Wild rats aren’t usually welcome visitors in our homes and to help keep them away, a spring clean could be beneficial.

Homeowners are being urged to do some spring cleaning tasks to prevent rodent infestations from devaluing their property.

This comes after a surge of rat infestations in the UK caused by a combination of cold weather, floods and delays in bin collections.

Home insurance experts at QuoteZone.co.uk are advising Brits to prioritise house maintenance this spring.

Echo: Rodents being in your house can devalue your property's valueRodents being in your house can devalue your property's value (Image: Getty)

They say that damage caused by rats or mice can knock £20,000 or more off the value of the average UK property.

Cost of repairs can be expensive so rodent-infested houses often see a reduction of 20% from their asking prices.

Removing rodents can cost up to tens of thousands of pounds with the smell of vermin nests being tricky to eliminate and the potential for rodents to chew on electric cables and pipework. They can also cause damage to joists and studwork.

The experts add that most insurance providers don’t cover damages caused by rats and mice because an infestation is not considered an unforeseen risk but rather an issue caused by a lack of maintenance.

QuoteZone.co.uk used the Property Saviour and British Pest Control Association (BPCA) websites for information.

How to know if rodents are in your home

‘Rub’ or ‘smear’ marks from their coats rubbing along hallways is normally the first clue, followed by gnawed holes and torn bags of foodstuffs.

One of the most common signs that rats have paid a visit is their faeces, which are dark and pellet-shaped and look like large grains of rice.

A brief history of spring cleaning

Spring cleaning checklist to keep rodents away from your home

The team at QuoteZone.co.uk has provided a checklist for spring cleaning tasks that will help you prevent rodents being attracted to your home.

Clear clutter

Reduce clutter as much as possible if you want to keep rodents out of your home.

If you’ve got unnecessary items in your living spaces, attic or garage, it’s advised that you get rid of them.

It’s worth storing your belongings in tightly sealed plastic containers.

Check your food storage

Make sure to clean out your food cupboards and make sure rodents can’t get to any food sources.

Remove any cardboard boxes that don’t seal properly and replace them with glass containers with fitted lids.

Fix leaks

Sources of moisture are attractive for rodents as it provides them with water to survive.

With this in mind, you’ll need to take prompt action and fix any leaking pipes or taps to prevent them.

Seal cracks

If you have any cracks or small entry points these should be sealed off to prevent rodents entering your house.

Proper sealing keeps rodents out but it can also provide insulation, helping to reduce energy costs.

Tips for first-time buyers

Clear debris from garden

Debris in your garden such as piles of leaves, grass cuttings, excess birdseed and wood can attract rodents and give them access to food, shelter and nesting materials.

Clean the bins

Clean both your indoor and outdoor bins and make sure they’re properly sealed to prevent the odours from attracting rodents.

Clean and sanitise the bins regularly especially after disposing food waste to help prevent foul odours and protect your home against an infestation.

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Greg Wilson, Founder and CEO at home insurance comparison site QuoteZone.co.uk, said: “Lack of maintenance could invalidate home insurance and leave homeowners unprotected.

“To help prevent rodents from entering your home it’s important to give the building a thorough check for holes and gaps and seal off any possible entrances for pests - ensuring there are no accessible food sources to attract them.

“As the breeding season for rodents begins in springtime, it’s important for homeowners to inspect their houses and carry out any essential maintenance to help keep their houses vermin-free.

“Because rats and mice are quick breeders, infestations can spiral out of control in no time so it’s important to carry out regular hygiene and maintenance checks to prevent rodents from wreaking havoc on homeowners’ properties and wallets. 

“If a property has an infestation, it can reduce its value by up to 20%, and the seller is required by law to disclose this information.”