Maybe the better question is what are these pests? No..I am not talking about your non-paying, soon to be evicted, tenants! I am referring to the spiders, roaches, and God forbid termites, that might be hanging around your rental home. Worse yet, your tenants are not telling you about these pests because they assume you won't do anything. The tenants have a lease that say treatments for pests are their problem. Many tenants don't have the extra $100 needed to address the pests with an exterminator. They choose to live with the pests until their lease ends. By then, the problem may be much worse.
Many owners jump to the conclusion that a pest problem reported by the tenant, is likely a problem with the tenant's lifestyle. In my experience the answer to that assumption is "maybe". The problem with telling a tenant to hire a company to deal with the roaches is that you will eventually run off your tenant and the pest problem might not be treated. It will just get worse.
Interesting story from actual experience. We manage a duplex and both sides paid the rent timely and seemed like good tenants. We inspected the interiors every three months. Nice, young Mom reports a roach problem in her kitchen. We confirm there are a few roaches (roaches really freak out young Mom's!). The owner hesitated to treat for concerns about the young children in the unit. Also, we really could not identify the actual source of the roaches.
We contacted the tenant next door and he said all was fine. No problem with pests. After a few weeks of the problem not improving for young Mom, we post notice that we are going to inspect the other unit. The one where the tenant claimed everything was fine.
When we showed up to do the inspection, nobody answered the door. So, we let ourselves in. Immediately, we discovered lots of problems. There were 10 men sleeping in this three bedroom unit (I have no idea where their cars were-but young Mom was a little surprised also). The housekeeping was atrocious and one look under the adjoining kitchen cabinet wall revealed a huge problem with roaches and open food!
Treating the young family's unit would temporarily stop the infestation. The only solution though was to evict everybody from the overbooked unit. A significant eradication ensued. The problem was clearly not the young family's fault. The roaches really had no preference which unit they were visiting (though there was much more to eat at the overbooked neighbors!).
Encouraging tenants to not be shy, but to report pests, is an important step in a management policy. Make it clear in your tenant handbooks that the owner/manager needs to know if the home has unwanted guests. Sooner than later. The owner/manager should also inspect when a report is received. Not so much as to catch a pest in action (though the confirmation is nice) but to reinforce good housekeeping practices that might attract pests. Dirty dishes in the sink, open food in cabinets, stacks of clothes or other items that are sitting out that can create a habitat, should all be addressed with a tenant.
Owners really should take a proactive approach with pests. I have always incurred the expense of a pest management company to come quarterly to treat rentals where I hold an interest. I have them arrange a time with the tenant if the tenant wants inside treatment. They come back at any time a problem is reported. The treatment company tells me if they discover a problem. They are a large national company and it does cost a little money. I also have long-term tenants by treating them to this kind of service. They stay happy and I maintain a property that will not incur a huge eradication cost in the future.
If you are an owner of any type of residential property, a proactive approach like this is strongly recommended.
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