What to do if you discover an infestation in your home

Lucy Graudus
Written by Lucy Graudus

It doesn’t matter how clean your home is, disrepair and structural issues can result in a flurry of unwelcome guests. Infestations can spread diseases, damage your home and belongings, sting or bite and aggravate asthma, eczema and other allergies.

What are the most common culprits?


Ants can come into your home in search of food. If you discover ants in your home, you can tackle them using an insecticidal spray. Try and treat the nest if you can find it – you may find it by following the trail of ants. If you can’t see the nest, treat all entry points to your home (such as doors, windows and drains), and the ants should carry the insecticide back to the nest.


Most bats are seasonal visitors to buildings but do usually return to the same roosts year after year.  These animals are protected by law: it’s illegal to kill, injure or capture a bat or to deliberately disturb its home. If bats from a roost in your roof are consistently finding their way into the living area of your home, please contact the Bat Helpline.


Wasps are one of Britain’s most feared and potentially aggressive pests. They are known for their nasty stings and seemingly unprovoked attacks. In reality, they’ll only attack a person if they feel threatened. If disturbed, they can swarm and may attack. If you discover a nest, don’t go near it. Call the council, who can send round an expert to deal with the problem.

Bed bugs

Bed bugs are nocturnal, only coming out at night to feed, which makes them difficult to spot. High levels of hygiene, deep cleaning and the use of DIY bed bug spray products can help to get rid of bed bugs. Professional treatment is often needed to successfully treat an infestation as it’s difficult to get rid of bed bugs completely by yourself.

Mice and rats

Mice and rats spread disease through their urine and droppings. You can keep them under control yourself using traps or poison, which you can buy in most DIY stores. A cat is also an effective deterrent! If you find evidence of rats in your home, you should call in the council or a pest control firm to deal with them immediately.

Take at a look at our guide to dealing with household pests for details on how to handle other infestations too, including moths and squirrels. For more serious outbreaks, you should contact the council’s environmental health department or a local pest control firm.

So, who’s responsibility is it – yours or your landlord’s?

Private tenants

Your landlord may claim that the infestation is your responsibility, especially in the case of fleas brought in by a household pet or mice attracted by food and rubbish.

If the problem is caused by disrepair, for example, damp conditions which encourage cockroaches, you should report this to your landlord as soon as possible.

Council tenants

If you can’t deal with the problem yourself, report it to the council as soon as possible.

What if the pests are coming from next door?

You may suspect that your neighbours are responsible for attracting pests into the area. Your first step should be to talk to your neighbours or try talking to their landlord. We have some helpful advice on dealing with antisocial behaviour.

If this doesn’t work, you can contact the council’s environmental health department, who can help you resolve the problem.

What should you do if the council say they can’t help you?

If the environmental health department refuses to take action, you might be able to raise an action in the sheriff court yourself. Bear in mind, this process can be complicated, slow and expensive.

You may also be able to challenge the council’s decision not to take action by way of judicial review. Our Advice Services can help guide you through this complicated process.

You may also be able to make a complaint to the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman.

What should you do if the problem can’t be resolved?

If you rent your home and the infestation can’t be controlled, you may have no option but to move out. In this situation, your landlord can’t expect you to stay put until your lease is up, because your home is no longer habitable due to infestation.

If you can’t find anywhere else to live, you can make a homeless application to the council’s housing department. The council can class you as homeless if it’s not reasonable for you to stay in your current accommodation because of pests which pose a health risk.

If the problem is particularly severe, you may be entitled to compensation.