It is a lot simpler than people make it out to be. First, were bed bugs present before a tenant moved in? Was there a previous infestation that a tenant did not tell you about? You, as the owner of the property, did you check for bed bugs with a scent detection dog BEFORE you rented out the unit? This seems to be a huge problem with these properties across the US.
A Quick, But Valuable Lesson for All Property Owners
When one of your renters moves out, you are normally given enough of a notice so you can prepare the unit to place it back on the market for your next renter. Problems that happen during this transition period are: the owners go in and clean, paint and get the place ready but do not check to see if bed bugs are present. If the tenant had bed bugs and moved (taking some of the bugs with them), surely there will be bed bugs left behind hiding in the tack strips of carpeting, behind the walls or in cracks or crevices around windows or doors.
Now a new tenant moves in and receives bites within a few days. You receive the call and you automatically assume they brought the bed bugs with them. Problem is – you cannot prove it! Again, you cannot prove it. You call in your pest control person or send in your do-it-yourself maintenance person to squirt chemicals and think the bed bugs are gone.
Two weeks later, you receive another complaint, but this time it is from the downstairs unit. Now you are mad thinking the new renter has now caused an even bigger problem for you and because you have no understanding of bed bugs or their nature, you point away cursing the day your new tenant moved in.
Now you go in and have the downstairs unit treated. All this time you are thinking the problem is gone now. Since you have never dealt with bed bugs, your train of thought or mentality is that of a flea or ant problem which is easily eliminated with proper treatment.
Another few weeks pass and get another call from the new tenant saying they are still being bitten.
That single bed bug treatment you did when you new tenant moved in, spread the bed bugs into surrounding units, but you didn’t know that. Furthermore, you didn’t know that your tenant that moved out had bed bugs in the first place and you rented out a unit complete with bed bugs! Before long, six of twelve units are now complaining of bed bugs. At this point if you do not jump through the proper hoops to get this problem taken care of right away, you risk being sued.
To save you from the continuing saga of how bed bugs spread easily in multi-unit properties, I will fast track to the only way to have success with bed bugs in these types of properties.A simple but focused program includes:
- Make sure your staff and maintenance workers are fully trained on signs of bed bugs
- Have a baseline inspection by a scent detection team to check and see if there are any bed bugs anywhere in your property.
- If bed bugs are present, have them the units treated for properly. Not some spray and pray in one unit. Treat all surrounding units around the unit that has bed bugs, assuring complete containment.
- Follow-up with an inspection to make sure all the bed bugs are gone
- Create an awareness within your building that includes ALL TENANTS by educating them
- Provide a fair and equitable Bed Bug Addendum to all tenants, whether existing residents or new tenants.
- Don’t shame your tenants or make them feel guilty – bed bugs can even happen to you!
- Have each unit that a tenant moves out of checked either before they move out or immediately after and before any maintenance is performed
- Have regular inspections to stay on top of early stages so that an infestation does not build up and spread into walls and structures
- Post information on bed bugs in laundry rooms and social areas to keep everyone updated
This simple but productive proactive protocol is used successfully to keep bed bugs down to “occurrences” instead of “infestations” in many multi-unit properties.
Remember, if you have no rules, policies and procedures, bed bugs will continue, and you will be pointing the finger whenever an occasion should occur.
Remember it is your building, and tenants will come and go. Ultimately, you will be left holding it together. Focused on meeting you budget? Unless you can afford to spend lots of money every time someone brings up bed bugs then you need to start a preventative program.
We can set up a proactive program keeping you safe from whole building “infestations” by educating you, your staff; inspecting your whole building and helping you stay on top of every such bed bug occurrence. Call MassBedBugBusters.com @ 508-713-8267