TENANTS in Malvern will not have to pay for pest control after councillors agreed to provide it for free.

At the meeting of Malvern Hills District Council's overview and scrutiny committee, councillors discussed the issue, originally raised by Liberal Democrat councillor Kaleem Aksar in a previous meeting.

Phil Merrick, director of economy and environment, introduced this Report. He noted that of the six Districts in Worcestershire, currently three offer support for pest control (Bromsgrove, Redditch and Wychavon) and residents must meet certain qualifying criteria to be eligible.

Using comparisons from these neighbouring districts, a similar scheme in Malvern was estimated to cost approximately £10,000 per year.

The proposal to introduce a pest control concession in line with the existing Wychavon District Council scheme was included in the draft Revenue and Capital Budgets 2021/22.

The calls for better provision of pest control originally came from Cllr Aksar after he had been contacted by ward residents who were struggling with the issue.

Speaking at the full council meeting in December, he said: "This motion came about from work I was doing with a man in my ward who approached me who is vulnerable, he has dementia.

"He has a rat problem, so he did what we all would do, and went to the Worcestershire Regulatory Services website.

"If he were to cross the Severn, he would get it for free as he qualifies for the specific benefits.

"Obviously we are all different councils and are all unique, but there are some policy decisions and some things we can do as a council which are particularly important to preventing vulnerable people from having to borrow money to pay for pest control services to make his house a safe place to live.

"These are fundamental things we need to do in our lives and some people don’t have the financial means to access these services."

The Prevention of Damage by a Pests Act 1949 determines that, “It shall be the duty of every local authority to take such steps as may be necessary to secure so far as practicable that their district is kept free from rats and mice.”

Most landlords, including social landlords and Housing Associations, expect their tenants to be responsible for removing pests from their property in their tenancy agreements.