Your legal dilemmas solved by Philippa Rudd, partner with Cozens-Hardy solicitors
We have recently moved into our new home, which is an old farmhouse. Everything was perfect until we discovered that we seem to have inherited a few unwelcome guests from the previous owners. The carpets are riddled with fleas and we are all itching like crazy. Can our solicitor do anything?
The concept of ‘caveat emptor’ still applies. This means ‘let the buyer beware’. You should have inspected the property carefully before buying it. If the previous owner had lots of cats, you could have asked your solicitor to enquire about the presence of fleas; however, this is not a normal pre-contract enquiry. Likewise, your surveyor would not have checked for fleas. I suggest you make contact with Pest Control Services at your council.
It gets worse. I think we have bats in the loft. I am terrified of them and we have recently been able to hear them moving around. Can I send my husband up to the loft with a tennis racket to shoo them away?
No! Bats and their roosts are protected by law. You will be committing a criminal offence if you injure or kill a bat or disturb its roost. You could be fined up to £5,000 or face up to six months in prison for breach of this law. Bats will not necessarily be in the roof void. Depending on the species they might be under hanging tiles on the front of the house, or under the roof tiles. Most bats are seasonal visitors to roosts in houses – they are unlikely to live in that roost all year round, although they are loyal to their roosts and so usually return to the same roosts year after year. I suggest you contact The Bat Conservation Trust who will be able to advise you as to how to live with the bats.
*Philippa’s on 01603 625231