According to the U.S. Census Bureau, around 14 million American households reported the presence of roaches in their residences, while around 14.8 million reported seeing rodents. Hence, there’s a high chance that your tenants will call you one day to complain about pests in the rental property. When that day comes, you’ll want to be prepared, so we’ve put together this guide for you.
What should landlords do when a tenant complains about pests?
Pests are a common issue among landlords, so don’t panic if your tenant complains about a pest infestation. Stay calm and address the issue ASAP as it can rapidly turn into a serious concern. If you or your property management firm fails to take action, you will likely find yourself at the losing end of a lawsuit. Not sure how to approach pest issues in your South Florida rental property? Here’s what you should do:
#1 Respond to your tenant’s complaint
You shouldn’t waste your time when it comes to pest control. The moment your tenant calls to complain about pests, address their concerns as soon as possible. Your tenants will probably be disturbed by the situation, so as the landlord, it is your responsibility to assure them that you’re handling it. Keeping your tenants happy is the key to getting them to renew their lease agreement.
The longer you don’t address the pest problem, the more pests you’ll deal with down the road. Pests breed rapidly, so it’s best to deal with the situation while it can be contained. If you don’t, prepare to spend thousands of dollars on property repairs. Pests will gnaw and chew on wood, damaging the structural integrity of your rental unit. Prepare to face long periods of vacancies if that’s the case.
#2 Get the full story from your tenants
While you shouldn’t take your tenant’s complaints with a grain of salt, you should still maintain some skepticism. It’s likely that your tenants freaked out and mistook the sock under their bed as a rat. If you own a townhouse or a multi-family property, contact all of your tenants to see how widespread the issue really is.
You don’t need to go to your rental unit. You or your property manager can simply call the tenant to get the gist of the issue. Your tenant should be as detailed as possible, telling you where they saw the pest and what type of pest it was.
#3 Find out what type of pest it was
Unless the pest is a common one, such as a rat or ant, chances are that your tenant will have a hard time telling what it is. There’s also a chance that they incorrectly identified the pest, for instance, identifying a beetle as a roach. It is important to get the type of pest right so that the pest control specialist can use the correct methods. For example, rat poison is used to get rid of rodents, while pesticide spray is used for roaches. Aside from taking your tenant’s word for it, look around the property for signs of droppings, nests, and so on.
To be sure, call in a specialist that can identify the type of pest for you. A property management company can help you secure this service at a competitive price.
#4 Locate the pests’ hiding spot
Find out where the pests are hiding and how they are entering the rental property. Pests prefer to hide confined spaces, such as behind cupboards and in the attic. They also tend to hide in dirty areas, which is why it’s important to encourage your tenants to thoroughly clean the unit.
- Under furniture. Bed bugs hide in places where they can feed on people, such as under beds, couches, and chairs. In case of a large-scale infestation, they can hide behind curtains and inside outlets.
- Holes in the wall. If your walls have crevices that are less than an inch wide, mice and insects can use them to enter the unit.
- Attic. Insects tend to stay in warm spaces such as the attic. If your roofline isn’t sufficiently sealed, they will find a way to get inside. If there’s a good chance that you’re dealing with a large-scale infestation, call a professional to inspect it.
- Months chew on clothes, so you’ll likely find them in your closet.
- The garage is a popular hiding place for pests, especially if you store birdseed, dog food, etc. in it.
#5 Get rid of the pesky pests
Now that you know where the pesky pests are hiding, it’s time to get rid of them for good. Keep in mind that some methods such as tenting and bug bombing can be dangerous to pets and people. Hence, it would be safer to hire a professional than to do it yourself. As the landlord, your tenant’s safety should be of prime importance.
#6 Make sure the pests don’t come back
When you’ve taken care of pest control, make sure that they don’t come back. To avoid dealing with pests ever again, conduct regular property inspections. Walk through the perimeter of the property to check for cracks and other areas where pests can enter the unit. If you don’t live near your investment property, consider enlisting the services of a property management company.
When should the tenant pay for pest control?
Although pest control is part of property management, that doesn’t mean that the landlord should cover the costs every time. In the event that the pest infestation was caused by the tenant’s negligence (e.g. failing to clean the unit), they can be held liable. However, it’s worth mentioning that landlords should maintain a rental unit that’s “fit” to live in, and that they are bound by the implied warranty of habitability. Hence, the landlord should take reasonable steps to maintain the upkeep of the property — for instance, addressing structural issues. The tenant, on the other hand, should hold up their end of the deal by cleaning the unit, as stated in the rental contract.
When pests move in with your tenants, you’ll have to act fast. That’s why you should partner with a reliable property management company such as Luxury Property Care. Our team will deal with the pest problem in no time so that you and your tenants can rest easy. Having been in the industry for more than a decade, we’ve established partnerships with some of the state’s top pest control companies. That way, we can ensure that your home is handled by only the pros.