Property Maintenance: Bugs
By Jacob Lundquist
Most people don’t like bugs. If not the bugs themselves, then the problems they create. Insects from bedbugs to cockroaches mean possible property damage, landscaping problems, or even health and safety concerns for you and your tenants. Bedbugs in particular have been a huge problem—a survey by the National Apartment Association found a two-thirds incidence of bedbugs, with a 6% litigation rate. As property managers, it is important for us to resolve current bug issues and prevent future ones as quickly as possible.
These tips will help you deal with bugs now, and keep them from coming back in the future:
Partner up with a local, reputable pest control company.
Reading reviews is important to judge customer satisfaction and effectiveness. Make sure this company has multiple processes available—pet-friendly if your property is—that will fit your distinct needs. Ideally, they should offer assistance or products for preventative measures, as well.
Don’t use over-the-counter methods of treatment.
This tip, closely related to the first one, is simple: if treating infestations is not your specialty, then don’t try it! Pest control companies exist to do just that, and will likely do it more efficiently and accurately than you would alone. Similarly, don’t expect your residents to take care of the problem on their own either.
Communicate with residents.
This includes communication about prevention and care measures, as well as regarding the specific treatment or problems occurring in the property. The Minnesota Department of Agriculture has a simple flyer with helpful information about bedbug causes and symptoms. Find or make a flyer for your specific problem.
Inform residents of treatment measures.
Their actions need to include washing all of their clothes, moving things out of problem areas, and moving furniture and emptying closets so the pest control professionals can properly navigate the room.
Encourage reporting and maintenance.
Inform your residents of how to identify specific problem insects, and let them know what options are available. Residents are more likely to report their problems if they do not feel they will be punished for it.
Train maintenance staff to identify problem bugs.
During room inspections or maintenance calls, it should be possible for your staff to recognize the signs of a bug infestation—whether bedbugs, cockroaches, or something else entirely. Larger bugs are generally more visible, but there are always signs of bug presence in a room.
Track bugs infestations and their movement.
This will allow you to see how the bugs are spreading, what direction they seem to be moving in, and the like. This information can better prepare you for preventative measures in nearby properties or units, and telling tenants in advance can guarantee their safety and caution in the near future.
Of course, this list is non-exhaustive. But, with the increase in litigation and damage payments regarding bugs (and bedbugs especially), it’s a good idea to stay ahead of the problem. Preventative care is always the best solution, and pest control is deeply important to you and your resident’s safety.