How to beat a plague of pests in your home

Posted by Big Rat on Campus on Aug 10, 2013 in Rat Answers | Subscribe

By
Sally Hamilton

16:05 EST, 10 August 2013


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16:05 EST, 10 August 2013

Clean-up: David Piper says landlords will not always pay to remove pests

Clean-up: David Piper says landlords will not always pay to remove pests

If you can hear scratching in the attic or buzzing in the chimney then you probably have unwanted guests – and getting rid of them is likely to bite a hole in your pocket.

If pests cause damage, such as squirrels eating through electric wires in your roof space or a mouse nibbling through a plastic pipe, your household insurance is unlikely to cover the repair bills. Graeme Trudgill, executive director at the British Insurance Brokers’ Association, says: ‘Most policies will have exclusions for damage by vermin – and even pet damage as well.’

Some insurers will cover the cost of damage if you pay extra. Endsleigh, for example, covers vermin damage as part of a £40-a-year Home Emergency add-on to its home policy, which also meets the cost of eradicating pests. 

Others will pay for getting rid of certain beasts, even if meeting any repair bills is down to you.

Esure,
for example, has an optional add-on to its home policy for £22.99 a
year that will cover removing infestations of rats, mice, grey
squirrels, wasps, bees and hornets up to £150  per claim and £200 for
bed bug  treatments.

Landlords
– and their tenants – often struggle with unwanted pests but it is not
always clear who is responsible.  David Piper, a professional bee-keeper
and wasp nest eradicator from Benfleet in Essex, says:  ‘Theoretically
the landlord is responsible but they may argue any pests are down to
tenants leaving food lying around or having poor hygiene skills.’

Some insurers will remove certain infestations as a standard part of a specialist landlord policy.  AXA, for example, will cover wasp, bee or hornets’ nests up to £250 per claim.

Until recently, councils offered free or low-cost help with overcoming common infestations. But local government spending cuts have put an end to this.

Bob Mayho, chairman of the National Pest Advisory Panel, says: ‘Under the Prevention of Damage By Pests Act 1949, local authorities are required to keep their land and districts free of rats and mice, but this is freely interpreted.

CAREFUL WITH POISON… YOU COULD BE FINED

SQUIRRELS: David Cross, head of the technical training academy at Rentokil, says: ‘You can trap squirrels humanely but then you must not just let them go free in the local woods. There is a legal requirement to kill them but you cannot just drown them, for example.  Get a professional to do it.’

BATS: They are a protected species so take care not to affect them or their habitat while getting rid of other pests. If you kill one, even by accident, you risk a fine of £5,000 per bat. Cross says: ‘Ignorance is no defence.’

WASPS: You can kill them using pesticide but it could mean coming face to face with the nest, which grows dramatically between April and September. Cross says: ‘Do it in the evening when wasps are less active.’

BLACK GARDEN ANTS: More of a nuisance than a danger. Keep sweet foods covered up and put away dirty dishes immediately to stop the ants being tempted in to the house.

HONEY BEES: It is illegal to poison any kind of bee, with steep fines likely. Beekeeper David Piper says: ‘If you have honey bees in a chimney and you poison them other bees will come to get the honey and they will take poisoned honey back to their own nest.’ Find a pest controller from the National Pest Technicians Association at  npta.org.uk. The British Pest Control Association has an A-Z of pests at bpca.org.uk. Find out more at urbanpestsbook.com.

‘Some see it as keeping council properties free of rats and mice while others view it as the whole district. Very few now provide pest control services for free except for council tenants. It means two neighbouring authorities will have different services and charges.’

Wandsworth Council in London, for example, charges £88 to eradicate rats, mice or squirrels and a minimum of £199 to eliminate bed bugs – although council tenants get many treatments free.

 


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At next door Lambeth, council tenants pay nothing, but others pay £100 (£150 out of business hours) to get rid of most pests and between £58 and £78 to remove wasp nests.

At nearby Southwark, the charge for rodents is £91.51, bed bugs £136.57 and wasps £61.28, although these prices are halved for those on benefits and the services are free for council tenants.

Piper says wasps and fleas are currently keeping him busiest.  He says: ‘Because of the late spring, wasp nests are small but by next month there could be 10,000 wasps in a nest.’ Rentokil, whose typical wasp treatment costs about £100 depending on the nest’s location, says its specialists will do a free survey first and offer advice on how to keep the creatures at bay.

Pests: A couple of mice running around a property may not actually affect a mortgage application

Pests: A couple of mice running around a property may not actually affect a mortgage application

JAPANESE KNOTWEED

A couple of mice running around a property may repel squeamish buyers but their presence may not actually affect a mortgage application. The same cannot be said for a property where Japanese knotweed is flourishing in the garden.

Many lenders will run a mile at the mere mention of this invasive plant.

‘The problem is really growing,’ says David Hollingworth of mortgage broker London Country. ‘Many big lenders, such as Skipton, will reject applications automatically, while others such as Nationwide take a more pragmatic approach.’

Nationwide is following new guidance from the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), which says that if the  plant is within seven metres of a property the borrower will need to produce a report on how they plan to eradicate it, including an insurance backed warranty against it reappearing. If the plant is beyond seven metres they have to confirm in writing that they are aware of the problem.

Problem: Many lenders will run a mile at the mere mention of Japanese knotwood (pictured)

Problem: Many lenders will run a mile at the mere mention of Japanese knotwood (pictured)

Knotweed is particularly rampant around Swansea and West Glamorgan, dubbed the knotweed capital of the UK.

Alert to the needs of would-be borrowers, Swansea Building Society takes a practical approach, checking that an eradication programme by a licensed contractor is in place. Hollingworth says: 

‘Being a small society, the valuer may get on the phone to discuss it further with a borrower. It’s not always a “yes” but it takes a more enlightened approach.’

Graham Ellis, associate director of the RICS, recommends using surveyors with local knowledge about knotweed or other pests.  He says:  ‘In parts of Buckinghamshire there is a problem with a squirrel-like rodent called the glis glis. They can be got rid of, but only by pest controllers who are licensed to trap them as they are protected.’

Article source: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/money/bills/article-2388694/How-beat-plague-pests-home--biting-hole-pocket.html?ITO=1490&ns_mchannel=rss&ns_campaign=1490

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