News > The 4 pillars of pest-free buildings
The 4 pillars of pest-free buildings
May 25, 2021
Get these 4 things right and your multi-unit property can stay pest-free
This time of year, we start to get an increased number of calls from property managers and superintendents: “We’re seeing a huge roach infestation in several units on the second floor – can you help?” and “Everything was fine until last week, when we suddenly started seeing a whole lot of rats on the main floor!”
Now, it’s tempting to think that the spring has brought an increased birthrate for household pests, and that’s part of it. But the truth is that in most cases ‘sudden’ pest infestations aren’t sudden at all. They’ve been building up over the preceding weeks and months without being noticed, until suddenly their numbers become so great that they can’t be overlooked any longer.
Pest control in multi-unit residential buildings:
Success starts with 4 key components
Effective pest control in apartments, condos and other multi-unit residential buildings isn’t difficult, really. But it does require sticking to a plan over the long-term.
Here are our 4 components of pest-free buildings:
1 Prevention, planning and strategy
The most successful pest control is ensuring that pests don’t get in to your building in the first place. For new buildings, this may mean making pest deterrents part of the building design and facilities management program; for older buildings, this may mean undertaking a thorough pest elimination program so you can ‘start fresh’ with prevention measures throughout the building.
But a pest-free building doesn’t stay that way by accident. Maintaining a pest-free (or pest-minimized) multi-unit residential building requires a long-term strategy involving regular inspections, prophylactic treatments, resident and staff education, and regular maintenance.
2. Address issues promptly
As soon as a resident or building employee identifies a problem, even if it’s just “Holy moly, I saw 2 mice downstairs”, it’s time to take action. (Remember: For every 1 pest you can see, you can assume there are at least 10-20 more you can’t see.)
Whether you need to put out traps for mice, call your pest control provider for spot-treatment of roaches, or inspect for bed bugs, don’t put it off.
3. Common areas & exterior
Most multi-family residential buildings have two main areas of vulnerability when it comes to pests: The exterior (since pests like mice, rats and ants come in from outside) and common areas (since pests like bed bugs and cockroaches can be transferred from one tenant to another in places like the laundry room).
We recommend weekly visual inspections of both these areas. Use a checklist (so you don’t forget that weird closet on the third floor) and a flashlight (to make sure you look behind washing machines and cleaning supplies) for signs of nascent infestations. If you see evidence of pests, you can treat them immediately – and since you’re checking every week, they won’t have time to get a tenacious foothold in your building.
4. Garbage areas
No one likes spending time in the garbage areas of a building, but the truth is that a huge proportion of mouse, rat and cockroach infestations start in a garbage area – which isn’t surprising, since garbage gives off very tantalizing odors for pests, and it tends to be darker than other areas of the building.
Here again, a weekly inspection combined with weekly cleaning can help prevent a small infestation from becoming a big one. Ensuring garbage areas are well-lit, are properly cleaned (and don’t forget the garbage chute, if your building has one), and that stuff isn’t allowed to pile up in corners for long periods of time will make a huge difference in the long-term.
Remember: Prevention is much easier (and much less expensive) than cure when it comes to pests
As a property manager or superintendent, you probably already have scheduled inspections and maintenance plans for things like plumbing, electrical, flooring, etc. because you know that identifying and addressing small items prevents them from becoming big problems. Adding pest-control activities to these plans will have the same effect – and help your building maintain a good reputation and better tenants for a long time to come.