Can I End My Tenancy Early Because Of Bed Bugs?

sarah ryan
Sarah RyanAccount Manager @ Lawhive & Non-Practising Solicitor
Updated on 31st January 2024

Dealing with bedbugs in your rented accommodation can be a nightmare. From sleepless nights to constant itching, these pests can quickly turn your home into an uncomfortable living space.

ending-a-tenancy-early-because-of-bed-bugs

But what happens if you've had enough and want to end your tenancy early to escape the infestation? In this article, we'll answer:

Can you end a tenancy early because of bed bugs? 

Yes, it is possible to end a tenancy early due to bed bugs. If you're facing a pest problem that isn't being addressed by the landlord, you may have grounds to terminate even a fixed-term tenancy ahead of schedule. This could happen if a clause in your agreement has been violated by the landlord or if the landlord agrees to "surrender the tenancy." 

Can you end a tenancy early because of bed bugs if there’s a clause that makes the tenant responsible for the infestation?

You may still have options to end a tenancy early due to bed bugs, even if there's a clause in the rental agreement making the tenant responsible for the infestation. If your landlord fails to take appropriate action, you can contact your local environmental health department or your local council's housing department. They can inspect the property and issue an enforcement notice if necessary. 

If you have followed all the necessary steps and documented the breach, you may be able to break the tenancy without further obligation. 

To do this, you should be prepared to provide evidence of the breach of the tenancy agreement in case you need to defend your decision in court.

Is a delay in appropriate action considered a breach? 

A delay in taking appropriate action to address a bed bug infestation could be considered a breach of the landlord's, or the tenant, responsibilities.

Landlords have to keep properties in a habitable condition, which includes promptly addressing pest infestations like bed bugs. If the landlord fails to take timely action to resolve the bed bug problem, it could be viewed as a violation of this duty and constitute a breach of the tenancy agreement.

This delay can significantly impact the tenant's living conditions and may violate health and safety standards, providing grounds for the tenant to take further action, such as ending the tenancy early or seeking legal recourse.

What should you do if you discover a bed bug infestation in a rented property?

If you discover a bed bug infestation, or any pest infestation, in your rented property, it's essential to take action promptly, especially since your landlord is responsible for ensuring habitability. Here's what you should do:

Contact Your Landlord

Make a written complaint to your landlord about the bed bug infestation. Inform them that the issue is making your home unfit to live in, impacting your health, or preventing you from fully using the property.

Your landlord should take steps to address the problem, such as arranging repairs or scheduling a visit from pest control. They may hire a pest control company or contact the council for assistance.

Negotiate or Escalate

If your landlord fails to address the issue after your complaint, you can try negotiating with them to reach a compromise. However, if your landlord still refuses to make repairs, you may need to escalate the matter to the environmental health department at the council. They can inspect the property and issue enforcement notices if necessary.

Check Your Tenancy Agreement

Review your tenancy agreement to see if it includes a 'break clause.' This clause allows you to terminate your fixed-term tenancy early under certain conditions. If the break clause applies and specifies the terms for termination, you may have the option to end the tenancy due to the bed bug infestation.

Is it a landlord's responsibility to remove bed bugs? 

Landlords have certain responsibilities regarding bedbug infestations in rental properties. 

If a certified pest control provider confirms that a tenant moved into an already infested property, the landlord must pay for bed bug treatment. This is because landlords have a legal obligation to provide habitable living conditions. 

If an assessment shows a significant bed bug problem that likely existed for 2-3 months, it’s likely a pre-existing issue. Given bed bugs’ slow reproductive cycle, it’s hard for landlords to argue that a new tenant causes the infestation. Therefore, they must address pre-existing bed bug problems, regardless of when they’re discovered during a tenancy. 

When are tenants responsible for dealing with a bed bug infestation? 

Once tenants sign a tenancy agreement, they agree to care for the property. So, if bed bugs appear quite a while after moving in, it’s usually the tenants' job to deal with them. 

If a tenant doesn’t tell the landlord about the bed bugs right away and the problem gets worse as a result, they’re responsible for getting rid of them. 

How to end a tenancy early using a break clause?

If you have a bed bug infestation in your rental property and you want to end the tenancy early, you may be able to use a break clause if it’s included in your tenancy agreement. 

Break clauses specify the conditions under which you can end a tenancy early. So, your first port of call should be to locate the break clause and look at the terms, including any notice periods and conditions that must be met for it to be activated.

If you decide you do want to end the tenancy early, you should follow the procedures outlined in the break clause, giving your landlord the appropriate notice. You should also make sure you fulfill any conditions in the break clause, like paying rent arrears or carrying out repairs as required. 

If you encounter any difficulties or uncertainties regarding the break clause or its implementation, it’s a good idea to get legal advice from a tenancy solicitor

Get expert advice from Lawhive 

When tenants and landlords know their responsibilities and promptly address issues, both parties can ensure a swift resolution to bed bug infestations and maintain a positive landlord-tenant relationship. 

If you’re dealing with a bed bug infestation in your rental property and need legal advice, contact Lawhive today.

Our expert team of landlord and tenant solicitors can help you understand your rights and responsibilities, whether you’re a tenant or landlord. Contact us today for a free case evaluation and no-obligation quote. 

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