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A Landlord’s Guide to Identifying Pests

The majority of pests are difficult to spot out in the open, but there are ways to identify them by the clues they leave behind.

The most notable signs are the droppings. It can sometimes be difficult to spot gnaw marks, scratches on furniture and other subtle pest signs, especially if you don’t know what pest you’re dealing with. Pest dropping identification guides will help you pinpoint the pest that’s causing you problems.

Aside from droppings, there are other ways you can spot a pest infestation. We’ve detailed signs for landlords to lookout for when it comes to pest problems, take a look below for the differences between interior and exterior pests.

For an in-depth look at the 3 common pests that occupy the interior, exterior and interior/exterior areas of properties, read our identification guide below:


This is where the pest problems begin. Finding pests inside your property is never a good sign and usually indicates poor hygiene, or problems with the exterior of your property. Below are the three common pests you’re likely to spot inside your property:


Bed bugs are more common than you’d think. In fact, many people aren’t aware they have bed bugs until the infestation becomes far worse. As their name suggests, bed bugs usually infest beds. This is because beds are usually warm, sheltered and offer a safe habitat for bed bugs to breed.

Bed bugs are very difficult to identify physically, but they leave notable clues behind. The most common being smear marks, blood and their skin. Landlords will need to look for these signs in places such as bedrooms and other rooms with plush furniture (sofas, curtains, carpets and rugs).

If identified, you’ll need to contact a pest control company to ensure safe and effective removal is achieved.


Arguably everyone’s most hated pest. Cockroaches are notoriously difficult to eliminate due to their resilience to many pesticides. Also, cockroaches can survive without eating for over 2 months, meaning they won’t perish unlike other insects.

They can be identified by their droppings, but unlike other insect pests, cockroaches are larger and are happy wandering around humans. They usually nest in cupboards and anywhere where there’s food and shelter. They can be found anywhere in the home, which makes them slightly easier to spot than other pests. They also commonly nest under floorboards.


Mice are another common pest found in properties. Mice are very shy creatures and usually stick to the shadows and only really come out to look for food during the night. This makes them difficult to spot during the day, but there are some notable signs to lookout for.

One mouse isn’t going to cause us any problems, but they breed at alarming rates and this is when they become an issue. Mice chew through electrical circuits, dig up carpets and eat our food. A group of mice will become a problem if they aren’t dealt with. Notable signs include their droppings, which are usually found in groups (opposite to rats, we’ll cover that later).

If you do notice a mouse infestation, it’s advised you call a pest control expert to safely and effectively remove the nest.


It’s easy to let gardens and outdoor areas of your property become unmanageable, especially during the colder months. Rats, wasp nests and birds need to be managed all year round to ensure your property isn’t damaged.


While they won’t necessarily cause as much damage or be as invasive as rats, they can cause structural damage all year round. Once birds find an area to nest, it can become difficult to relocate them, especially pigeons because of their homing instincts. Bird droppings can also cause structural damage if left neglected.

Birds are very easy to identify and can be deterred with bird netting and spikes. Nests are tougher to spot but you’ll usually be able to hear sounds emanating from the nest. They’re usually found nesting in the ceilings of garages, treetops, sheds, gutters and roof linings. They can be easily relocated by a pest control expert.


Despite their negative reputation, wasps help pollinate our gardens, it just comes at an occasionally disruptive cost. However, their annoyance to humans isn’t the main reason we want them out of our gardens. Wasps nests can become very dangerous if left to develop and are even more dangerous to remove without adequate training.

Identifying wasp nests, for the most part, is fairly simple. They’re very loud and they aren’t great at being discrete. You’ll usually find them on the underside of roofs, sheds and walls. In some cases, they can hide in cracks and gaps in walls, which is when they can become dangerous.

Wasps require pest control experts for safe removal to be carried out. You should never try and remove a wasp nest on your own, as they can be lethal, especially to those who are allergic.


Foxes cause disruption by ripping into our bins and digging up our gardens. While they are very shy animals and only come out at night, they do cause a fair amount of damage.

Spotting a fox is rare during daylight, as they only come out at night to hunt for food. However, if you notice your bins are ripped, it’s likely you have a fox problem nearby. Simply shutting your bins and keeping your garden secure (gates and high walls are ideal) will see them avoid your property.

Interior and Exterior

Some pests infest both the exterior and interior of our properties. Below are the most common:


The most common pest problem. Rats cause massive disruptions to our day-to-day lives and if left neglected, can cause thousands of pounds worth of damage. Rats breed rapidly, nest everywhere, spread disease and chew through electric cables, and that’s just to name a few problems.

Rats are fairly social creatures, but they do tend to keep a low profile. The easiest way they can be spotted is via their droppings. Rats defected on the move and their droppings are bigger than mice droppings. Other ways to identify them include gnaw marks, rat urine, ripped food packages and sightings.

Rats require pest control intervention, especially if the nest is large.


Ants make their ant hills outside but commonly find their way into our properties in such of food, especially during the summer. Ants outside won’t cause too many problems but once they enter a property, they can eat our food and nest within our walls causing structural damage.

Spotting ants can be tough, mainly because they’re very small and people often just assume there aren’t enough to ants for it to be an infestation. You’ll want to survey your garden to ensure there are no ant hills or nests developing. A pest control expert will be able to take out the necessary checks.


Woodlice are attracted to damp, moist areas where they can feast on decaying wood. Woodlice won’t cause any disruption if your house isn’t suffering from damp. However, if you do notice woodlice in your house, they’re likely there because they’ve found a damp spot (a good indication if your property has damp).

If your property suffers with bad damp, spotting woodlice will be fairly easy. They can be identified by their 1cm bodies and usually travel in large groups to inhabit damp areas.

Be sure to estate agent or pest control professional if you do notice any pest problems in your property. Your tenants will not be responsible for paying to fix any pest-related issues (unless it can be proved it was their fault), so it’s your responsibility as a landlord to ensure your property is pest-free before your tenants move in.