How to Keep Pests Away From Your Rental Property
As the owner of a rental property, it’s in your interest to keep your tenants happy. One of the most important ways to accomplish this is to provide them with a pest-free home. While some pests are clearly more destructive than others, they are still a disruption that can devalue your property.
The Most Common Pests
In Ontario, the most common pests you’re likely to encounter are mice, rats, squirrels, raccoons, ants, birds, bats, ticks, cockroaches, opossums, red squirrels, fleas, flies, bed bugs, rodents, beetles, silverfish and termites. Depending on your specific location, your property may attract pests unique to that area. For example, cockroaches favour moist, humid environments. This would include the shadier areas, as well as sewers and drains throughout the country.
Causes of Infestation
There are a number of different ways pests can get into your property. Here are some of the most common ones.
1.) Windows and doors. Poorly sealed doors and windows are common entryways for household pests. Screens with holes and doors without door sweeps are easy for small pests to get in through.
2.) Vents. Although most property owners don’t give their vents much thought, bugs and small rodents can easily get in through there. The typical home has a maze of vents and ducts, some of which may not be properly sealed.
3.) Foundation. The home’s foundation can also provide a path in for pests, especially if you’re not aware that there’s a problem. The foundation provides a barrier between the house and the soil beneath it, so cracks and gaps should be sealed as soon as they’re discovered. Just because a crack is small doesn’t mean pests can’t get in.
4.) Walls. Walls provide a number of entry points and hiding places for pests. As with a foundation, cracks and gaps are easy to infiltrate. Any location where something passes through a wall (such as wiring or piping) creates another possible entryway.
5.) Chimneys. Unused chimneys create an ideal place for squirrels, rodents, raccoons and other creatures to hide. This is increasingly likely when the weather gets harsh since it offers a great source of protection from the elements.
Responsibility for Pest Prevention
Most states require landlords to keep their properties free of pests. However, some tenants may have habits that can make your job harder. Your best bet is to specify in your lease agreement that they are required to keep the house clean.
Keep in mind that it also makes good financial sense to take care of pest problems right away. Once a problem gets out of control, it can render a property un-rentable. Certain pests, such as termites, can actually tear apart the structure of the home, causing irreversible damage.
Tips for Preventing Pests
Here are some tips on how to prevent an infestation on your property.
1.) Educate your tenants. Since they live on the property, there’s a lot they can to do help avoid a pest problem. Make sure all new tenants understand the importance of throwing out their trash, cleaning, putting food away in sealed containers and keeping garbage lids closed. They should also notify the property manager if there are any issues with standing water.
2.) Regular inspections. Inspecting the property regularly is one of the best ways to spot potential problems. Make 3 or 4 visits a year and bring a list of items to check off. Look for cracks in the floor, walls and foundation. Get them fixed as soon as possible. Make sure the lids on the garbage bins are shut and get rid of any trash or clutter you find. Check the sump pump to make sure it works properly.
3.) Landscaping. If your rental property has a lot of greenery, decide who will be responsible for maintaining it and outline this in the lease agreement. Depending on how much work is involved, this could be as simple as cutting the grass. If it’s more extensive, you might consider a monthly landscaping service.
4.) Pesticides. Check with your local health department to make sure you’re familiar with local laws regarding pesticides. Use pesticides with an EPA registration number, whenever possible. This ensures the product has been thoroughly tested and deemed safe. Be sure to use the right product for the pests in question and never use outdoor pesticides indoors.
5.) Pest control services. If your property is located in an area known for certain pest problems, consider offering pest control services to your tenants to minimize the problem. You can have this written into the lease agreement, so any pest problems that come up between service times will be considered their responsibility.
6.) Fumigation. Fumigation requires evacuating all occupants from the house. The ideal time to fumigate is between tenancies since most professionals will want everyone out for three days. If you decide to fumigate while you have tenants, be sure to arrange for alternate lodging. Tenants will need to make sure all inside doors are left open and that all food is tightly sealed and put away.
It takes some effort to keep a rental property pest-free, but it’s one of the smartest business decisions you can make. The happier your tenants are, the more likely they will be to sign a lease renewal. This can save you the trouble of looking for new tenants while shouldering the costs of an ongoing vacancy.