Pest Control for Apartments: How to Keep Your Rental Property Pest-Free

Pest Control for Apartments: How to Keep Your Rental Property Pest-Free

If you own or manage an apartment building or other rental property, you probably know that pest control can be a daunting challenge.

Multifamily environments — such as apartments, townhomes and condominiums — face a number of unique risks when it comes to pests.

  • Infestations spread quickly and easily. With so many units sharing so many floors and walls, pests have no trouble finding a favorable spot to eat, breed and cause havoc. Individual units and communal areas alike can be a source of pests.
  • It’s hard to find the source of a pest problem. The large number of entry points and potential breeding sites makes it especially difficult to locate the source of an infestation.
  • Pests can cause significant structural damage to your property. Examples would be rodents chewing through electrical wires or termites and their voracious appetite for wood.
  • Pests may also impact the health of tenants. They can spread diseases and affect indoor air quality, which may trigger allergic reactions and asthma attacks.

Instead of waiting for pest problems to get out of hand, many property owners and managers are discovering that a proactive approach can be more effective.

An integrated pest management (IPM) program focuses on prevention and rapid treatment in conjunction with a professional pest control partner.

IPM can provide more effective, long-term pest control and offers many potential benefits for landlords and tenants alike:

  • Eliminate conditions that lead to infestations
  • Focus on maintenance and timely repairs
  • Deprive pests of food, water and shelter
  • Many pest-proofing repairs are inexpensive and easy to do
  • Prevent pest-related damage
  • Improve building quality
  • Improve air quality
  • Reduce resident complaints

Let’s take a look at a few ways to get started with an IPM program for your rental property.

#1: Eliminate Food, Water and Shelter

Pests need three things to live — food, water and shelter — and they find an ample supply of these things in human environments.

Effective pest control begins with proper management of these three items. Just a tiny unsealed crack, or a small amount of improperly stored food can attract hundreds of cockroaches, rodents and other pests.

  • Make sure garbage containers have tight-fitting lids.
  • Encourage residents to rinse recyclables.
  • Only allow garbage disposal in limited, designated areas.
  • Frequently remove litter from property and grounds.
  • Keep sidewalks, grounds and commons areas clean and picked up.
  • Inspect garbage containers for gnaw marks, scratches and other signs of pest activity.
  • Seal all cracks and holes that could serve as entry points.
  • Fix all plumbing leaks promptly.
  • Pay attention to water sources such as pools, ponds, birdbaths, flower pots and pet bowls.

#2: Inspect and monitor consistently

While prevention should always be your first line of defense, the reality is that sometimes pests will still occasionally find their way onto your property.

That’s why early detection and treatment should be a top priority. Regular pest inspections by a trained and licensed professional can help you locate and treat infestations in a timely manner.

  • Initial pest inspection. Don’t just wait and call the exterminator when you actually see pests. Instead, have your pest professional conduct an initial inspection of your property.
    • Inspect exterior and interior locations
    • Identify and treat existing infestations
    • Identify and correct conditions that could support infestation, such as open cracks or improperly stored garbage
    • Prepare a written report of inspection findings
    • Recommend appropriate actions to eliminate current infestations and reduce the risk of future ones
  • Vacant unit inspections. When tenants leave a rental unit, they may leave behind trash, used furniture and unrepaired structural problems that could attract cockroaches, rodents and other pests. Before the next resident moves in, include a thorough pest inspection as part of your standard cleaning and maintenance process.
  • Ongoing monitoring plan. Talk to your pest professional about establishing a regular inspection schedule. Determine how often inspections should occur, which areas should be inspected and monitoring methods to use such as baits or traps. Be sure to notify residents ahead of time if and when their individual units are due for inspection.

#3: Educate Tenants about Integrated Pest Management

Your tenants also play an important role on your pest management team. Here are a few tips you can give them to enjoy living in a pest-free apartment.

  • If you see something, say something. Tell residents to report pest problems at the first sign of an infestation. Early detection and treatment will be more effective at eliminating pests and reducing the risk of pest-related health problems and structural damage. Many residents are embarrassed to admit they have a pest problem, especially bed bugs. The reality is that an infestation is nothing to be ashamed of and can happen to anyone, no matter how hard they try to keep their apartments clean.
  • Don’t let the bugs in. Make residents aware of all the ways pests could enter individual apartments.
    • Avoid second-hand furniture when possible. If residents do have used furniture, have all items thoroughly inspected before bringing them into an apartment.
    • Inspect packages before bringing them in.
    • Check luggage for pests when returning from travel.
    • Check under sinks for leaks and unwanted moisture.
    • Repair leaks and seal cracks and crevices immediately.
  • Don’t let the bugs eat. Residents can eliminate sources of food and water by keeping their apartments clean and dry and using care when removing garbage.
    • Make sure food is stored in sealed containers, and keep counters and sinks free of spills and crumbs.
    • Don’t leave dirty dishes in the sink or pet food out overnight.
    • Reduce clutter by recycling paper and cardboard instead of leaving it lying around the apartment.
    • Keep garbage in sealed containers, rinse recyclables and remove garbage daily.

#4: Hire qualified pest management services

A successful IPM program requires partnering with a qualified, licensed pest professional who knows the unique needs of a rental property like yours.

  • Research pest control companies. Ask for reviews from other customers by word-of-mouth and read online reviews. Ask lots of questions when talking to prospective pest control partners. Pay close attention to their customer service — how quickly do they respond to calls? Do they provide timely service? Do they give you ample detail on the procedures and treatments they use? Choose a partner who will do an inspection before recommending and beginning treatment.
  • Ask about treatment options. Use the least toxic pest control methods available. Preventive actions like sealing entry points and eliminating garbage are your first line of defense. When choosing chemical treatments, apply conservatively and go with substances that pose the lowest level of risk to humans and pets.
  • Keep a detailed record of pest management activity. Track your pest control efforts over time to make sure you’re getting the results you want for the money you spend. Keep records on where infestations are found most often, preventive measures implemented, pesticides applied and their effectiveness. Track pest-related complaints from residents and work done in individual units.


Are you having trouble with pests in your apartment complex or other rental property?

Contact Fight the Bite right away. We’ll answer your questions and help you implement a pest management plan to eliminate current infestations and reduce your risk of future ones.