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If you’re a landlord long enough, you will eventually get a phone call from a tenant about a pest problem.  Dealing with bed bugs or rodents isn’t the most glamorous part of the job, but it certainly comes with the territory.  Like taking care of your own home, a bit of prevention can slash the odds of a pest infestation.

Here is our how-to for pest control and prevention for rental properties.

Know What to Look For

Which bugs are problematic in your area?  Are mice a problem?  Termites?  What about animals looking for a warm place to nest for the winter?  Know which pests are most common in your region.  Learn what signs to look for.  Each pest will leave behind different signs, such as droppings, rotten wood or other damage.  By being informed of the warning signs, you can catch problems more quickly, reducing the scope – and cost – of the damage and infestation.

Be Proactive

Taking a few steps now can greatly reduce the chances of a pest problem.  Don’t wait until it’s too late.  Animal-proof and bug-proof your rental property today.  Time today can save money later.

Some landlords specify in their lease agreement that the tenant is responsible for the cost of pest control services.  Renters will take better care to be clean and prevent infestations, and will be proactive in setting out traps and addressing mild infestations.  Problems can arise though if the tenants fail to report serious infestations, to avoid paying for extermination.

Prevention Tips

Here are a few quick tips to help prevent pest infestations.

  • Check door and window screens.  Repair or replace any damaged screens to keeps bugs out.
  • Avoid standing water.  Many insects breed in water, so backfill any low areas where water pools and sits.  Get rid of old planters, cans or anything that tends to collects water.
  • Prune back all trees and bushes near your building.  Roots can damage the foundation, giving pests a way in. 
  • Get rid of old wood piles.  Insects like old, damp wood, so don’t attract them.
  • Animal-proof your rental property.  Install screens over all possible entry points, such as vents, pipes, chimneys and air returns. 
  • Caulk around doors and windows to keep ants and other insects out.
  • Have a spot where your tenants can store their garbage away from the building.  Keeps bins covered to discourage animals.
  • Ask tenants to report bugs and pests right away.  The faster you start dealing with the problem, the better your chance of solving it quickly and economically.

Leased Property Mouse Infestation AmbushDeal With a Problem Quickly

If you learn of a pest infestation in a rental unit, deal with it quickly.  Your tenants will likely be distraught – quick action on your part will show them you are taking the matter seriously.  Acting swiftly can also prevent the infestation from spreading to other units and taking root there.  Some pests can be eliminated DIY-style, others may require a professional. 

If the infestation is mild, such as a few ants, see if you can locate their entry point.  Sealing it well, applying some ant powder and setting a few traps may be all that is needed.  If using any kind of bug spray or powder, make sure to read the label carefully and follow the manufacturer’s instructions.

For more serious infestations, such as bed bugs or termites, an expert may be needed.  Most exterminators offer same day service.  A good exterminator will take the time to properly investigate and assess the problem, explain what needs to be done, and carry out the work.  They will also explain how to monitor the situation, or do so themselves depending on the nature of the pest problem. 

If rodents or animals have gained entry into your rental property, a pest control or wildlife removal company can help.  They will seal off entry points and set traps if needed.  Look for a company that will also clean up or remove any contaminated materials, repair any damage and animal-proof your property to prevent future animal problems.

Schedule Routine Inspections

Schedule a yearly inspection of all of your rental properties.  To make sure you don’t miss anything, create a list of things to look for, and areas to inspect.  During your inspection, ask the tenants if they had any problems they didn’t report.  Encourage them to report pest problems right away.

If your property is in an area prone to bug infestations, it may be worthwhile to have an exterminator accompany you on your inspections and complete preventative maintenance.  They can create a barrier system which will help avoid infestations from happening in the first place, usually for $100-250.  It’s easier, more efficient and less expensive to be proactive rather than reactive when it comes to pest control.

With a little planning, you can help prevent most pest infestations.  If and when pests do get in, tackling the problem quickly can minimize costs and appease you tenants.

Have pests even become a problem in one of your rental properties?  How did you deal with the issue?

Related Reading:

Bed Bugs, Property Management, & Landlord Liability

Maryland Tenant Awarded $800,000 for Bedbug Infestation

Common Property Issues & Repairs Landlords Should Know (Infographic)


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