Bugs are not popular. Whether they are tiny ants, giant roaches, or the feared bed bugs, no landlord or renter wants to find out that there are bugs on the premises. Depending on where your property is, different bugs will make up the blight. So what do you do as a landlord when you hear that news?
There are several steps you’ll need to take to fully eradicate an infestation and keep it from coming back. But if you can start with that ounce of prevention, hope that when it comes to bugs, it is truly worth a pound of cure.
Know Your Region
As a Houston-area landlord, you have the great luck of living in a region with a range of different household pests. In fact, Houston properties attract cockroaches and ants as well as termites, spiders, and bed bugs. Fleas and ticks may also make their way in depending on if your tenants have pets, are hikers, or just have bad luck. One way or another, any or all of these pests may make their way in and you need to be prepared.
The Prevention Police
Rather than waiting for the phone call or knock that says the pests have arrived, work with your tenants on an ongoing prevention strategy. For example, discuss the reasons for your particular landscaping decisions with your tenants. Avoiding bushes or other overgrowth can reduce sources of pest infestation. This may leave you with only sparse options in terms of what to plant, but better limited flora than ants or ticks.
Even though you’re renting and not selling your property, it is worth performing some of the inspections that normally come with a home sale. For example, regularly schedule termite inspections, as termites more than any other pest pose a safety risk. Your renters may never see termites, but they can do significant damage to the infrastructure of your buildings. Help keep everyone safe by inspecting for termites, even if it seems unnecessary.
Preventative pest control can also apply to creatures like ants and roaches. Houston-area properties, like properties throughout the South, are highly vulnerable to bugs and do best when regularly sprayed. Work with a local pest control company and have them come spray all of your properties every few months. They can target vulnerable areas with safe, non-toxic pesticides and everyone can rest assured that the bugs are at bay for at least a little bit longer.
Watch The News
While the news may not have much to say about ants or even cockroaches, in cities over the last few years, bed bugs have certainly made the news. In fact, Houston ranks as one of the top most infested cities. If you see that bed bugs have become a problem in your area, take steps to keep them out. Issue a policy about used furniture, since this is a common way that they enter the home.
Another thing you can do if you are concerned about bed bugs is to hire a bed bug sniffing dog. This is a unique way of detecting the bed bugs if you are uncertain whether or not they are there, and can help detect them before an infestation gets out of control. If the dog detects bed bugs, you can then take further steps towards eliminating them.
Who Is Responsible For Pest Control?
It’s in the best interest of your reputation as a landlord to take preventative steps on behalf of your tenants, but what about when the bugs have arrived in full force? Who should be responsible for eradicating the infestation?
There are different ways you can approach the question of responsibility. Some landlords believe that whoever brought the bugs in is responsible for making them leave. This can be a wise financial decision since some infestations are clearly the renter’s fault. If a dirty home has attracted ants or cockroaches, or a piece of used furniture carried in bed bugs, why shouldn’t it fall on the tenant to get rid of them?
As it turns out, there are several good reasons for not leaving extermination in the hands of your tenants. For one thing, some tenants are happy to complain to you about pests if they think you’ll step up to get rid of them, but are otherwise complacent and unlikely to make the changes or do the cleanup necessary to get rid of those bugs themselves. Similarly, they may cut corners and hire a less reputable exterminator who won’t entirely get rid of the pests. If this is the case, you risk the bugs spreading to other tenants’ units – this is bad for everyone.
When it comes to legal responsibility, on the other hand, it almost always falls to landlords to deal with pest issues. This has to do with the legal requirement that landlords maintain a livable environment for their tenants. If you hold tenants responsible for their own pest problems, you risk the responsibility being shifted onto you anyway. Better to take responsibility from the start and avoid multiplying problems.
Fight It As A Team
Even if you take responsibility for the extermination end of pest control, there are some things you can’t control. This is when it makes sense to work with your tenants as a team to get rid of pests. While it shouldn’t take much coaching to manage ants or roaches – it mostly involves cleaning up garbage and dishes – when it comes to bed bugs, there’s more work to be done.
If your tenants have bed bugs, make sure they clearly understand the steps it takes to get rid of them. This includes vacuuming, laundering all clothes and bedding, and even cleaning out all shelves and closets that could harbor the bugs. These jobs fall to your tenants, but you can ask them to update you as they take each step so you can ask any questions and make sure they’re following the directions to the letter.
Green Residential Hates Pests
At Green Residential we have plenty of experience with Houston’s local pest problems. Contact us today and let our team of professionals help you with your rental management needs. We specialize in tenant screening, leasing, inspections, maintenance, and evictions. Whether you’re planning your annual pest prevention or dealing with a tenant who can’t seem to get rid of the bugs, we can help you get bug free again.