom bins too.

  • Keep food supplies safe and in sealed containers away from possible access points.

  • Call Portsmouth City Council and they will treat the problem. There is no charge for this service as a tenant as the cost is paid by the landlord, so it is advisable to speak to your landlord before calling the council as they might know another pest control service they would prefer to use.

MICE

How do I know if I have mice?

You may have found mice in your property or you may think you have them due to signs that indicate that they are in your home:

  • Droppings (very small pellets)

  • Evidence of your food being eaten or damaged food items found in the home

  • Scratching noises or marks may be found around the property

Why might I have mice?

House mice (the most common mouse) come into our homes because it can provide them with all the things they need, such as warmth and easy food opportunities. Lots of properties right across Portsmouth have mice at one time or another as they do travel around to find suitable places to live!

If you leave food easily accessible about your kitchen or home, it can attract mice. They can gain access through the smallest of gaps (pencil width!).

What should I do?

Mice do not carry the same diseases as rats and are seen as less threatening, however they are still hazardous.

Check your tenancy agreement to see who is responsible for dealing with pests. If it clearly states responsibility, then you either need to deal with them or, inform your landlord straight away.

If there is no specific information about who is responsible, it is generally down to the tenants to resolve the mouse issues but the landlord should take reasonable steps to prevent mice accessing the house again e.g. blocking any holes.

If you have mice, you need to act quickly as if you have only one mouse, it doesn’t take long for them to bring their mates and then breed extremely quickly too! Luckily, they are easy to deal with.

Here are some general tips in order to help you get rid of mice:

  • It’s advisable to use both traps and poison in case the mice avoid the traps. Use bait such as peanut butter or chocolate spread on the bait point of the traps so the mice have to climb onto the trap to get it. If the food is solid e.g. chocolate pieces, they will steal it! FYI, cheese does not work #mousemyth

  • It’s not recommended to use the humane traps as when you release the mice back out into wild, there is a strong chance they will return.

  • Ensure you read all safety requirements fully concerning poisons and always wear rubber gloves when laying poison.

  • If you catch a mouse or have to remove one if it is poisoned, always wear rubber gloves when touching them. Dispose of your gloves in the same bag as the mouse - double-bag in plastic supermarket bags and put in the general rubbish bin. Take your rubbish bin out once done as you don’t want a dead mouse in there until collection day. If you are a bit worried about touching them, use a dustpan and brush.

  • Portsmouth City Council will treat mice problems with poison, which is contained in tamper-resistant boxes/bags and placed out of sight (for example at the back of cookers or fridges or under units) so that it is out of harm's’ way.

  • There is a charge for mice treatment service from the council. The charge will either be passed to the tenants of the property or the landlord. Tenants will only be charged for the treatment of mice problems if it states this in the tenancy agreement. The council will ask to see a copy of the agreement.

In order to prevent mice coming into your house or returning to it once you have gotten rid of them, general measures to take are:

  • Washing all surfaces with an antibacterial agent before and after any food preparation.

  • Clear away food and do not leave crumbs about to attract the mice - this includes bedrooms and lounge spaces too.

  • Check your cupboards for possible gaps/access and move any accessible foodstuffs.

  • Food should be placed in sealed containers and cupboards always cleaned.

  • Make sure rubbish is disposed of properly and do not leave food packets in bedroom bins.

  • Always keep kitchens clean and ensure rubbish is disposed of correctly and securely.

  • Tip - all this cleaning will also help when it comes to getting your deposit returned in full at the end of your tenancy!

  • Ensure any small gaps/holes are blocked throughout the house with wire wool or tinfoil - mice won’t chew on metal texture things like this as it hurts their teeth. If there are larger holes, instruct your landlord to remedy them as quickly as possible - this will also prevent your house being too draughty as well!

  • Also check that any external defects that can cause access (broken pipes, broken air bricks etc) are fixed. If they are not, again instruct your landlord to get them fixed.

  • Landlords will be keen to keep their houses well maintained so always let them know about defects such as holes, broken pipes etc.


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