Owners and managers of apartment buildings are all-too-familiar with the threat of bed bugs. With the resurgence of bed bugs in recent years, there’s a lot of pressure to keep apartments free of bed bugs—or else face loss of tenants and forfeited rent payments, and possibly even lawsuits.
The following bed bug treatment guidelines will help anyone responsible for keeping apartments bed bug free.
- Approach bed bug treatment as a problem for the entire building and/or complex, not just a problem for those units that report infestation. Treating unit-by-unit will almost invariably fail as bed begs spread between units. If a unit is infested, adjacent units should also be inspected and treated if necessary.
- Train yourself and your staff. Pest control companies will need to be used, but apartment managers need to learn about bed bugs so that they can wisely hire a pest control company, educate tenants about how to prevent bed bugs, and constantly be on the lookout for potential causes of infestation.
- Don’t require tenants to pay for treatment. Many owners and managers have tried to pass on the costs of bed bug treatment to the tenants—resulting in tenants who don’t report the problem, a situation that leads to greater infestation as bed bugs spread to other units. The apartment complex will be much better off—from the owners’ and the tenants’ perspectives—if renters are quick to call attention to signs of bed bugs.
- Educate tenants on how to prevent, detect, and respond to bed bugs. Hold community meetings, distribute literature about bed bug prevention, put up signs near dumpsters and trash cans warning tenants not to put bed-bug-infested items into the trash, and develop a bed bug action plan (e.g., how to prepare a unit for a bed bug treatment from professionals).
- In your leases, include provisions that require tenants to report bed bugs and to cooperate with bed bug treatment, even if their apartment isn’t infested but is next door to a unit that is.
- Hire only pest control specialists with a documented history of controlling bed bugs and that use bed bug sniffing dogs, which are often necessary to pinpoint infestations. And if the pest control company doesn’t seem interested in helping you develop action plans and educate the tenants, then it isn’t the right company.