News > Pest management in multi-unit residential buildings: 5 ways to do it better
Pest management in multi-unit residential buildings: 5 ways to do it better
September 24, 2021
Property management during the pandemic has required adjustment
We know that the last year hasn’t been easy for property managers, especially the ones who focus on multi-family residential properties and buildings with hundreds of tenants. The usual patterns of turnover, amenity usage and cleaning have all changed in response to lockdowns, a shifting economy, and the need for increased cleaning.
And while there may not be more ‘urban rats’ than there was before the pandemic, the truth is that when more of your tenants are spending more time at home for months on end, household pests like roaches, ants and silverfish have definitely become a more pressing problem for many multi-family residential developments. So how do you ensure that your properties are getting effective pest control, while ensuring your tenants are safe and your bottom line isn’t negatively impacted?
Top 5 tips for better pest management in multi-family residential properties
1. Short-term economies can mean long-term cost overruns
We know that property managers are often under pressure to reduce costs and reduce the per-unit spend on all kinds of maintenance, including pest control. But with so many things in life, before you choose the least-expensive pest control provider, make sure you know exactly what you’re getting and that you’re comparing apples to apples: Does the price include the entire building, including common areas? Does it make provision for return visits to tenants or units that couldn’t be done the first time? Does it include follow-up inspections?
If these things aren’t included, you could find yourself having to re-treat a building sooner than expected – and that could mean a big hole in your bottom line at the end of the year.
2. Ensure you know the history of the property and units
When you have hundreds or thousands of units to oversee in a given month, you may not realize that you’ve had to treat a particular unit, or floor, or cluster of suites more than you should have on a regular basis. Taking the time to examine the treatment history of your properties can alert you to problems before they spread to other units or floors.
(Ask your pest control provider if they have a client portal that can give you a line of sight into treatments on a per-building and per-unit basis. Reputable pest control partners should be able to provide you with data for your properties, and advise when they spot an issue.)
3 Train (and listen to) your superintendents
Good building superintendents know more about the day-to-day operations of the building, and the activities of the tenants, than anyone else. But without proper training and established guidelines, they may not know how to identify the early signs of pest problems, how to assess the issue, or how to escalate a request for treatment when they do identify a problem. Developing consistent training materials and guidelines that you can provide to your on-site staff can make a huge difference in keeping your buildings pest-free. And of course, once you’ve trained your staff, ensure you’re listening when they alert you to a burgeoning problem – swift action could mean big savings in the long run.
4. Recognize when pest problems are resulting in high tenant turnover
There can be many reasons for higher-than-usual tenant turnover in a particular multi-family residential property: Economic conditions, building maintenance problems, poor superintendents, changes in the neighbourhood, and local school or business closures can all drive turnover rates up. However, nothing will drive out great tenants faster than an uncontrolled pest infestation – but it’s often overlooked as a cause. It’s especially unfortunate, for landlords and property managers, because while no one can control changing economic conditions, pest infestations are both preventable and treatable. If you find a sudden spike in tenant turnover in a particular building, it’s worth considering whether pest problems are a factor.
5. Ensure common areas and utility rooms are included, treated and inspected
While multi-family residential properties are often priced and treated on a per-unit basis, the truth is that common areas can be a huge factor in whether pests are eradicated and prevented. Laundry rooms, boiler rooms, fitness areas and that disused kitchen in the former rec room in the basement are all potential hotspots for cockroaches and rodents, especially if they’ve fled from treated residential suites on higher floors.
When contracting with a pest control company, make sure the common areas are properly itemized (not just grouped under a ‘common areas included’ line item), treated, and inspected following treatment.
Want to learn more about pest management in your properties?
We can help you eliminate and prevent pest problems, reduce your total pest management costs, and train your on-site staff to recognize issues before they get out of hand. Just call us at 1.888.434.2739 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. We’re always happy to hear from you!