6 Steps for Handling Tenant Pest Complaints

Keeping Rodents and Insects Out of Your Rental

Young woman looking through window at home
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As a landlord, you must take tenant complaints about pests very seriously. If you do not take care of the issue quickly, it can lead to tenant turnover or even fines for violating local health codes. Here are six steps every landlord should take to get rid of these unwanted critters and to ease tenants’ minds.

1. Respond to the Complaint Quickly

There are two reasons you must act immediately when a tenant complains about pests.

  1. Keep the Tenant Happy: If a tenant sees an unwanted creature in their unit, they expect the landlord to address it immediately. Telling a tenant who has a newborn baby that you will be there in a week to address their cockroach problem is not going to go over well. You want to keep your tenants happy because happy tenants are more likely to renew their lease.
  2. Protect the Property: If a tenant sees a rodent or insect, odds are, there is more than one in the property. They breed very quickly, so a small problem can become a large one very suddenly. Getting rid of a small issue is much easier than dealing with an entire infestation. It is also much cheaper.

    2. Contact All Tenants

    If you have more than one tenant at the property, you will want to contact the other tenants to determine if they have also noticed a pest problem. You are not trying to alarm them if they have not noticed a problem. Rather, you are trying to determine how widespread the problem is.

    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. Determine the Type of Pest the Complaint Involves

    Before you can begin efforts to exterminate the pest, you must determine what type of pest is involved. A tenant may tell you they saw a rat when it is actually just another tenant’s hamster that has gotten loose. Another tenant may describe seeing one ant on their countertop as a big problem.

    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. Determine Where The Pest Is Coming From

    Once you have determined the type of pest you are dealing with, you can next look at how they are getting into the unit or 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. 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.

      5. Exterminate

      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.