A common issue landlords will have to deal with at their rentals are complaints about pests. It is important to take these complaints seriously, because they can quickly become large issues,resulting in tenant turnover and even fines from the health department. Landlords are responsible for maintaining the rental property to certain health and safety standards. Here is how you should approach pest issues at your rental.
1. Address Complaint Quickly
You will want to address a complaint about pests as quickly as possible. The goal is to keep your tenants happy and to protect the property.
- Keep the Tenant Happy: If a tenant is calling you to complain about a pest, they are obviously unhappy and unsettled by the situation. As the landlord, it is your responsibility to address the complaint immediately. You want to keep your tenants happy, because happy tenants are more likely to renew their lease.
- Protect the Property: If a tenant sees a rodent or insect, it is very likely that it is not the only one in the property. These pests breed very quickly, so a small problem can quickly explode into a large one. Getting rid of a small issue is much easier and cheaper than dealing with an large-scale infestation.
2. Speak With All Tenants
If you own a multifamily rental, you will want to contact all tenants to determine how widespread the problem is. You are not trying to alarm them if they have not noticed a problem.
You do not have to ask the tenant directly if they have seen a mouse, rat or any other type of creepy crawly creature. Instead, you can ask if they have any concerns or repairs that need to be addressed. If they have seen any bugs or rodents, they will most likely let you know.
3. Identify the Type of Pest
Before you can begin efforts to exterminate the pest, you must determine what type of pest is involved. The tenant may not have the experience to properly identify the pest they saw. The tenant may tell you they saw a bed bug, when it was just an ant on their countertop.
Different extermination methods are used on different types of rodents and insects, so it is important to get it right. Glue traps and rat poison are common ways to treat a rodent problem, while insecticides are commonly used on insects. Look for droppings, nests or signs of gnawing. You may be able to determine the type of pest yourself, or you may have to call in a specialist.
4. Where Is the Pest Coming From?
Once you have identified the type of pest involved in the complaint, you need to figure out how they are getting into the property or where they are living in the property.
- Bed Bugs: In the early stages of a bed bug infestation, bed bugs will usually be confined to areas where they can easily feed on humans. In these cases, check-in, around and underneath beds, sofas, and chairs first. In more widespread infestations, the bugs will hide in drapes, outlet covers and cracks and crevices in walls and furniture.
- Rodents and Insects: Rodents and insects usually enter a property through cracks or crevices. Mice need little more than a hole a quarter of an inch wide to enter a property. Insects can easily enter through drain pipes or outdoor vents.
- Check around the perimeter of the property for these cracks and crevices. When checking inside the property, look in common areas. Finally, check in the actual unit to determine how they are getting directly into the unit.
- Professional Help: Most of these pests will only come out at night, so it can be hard to track them. You may need to hire an exterminator if you cannot easily find the point of entry.
Once you know the type of pest you are dealing with and hopefully where they are coming from, it is time to get rid of them. There are many different ways to exterminate rodents and insects. Some, such as glue traps, are relatively non-invasive, while others, such as bug bombing, require the tenant to leave the premises for a period of time.
You can try do-it-yourself methods or you can hire an exterminator. It depends on your level of comfort. The most important thing is that you get rid of the pest and that you do not jeopardize the safety of your tenant in doing so.
6. Keep a Record
You should keep a record of all tenant pest complaints. This record should include:
- The date of the complaint,
- The type of complaint, and
- The action you took to resolve the complaint.
This record will help you provide proof if a tenant tries to say you did not address the pest complaint.