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Pest Management in Multi-Family Housing

By Chris Williams on July 15, 2013.

Apartments in BostonPest control in an apartment or condo is not quite as simple as in a single family home.

Your Pests Are Not Your Own

In most apartments and condo units, pests such as cockroaches, ants, and mice can easily move from one unit to another. They utilize openings around pipes or other common lines to move into walls and then follow pipe runs into the unit next door, or the unit above or below. If pests can get into wall or ceiling voids through electrical outlets, light fixtures, gas lines, or any other opening—they can visit you or the neighbors. Sometimes pests simply walk into a neighboring apartment through the opening under the door. Even bed bugs move from unit to unit in a building.

It’s well known in the pest control business that if you have just one or two badly infested apartments (we call them “focus” units), they can eventually feed cockroaches, bed bugs, or other pests to the entire building. In multi-family housing, we concentrate our efforts on those focus units.

It Takes a Village

In multi-family housing, it’s not just you against the pests. It’s you…and the property manager…and your neighbors…and the pest control contractor. Everyone has a job to do if pests are going to be controlled. If there’s a pest outbreak in a building, it will be impossible to eradicate unless everyone cooperates.

The Resident’s Job

  • Keep apartments clean and in good condition
  • Wash dishes regularly, or at least cover with soapy water
  • Clean countertops and stoves of grease and spills
  • Cover garbage cans and tie garbage bags
  • Remove garbage from the unit at the end of the day whenever possible
  • Report pest infestations and maintenance problems to management
  • Reduce clutter; keep closets, drawers, and cabinets organized and accessible; don’t store stacks of paper bags, cardboard, or newspapers
  • Cooperate with pest control service by allowing access and preparing for service as required

The Property Manager’s Job

  • Fix water leaks in units and in common areas
  • Seal wall and ceiling cracks and holes, especially where kitchen cabinets attach
  • Seal openings around electrical, gas, and pipe lines
  • Enforce a minimum standard of sanitation in apartments
  • Maintain the grounds, including dumpster or trash compactor management
  • Enforce resident cooperation with pest control service and inspections
  • Reschedule heavily infested, focus units for follow-up service

The Pest Control Contractor’s Job

  • Inspect units thoroughly
  • Use baits and/or insecticides when needed
  • Use nonchemical control methods whenever possible
  • Report maintenance problems needing correction
  • Report sanitation problems affecting pest control
  • Report lack of cooperation from residents
  • Provide inspection and/or service of all units on a regular schedule
  • Make sure heavily infested units receive follow-up service
  • Provide emergency service when needed
  • Provide management with service records, including sanitation and infestation ratings for units

Photo credit: Jaysun / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA

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