Dealing with pests

image: mouse control

image: waspsNobody likes sharing their home with pests such as rodents or insects.

If you have an infestation problem in your home then this page will tell you what you need to do.

Unless your tenancy agreement or lease says otherwise, it’s your responsibility to remove pests from your home. 

For some pests, you might be able to treat the problem yourself. For other types of pest infestation you may need professional help.

You can check if your local authority has a pest control service here. Most will charge you for this. It’s best to check their website first as not all local authorities deal with all types of pest. There are also private pest control companies, but their fees are likely to be higher.


Can we help with pests coming from a neighbour’s home?

In the first instance we recommend talking to your neighbour and asking them to resolve the issue. If they’re an Optivo resident, we can contact them for you.

If they’re a private resident, you could report it to the local authority and they’ll then contact your neighbour.


What if the pests have damaged your home?

If you’re an Optivo tenant, we’ll arrange to repair any damage to the property caused by pests. We’ll also block any holes the pests have used to get in.

If you cause damage by failing to prevent or treat a pest problem, we may not carry out repairs, or we’ll recharge you the cost of the repairs. 

If you’re in a shared ownership or leasehold flat, we’ll arrange repair of communal areas including the structure of the building (unless your lease says otherwise). 

If you’re in a shared ownership or leasehold house, you are responsible for all repairs. Click here to find out more about the repair responsibilities of homeowners.

If pests have damaged your possessions or furniture, you’re responsible for repair or replacement. You may want to check if your home contents insurance covers damage by pests.

Will we remove pests from communal areas?

Yes we will.

The quickest and easiest way to report pests in communal areas is online using our free MyAccount service. 

There are also a number of other ways you can get in touch

How can you stop pests infesting your home?

Don’t let them in

Block up holes in the brickwork, roof, skirting boards, and floorboards (or ask us to do it, if it’s our responsibility. Check here).

Seal holes around pipework with filler (e.g. wire wool with mastic sealer)

Don’t feed them

Keep your home clean, especially the kitchen. Clean surfaces and floors regularly to remove traces of food and clean up spills immediately.

Don’t leave food (including pet food) or dirty dishes out, particularly overnight.

Store food in sealed containers.

Put rubbish out in sealed bags or bins.

Don’t make them comfy

Don’t leave rubbish and old furniture out. These make a great place for mice and rats to nest. Ask your local council to collect bulky household waste, or take it to the tip yourself.

Rats like lots of water, so they’re attracted to ponds. Avoid providing them with shelter (e.g. a rockery or bushes) around the pond.

Block areas under decking to prevent rats nesting there. Removable panels are handy, so you can check underneath regularly.

Always use a bird table when you feed garden birds, putting the food out of reach of mice or rats.

Keep your garden tidy. An overgrown garden is an attractive place for mice and rats to nest.

Keeps gutters clear. If you notice any damp patches on external walls, you can ask us to check your gutters (as long as we’re responsible for repairs to the building).

Be a good neighbour

Keep communal areas clean and pick up any rubbish (particularly food).

You must take reasonable steps to avoid an infestation of insects, pests or vermin in your home or in the common areas.  If we have to deal with a pest problem that’s come about as a direct result of you failing to take reasonable steps (this includes if you don’t treat an infestation in your home), we may recharge you the cost.

Types of pests

Your home can become infested by a wide range of different creatures, with rodents, insects and birds each bringing their own challenges.

Find out more below:

Mice and rats

Mice and rats spread disease through their urine and droppings. They may also cause damage to your home, including chewing through electrical wires.

You may be able to control mice using traps or poison, which you can usually buy in DIY stores. Always follow the instructions and keep them away from children and pets.

It can be very difficult to get rid of rats yourself, so it’s a good idea to get professional help.


Cockroaches love warm, dark, and humid parts of the home.

They tend to group around pipes, stoves, and sinks and will often stay hidden during the day.

Cockroaches can cause food poisoning and health problems such as asthma and dermatitis. 

You could try using an insecticide spray, but you may need expert help to deal with cockroaches. Always follow the instructions when using insecticide and keep it away from children and pets.


Wasps like to make their nests in sheltered spots.

You’re likely to find wasp nests in areas like bushes, lofts, sheds, wall cavities, and under eaves.

It’s dangerous to go near or disturb a wasp nest, so it’s a good idea to get expert help if it needs removing.

When wasps feel threatened they release a chemical to call for help. While being stung by one wasp isn’t usually dangerous, 30 or 40 stings could kill you.


Bees are endangered, and nests should only be removed if they pose a threat to people nearby. 

You can contact the British Beekeepers’ Association, who may send someone to remove the nest without killing the bees.


If you find ants in your home, try vacuuming them or using an ant spray or powder.

If you still have a problem, you should seek expert help


Flea bites can be itchy and uncomfortable for you and your pets. They might also pass diseases to your pets. 

Prevent and get rid of fleas by regularly using flea treatment for your pets. Speak to your vet for advice on the best products.

If you’ve got an infestation, you’ll need to treat your bedding, furniture, and carpets with a special spray or powder. Get advice from a vet on the best one to use. 

Go to the RSPCA website for more advice.

Dust mites

Dust mites live in mattresses and bedding.

They can make your condition worse if you suffer from eczema, asthma, or other breathing problems.

Dust mites like warm and humid environments.

To keep them under control, wash your bedding regularly at 60°C and try to keep your bedroom cool and well ventilated.


Squirrels can cause a lot of damage in the loft or roof space. They can tear away insulation, damage pipes, and chew through cables.

Prevention is better than cure. It’s best to block any holes with wire mesh, and make sure any missing bricks or roof tiles are replaced.

Placing crushed up mothballs around the loft can also help keep them out.

Red squirrels are a legally protected species. This means you’re not allowed to kill, injure, or capture one, or destroy its shelter. Grey squirrels are not protected.

Hide beetles

Hide beetles live under cookers or fridges, and feed on food scraps.

They aren't a health risk but can cause damage by boring holes in plaster or wood.

You can deal with hide beetles by cleaning infected areas and treating it with a suitable insecticide.

Moths and carpet beetles

Carpet moths and carpet beetles damage woollen carpets or rugs in your home.

You can buy ‘killer kits’ to tackle them from pest control companies.

Tiny holes in your clothing could be a sign that you have an infestation of clothes moths, particularly clothes made of wool and silk.

You can buy moth traps and place them in wardrobes and cupboards where you store your clothes.

Wash all your clothes to kill the eggs.


Nesting birds are protected by legislation, so you’ll have to wait for them to leave then block up any holes to stop them coming back.

If you’re blocking up holes or clearing gutters yourself (if it’s your responsibility), make sure you take appropriate care working at height.

Local authorities may not assist with bird control, so seek professional advice if you’re concerned.


It’s illegal to kill or disturb bats in their roosts.

Contact the Bat Conservation Trust for advice.


Silverfish live in damp environments such as bathrooms.

They don't carry a serious health risk, but they can swarm if you don’t deal with them.

Use an insecticide to kill silverfish, and keep kitchen and bathroom cupboards clean and dry to prevent their return.

Bed bugs

Bed bugs are unlikely to spread disease, but they can cause you irritation and distress. 

Signs of an infestation include:
  • small bugs or tiny white eggs in the crevices and joints of your mattress and furniture – use a bright torch to check for these 
  • bites on your skin 
  • tiny black spots on your mattress 
  • mottled bedbug shells
  • blood spots on your sheets – these can occur if you squash a bug after it has fed 
  • an unpleasant, musty scent in your bedroom.  You may need professional help to get rid of bed bugs. Check your local council’s website to see if they’ll assist. Or contact a company that’s a member of the British Pest Control Association or National Pest Technicians Association.
Professionals can use special treatments such as insecticide, a steamer, or rapid freeze system to get rid of the bugs.

They may also advise you to:
  • wash infested clothes or bed linen at 60C, or put them in a dryer on a hot setting for 30 minutes 
  • use a vacuum cleaner with a hose to suck up any bugs you can see – dispose of the contents of the vacuum cleaner in a sealed bag 
  • consider throwing away any mattress or furniture that's heavily infested 
  • use plastic mattress covers that encase the entire mattress – this will stop any bedbugs getting in or out.

Also in this section: