The UK currently has 18 species of bat making their homes within its borders. Surprisingly however, a lot of people are unaware that all bats and their roosts are legally protected, by both domestic and international legislation.
You may be committing a criminal offence if you:
- Deliberately take, injure or kill a wild bat;
- Intentionally or recklessly disturb a bat in its roost or deliberately disturb a group of bats;
- Damage or destroy a place used by bats for breeding or resting (even if bats are not occupying the roost at the time)
- Possess, advertise, sell or exchange a bat found in the wild (dead or alive) or any part of a bat.
- Intentionally or recklessly obstruct access to a bat roost or place it is using for as shelter.
If you are found guilty of committing any of these offences you could be sentenced to six months in prison and get an unlimited fine. So, if you are planning any renovation works to your property, repairing your roof or starting an extension project, check to make sure that you won’t be committing an offence without realising it.
If you find bats, don’t panic! This doesn't put an end to your plans, as there are a range of measures that you can put in place to mitigate the risk. These measures include avoiding any works during breeding season, installing bat boxes and more.
Are you buying a property where bats are found?
Although bats are heavily protected by legislation, this shouldn't put you off buying the property. Bats are relatively harmless to you and your property. Bats are not rodents, and will not nibble or gnaw at wood, wires or insulation. They are also one of natures greatest pest control; as their diet consists mainly of insects.
Is there a way to legally and ethically get rid of them?
If you wish to remove bats from your property, you will have to obtain a licence to remove the bats. A licence will only be granted if a satisfactory alternative cannot be found and that the population of bats will not be detrimentally affected. Licences are granted by Natural England (or its equivalents in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland) and you will need the help of a professional bat removal consultant. For more information, The Bat Conservation Trust has a help line and is a good place to start.
If you would like more information in relation to this article or you have a property matter that you would like to discuss, please get in touch with BakerLaw’s property team.
This article is not a definitive statement of the law. It is designed as a free update on the law at the time of publishing. It is not a substitute for legal advice on specific facts and circumstances. BakerLaw LLP and/or the writer accepts no liability or responsibility for reliance on this article and recommends that you seek independent legal advice on your specific circumstances prior to taking any steps.