How to Avoid and Get Rid of Bed Bugs in Rental Properties
Imagine waking up to itchy, red bites all over your body, only to realize that the property you’re renting is infested with bed bugs. Let’s just say this isn’t anexperience that will encourage tenants to renew their leases. Bed bugs certainly aren’t a landlord’s fault, but they can quickly become a nightmare that threatens the markability of your property and the well-being of your tenants.
Bed bugs are small, reddish-brown insects that feed on human blood. Think an infestation can’t happen to you? Think again. These pests are a common problem in rental properties and can be challenging to get rid of once they’ve infested a building. As a property manager, it’s essential to take proactive steps to prevent bed bugs from spreading and to control infestations if they do occur.
“Most property managers are focused with utilities and more obvious issues,” says Jordan Brooks, vice president of Noble Pine, the manufacturer of Sterifab, an all-in-one disinfectant, insecticide and virucide that kills bed bugs at all stages of life. “The tendency is to ignore the risk of bed bug infections until it’s too late, but landlords should be taking steps to fight against bed bugs from day one to protect their reputations and avoid financial loss.”
Preventing bed bugs from entering your rental property is the best way to avoid an infestation. If you’re ready to take Brooks’ advice and adopt an active role in preventing bed bug infestations in your properties, here are some measures you can take to reduce the likelihood of an infestation.
Regular inspections are an essential tool for detecting bed bug infestations early. Inspect each unit for signs of bed bugs, including small bloodstains on sheets or mattresses, live bugs and shed skins. Tenants may not always report bed bugs, so it’s important to be proactive and thorough during inspections. It’s always a good idea to be sure to conduct inspections in accordance to your leasing agreement while exercising common courtesy.
Educating tenants about bed bugs and how to prevent them can help reduce the risk of infestation. Provide tenants with information about how bed bugs spread, what signs to look for, and what to do if they suspect an infestation. This information can be included in a tenant handbook or provided during the lease signing process. The more well informed your tenants are, the more likely they’ll be able to report infestations quickly so they can be handled quickly and easily at minimum loss or discomfort.
Encourage Clutter Reduction:
Bed bugs love to hide in clutter, so encourage tenants to reduce clutter in their units. This can make it easier to spot bed bugs and prevent infestations from spreading. You may also consider including a cleanliness clause in your lease, which can guide tenants in how clean they must keep their units and generally help reduce pest populations including bed bug populations.
Use Mattress and Box Spring Encasements:
Mattress and box spring encasements can help prevent bed bugs from entering or exiting these items. Encourage tenants to use encasements, and provide them with information on how to properly install them. If you’re leasing a furnished rental, be sure to implement these encasements to protect your furniture from bed bug infestations.
Performing pre-move-in inspections can help identify any bed bug problems before tenants move in. This is an opportunity that shouldn’t be overlooked, as it can help prevent bed bugs from spreading to other units.
“Bed bug infestations can happen to most diligent and responsible property managers,” says Brooks. “Preventative measures can go a long way toward protecting your property and tenants, but it’s equally important to have a plan of action for when the worst happens. Quick, decisive action is necessary to make the best of a bad situation.”
If you do find a bed bug infestation in your rental property, here are some steps you can take to take control of the situation and get rid of these pesky critters.
Contact a Professional Pest Control Company:
Bed bugs are difficult to get rid of and, more often than not, require professional help. When dealing with a bed bug infestation, contact a licensed pest control company that specializes in bed bug treatment. They will be able to develop a treatment plan that will help ensure that the bed bugs are completely eradicated, and provide you with strategies to keep them away permanently.
Notify tenants in affected units, and those adjacent, about the bed bug problem and what steps they need to take to prepare for treatment. Provide them with a checklist of things to do before treatment, such as washing and drying all clothes and linens on high heat.
Treat Adjacent Units:
Bed bugs can easily move from one unit to another, so it’s essential to treat adjacent units to prevent the infestation from spreading. Sterifab is a particularly good option because it’s non- residual, dries quickly, and can be applied to most human contact surfaces. Your pest management contractor may also suggest a heat treatment, which is able to completely kill any bed bug and bed bug egg in an infested area.
After bed bug treatment, follow up with tenants to ensure that the infestation has been eliminated. It may take multiple treatments to completely get rid of bed bugs, so it’s essential to be diligent in monitoring and follow-up.
Consider Long-Term Solutions:
While professional treatment can eliminate a bed bug infestation, it’s important to consider long-term solutions to prevent future infestations. This can include ongoing inspections, tenant education, and the use of bed bug monitors and household pesticides in common areas.
“The fight against bed bugs can feel like an uphill battle,” says Brooks. “But if you’ve ever had to deal with them, even just once, you’ll know that every effort to keep them away and kill the ones that do show up is well worth it.”
Bed bugs are a common problem in rental properties, and preventing and controlling infestations requires a proactive approach. As a property manager, it’s important to educate tenants about bed bugs, perform regular inspections, encourage clutter reduction, and use mattress and box spring encasements. If an infestation does occur, contacting a professional pest control company, notifying tenants, treating adjacent units, and following up are essential steps to get rid of bed bugs. Additionally, considering long-term solutions can help prevent future infestations.
As a property manager, it’s important to take bed bug prevention seriously. Not only can bed bugs be harmful to your business, but they could also expose you to costly lawsuits if tenants experience physical harm or financial loss due to an infestation. By taking proactive steps to prevent and control bed bugs, you can ensure the safety and well-being of your tenants and protect your rental property investment.
“Preventing and exterminating bed bugs helps protect your tenants, sure, but it also protects your and your business,” says Brooks. “Think of it like an investment in your reputation and financial future and you’ll see that bed bugs aren’t just an itchy nuisance, they’re a threat we all need to be taking seriously.”