Landlords have been urged to protect their properties against bed bugs with regular inspections.
Daniel Evans, chair of the Association of Independent Inventory Clerks, says dealing with any infestation early is crucial.
Evans says that although commonly known as bedbugs, these pests don’t limit their activities to mattresses: according to the NHS, they can make their homes in sofas, curtains, behind pictures and under wallpaper.
And although their bites are not considered dangerous, they can be itchy and leave their victim covered in red spots. They enter properties on clothing or in bags or luggage and once in they multiply quickly - a single bedbug can produce hundreds of offspring in a few months.
“The risk with rented properties is that the owner isn’t on the premises very often. It could be a few weeks before a tenant realises that the property has been infested and by then the problem will be far worse. No property is safe from pests – but the earlier you can tackle the problem, the better.”
Manchester, Leicester, Bristol and London are reported to have the worst bedbug problem in the UK but other cities including Newcastle, Liverpool, Birmingham and Glasgow are said to have had higher than average infestations.
Evans says that irrespective of who is formally responsible for the bugs’ arrival and handling, it is landlords who have a duty of care to their tenants.
He adds: “A thorough inspection at check-in can ensure that the property is safe before tenants move in and regular checks throughout the rental term can ensure the home is free from bedbugs and other pests that infest properties like rats, mice or cockroaches.”
“If they’re spotted at check-in, inventory clerks will gather photographic evidence which will be sent to the landlord who can then alert pest control. If they appear mid-term, it may be the tenant’s responsibility but the important thing is that any infestation is caught early before too much damage is done.”
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