Silverfish are known for their destructive feeding habits and can cause a serious problem in large numbers – quickly damaging books, photographs, paintings, and other household items containing starch or cellulose.

Know your enemy

Do you think you have silverfish at home? You should be able to identify a silverfish by its silvery or grey colour and tapered, tail-like appearance. Silverfish are wingless and have two slender antennae. These pests are also commonly referred to as carpet sharks or fish moths.

Why are there silverfish in my rental?

Silverfish survive in most environments but particularly enjoy warm, humid places like bathrooms, kitchens, kitchens, basements and attics, and are especially fond of paper and damp clothing. They also feed on carbohydrates, especially sugars and starches.

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Steps to take against silverfish

Because silverfish require damp and humid conditions to thrive (i.e. your bathroom, laundry room, kitchen or other dark areas,) there are a few steps you can take to avoid an infestation. If you have any leaks in your pipework, bring this to your landlord’s attention and get it fixed. Improving ventilation and using a dehumidifier can also discourage silverfish from setting up.

You can stop this pest from thriving by keeping any dust and debris to a minimum. If you have a few rarely-disturbed hotspots in your rental, vacuum them when you can. If you have food in containers, make sure they’re stored with tightly sealed lids.

Some DIY products such as sprays can help you control a silverfish population, but a large or repeated infestation will likely require professional treatment.

Are landlords or tenants responsible for silverfish?

Although silverfish are mostly harmless, they can be destructive when it comes to your household items. Most of the time, you (the tenant) are responsible for eradicating pests (like ants) in a rental property if the infestation occurs after you move into that property. If you’ve been living in your rental for several months and an ant infestation occurs, you will need to pay for the service.

If you can show that the property owner was in breach of the tenancy agreement (for example, by not offering the property in a clean and safe condition) and this breach caused the infestation, you may not be held responsible for eradication. As always, check the tenancy legislation for your particular state/territory legislation and the fine print on your lease agreement that you have with the landlord/agent.

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