Rats and Mice and the Law

Rats and mice may represent a public health risk. A public health risk is something that is likely to be harmful to human health or contribute to disease in humans this includes rats and mice. 

Under the Public Health Act 2005 residents are responsible for the control of rats on their properties. Rats and mice are likely to harbour and breed in litter and debris; residents can therefore discourage vermin harbourage by keeping their properties tidy and free from litter and debris. 

When there is a public health risk caused by rats and mice, Council is responsible for administering and enforcing the Public Health Act 2005 in order to remove the risk. A Public Health Order may be issued to the owner/occupier of the premises requiring them to eliminate the vermin harbourage to Council’s satisfaction within a certain period of time. If the owner/occupier does not comply with the Public Health Order, Council may then issue fines, prosecute and apply to the Court for an Enforcement Order to have the work undertaken at the owner’s/occupier’s expense.

In addition, there are a number of requirements under the Public Health Regulation 2018 including:

The owner of a building, drain, pipe connected to a building or a retaining wall must take reasonable steps to stop rats and mice entering the structure.  Reasonable steps can include

  • sealing or covering any holes or gaps in the exterior surface of the structure;
  • fitting a cover, grate or plug securely in a covered pipe or drain, including a disused pipe or drain;
  • removing a disused pipe or drain. 

A person must not destroy, damage or remove a screen or other object that has been fixed to a relevant structure for the purpose of stopping rats and mice entering the structure.

A person for land around a dwelling must ensure:

  • rats or mice are not harboured on the land; and
  • the land is not a breeding ground for rats or mice. 

You may receive a fine or face prosecution if you do not comply with this requirement.