Councils and pest control

Local authorities (councils) are not legally required to provide a pest control service, however, under the Prevention of Damage by Pests Act 1949 they are required to take such steps as may be necessary to secure as far as practicable that their district is kept free from rats and mice. They must, in particular, keep the local authority’s own land, and other land that the local authority occupies, free from rats and mice. They are also required to ensure that other owners and occupiers of land comply with their similar duties under the Act and, in addition, to tell the local authority in writing if it comes to their knowledge that rats or mice are living on or resorting to their land in substantial numbers. (NB. This does not apply to agricultural land.)

Some councils provide a free pest control service to householders for public health pests such as rats, mice, bedbugs and cockroaches but charge for dealing with other pests. Some are now charging even for rats and mice, however, and an increasing number provide no pest control service at all. Most will provide lists of private pest controllers in their areas though.

In the knowledge that charges may deter some householders from using these services, that treating properties individually may be ineffective and that amateur use of poisons is dangerous, the CIEH is seriously concerned about this trend. It has stated that increasing charges for pest control services and/or contracting out the service is inconsistent with local authorities’ public health responsibilities.

To find out if your council provides a pest control service and if so, what it charges for, log on to your council’s website.

Help with identifying household pests can be found on the Natural History Museum website.

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