Fleas in a rented property can cause a big headache for landlords. It is very common for landlords to prohibit their tenants from keeping pets in a rented property, and even those who do allow pets will usually require the tenant to obtain their permission first. The reason for this is that pets can damage property, for example, cats and dogs can scratch carpets and door frames. Preventing pets also reduces the risk of a flea infestation which can be costly and difficult to remedy.
Despite the rules, many tenants do keep a pet even when their tenancy agreement prevents it. It is not uncommon for landlords and agents to find evidence of pets when they inspect a property. Even if the tenant manages to clean up well and hide the pet during interim inspections they will not be able to hide a flea infestation when they move out.
Of course, landlords will take a deposit at the outset of the tenancy and would hope to be able to recover the costs of any infestation treatment from the deposit monies if the tenant refuses to pay. However, the landlord must be able to prove that the infestation occurred during the tenancy and that no infestation was present when the tenant moved in. Accurate check-in inventory reports, signed by the tenant, are essential to record the condition of the property at the outset.
In a recent case which went to adjudication, the landlord was claiming the cost of flea control treatment from the tenant’s deposit monies. The landlord had allowed the tenant to keep a cat, on condition that the tenant was responsible for any damage caused by the cat and the cost of any infestation treatment. The landlord was able to produce a check-in report showing that the property was clear of infestation, and a checkout report and evidence from the pest control contractor as to the infestation at the end of the tenancy. The landlord was successful in recovering the cost, but the outcome would have been very different without the evidence from the inventory reports.
Pets will get fleas no matter how careful an owner is. Vigilance and regular, effective flea treatments are vital. If a tenant treats their pet for fleas at the intervals recommended by their vet and pays close attention to the cleanliness of their home, it is unlikely that a flea problem will get out of control. However, fleas reproduce quickly so if a pet owner lets down their guard a small issue can very quickly become a major problem and may even mean that carpets and soft furnishings, where fleas like to lay their eggs, need to be replaced.
Anyone inspecting a property should be looking carefully for signs of infestation, in particular checking the carpets, soft furnishings and curtains for fleas, their eggs and flea dirt. Flea dirt looks like small specks of ground pepper.
It is vital to have full, professionally prepared inventory reports on each and every property before the tenant is allowed into occupation. If you discover a flea infestation on check out, the check-in inventory report can be used as evidence to show that there was no flea infestation when the tenant moved in and that therefore the infestation occurred during their tenancy. Just as important as obtaining the tenant’s agreement to the inventory report during the check-in process, a full check out report should be made as soon as possible after the tenant moves out. The longer the check out report is left, the more difficult it is to prove that any infestation arose during the tenancy period.
The check-in report is also essential if a tenant claims that there is a flea problem in the property. If you can prove that the property was free of flea infestation on check-in, the costs of remedial treatment fall to the tenant. On the other hand, if a tenant moves into a property with an existing flea problem then the landlord will need to meet the costs of the flea control contractor.
InventoryBase’s innovative property inventory software allows full, professional check-in and check out reports to be prepared quickly and easily shared with the tenant.
Digital signatures can be obtained, and it is straightforward to add comments and extra photographs to the property record. Property inspection is vital, and the records produced as a result must be as detailed and complete as possible in case they are required in the future to help resolve a dispute.