Valmor 'Bed bug murder' label

There are pests in my tower block

There are several pests which can be common in tower blocks. These include:

  • mice/rats
  • fleas
  • cockroaches
  • moths
  • bedbugs
  • silverfish

It’s important to take action when there’s an infestation, and even more so within a tower block where the pests can easily spread from flat to flat. The earlier you deal with it, the easier it will be.

What does the law say?

Your landlord is responsible for ensuring that your flat is ‘fit for habitation‘. Pests of all kinds might be a risk to human health, and if they are causing ill health or might do so, your landlord must do something about them. 

It is your responsibility as a tenant to make sure you are not doing anything that encourages pests, such as leaving food uncovered or keeping pets without treating them for fleas.

See also the more advanced information at the foot of this page.

A real life example

The story of how the North Peckham estate came together to insist on action against pests.

A diagram of the different stages of a cockroach's lifecycle, 1908

What action can I take?

What to do first

  • Check that your living conditions are not attracting the pests. Make sure your food is tightly stored away, and rubbish is contained in bins. If you have a pet, they should be regularly treated for fleas.
  • Chat with your neighbours to find out whether they are affected by the same issue. If so, you may all need to tackle it at once for any action to be effective.
  • Contact your landlord and notify them of the problem. They may make any repairs required, or they might call in a pest control service.

Not sure what to say? There’s a letter you can copy here.

  • If you have a moth infestation, it is your responsibility to deal with it. There is a range of moth products in most hardware shops and lots of advice online.
  • You could ask the Environmental Health department of your local council to assess your home. They have the power, in some circumstances, to take enforcement action. See more advanced information below.

Read more about contacting Environmental Health.

If that doesn’t work

It may be time to get organised. You could join or start a resident’s action group, which allows you to work together to get things changed. See the case study below for an example of how one group got rid of cockroaches in their estate.

You might also consider getting the media interested, contacting your representatives or escalating your complaint.

Further information

  • The Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2018 amended the law which was already set out in the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985, so you might need to look at section 9A to 10 of the 1985 Act for the basic detail that underlies the current rules.
  • The Housing Health and Safety Rating System can be enforced by you through the Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2018 or by Environmental Health unless your landlord is the local authority.

    Even if your landlord is the local authority, there is a duty on the local housing authority (LHA) under the Housing Act 2004 to keep housing conditions in their area under review with a view to identifying any action that may need to be taken by them under the Act (section 3(1)).

    Any deficiencies identified will contribute to a hazard under the Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS). This does not exclude the LHA’s own property.

Links to read

Related guides

A woman throwing paper planes A woman throwing paper planes

Tools you can use

Contacting your landlord

Tips and letter templates to help you communicate with your landlord when there’s something wrong, or you want to find out more.
A letter box. Image by Dele Oke A letter box. Image by Dele Oke

Tools you can use

Contacting your local councillor or MP

Your elected representatives, like MPs and Councillors, can help you with your housing issues. Here’s information on how to get in touch.
Two people in front of a wrold map. One is filming the other in an interview. Two people in front of a wrold map. One is filming the other in an interview.

Tools you can use

Contacting the media

Sometimes, if you’re not getting results through any other means, it can help to get some coverage in the local – or even national – press.
Two women discussing over a laptoip. Image by WOCintechchat Two women discussing over a laptoip. Image by WOCintechchat

Tools you can use

Starting or joining a Residents’ Association or an Action Group

Joining together with other residents in your block or community can make you much more powerful.
Image by Andrew Buchananan - paint flaking off a wall Image by Andrew Buchananan - paint flaking off a wall

Guide

There’s damp or mould in my flat

Damp and mould do more than ruin the look of your flat: they can also cause health problems. It is your landlord’s responsibility under law to ensure that your home is safe to live in.
Two doors with a staircase between them. Photo by Nick Chalkiadakis Two doors with a staircase between them. Photo by Nick Chalkiadakis

Tools you can use

Making a formal complaint

If you have made a request to your landlord and you’re not getting results, then what can you do next to get things fixed?

Image credits