Avoid Pest Issues. What does your lease say?
Who is responsible for pest control?
Avoid pest issues like roaches, ants, rodents found inside rentals can cause issues between landlords and tenants. Who's responsible? Who pays? Avoid pest issues by addressing it first, in your lease or at move-in. Ask direct "what if" questions, have answers in writing. Why? Pest issues in rentals can get confusing once there's a problem. Who is responsible to avoid pest issues or for regular pest control treatments? If you live in South Florida or a hot, humid location... you WILL have pests. It's inevitable. How do you avoid them?
Pest Control Clauses in a Lease
Does the lease specify how pest control issues are handled? Does it mention regular pest control treatments?
Landlords are responsible for handing over rental property pest-free. It's the law. They can't give you keys AND rats. So landlords must take the necessary steps and incur any expenses to rid the rental property from insects, roaches, spiders, lizards, rats, mice, etc. That is THEIR responsibility, and at THEIR cost. So when you move-in and take keys from your landlord, it is YOUR responsibility to inspect and ensure that there are no pests at that point. Why?
If you wait too long to report a pest control issue, your landlord may say that issue was caused by YOU, because you did not do enough to avoid pest issues in a timely manner. They'll say you weren't keeping food away, not cleaning up crumbs and spills, not keeping the property clean.
If your lease doesn't specify that the landlord is responsible for regular pest control treatments, or it specifies that the TENANT is responsible... you will now be paying a pest control company to come and take care of the issue.
What if the rental property was given over pest-free, but an infestation ended up happening during the lease?
It's common for landlords to want to immediately blame the tenants. But there are some circumstances where the tenant is not at fault for pests coming into the unit.
Avoid Pest Issues in Condos:
It's very possible for pests to come in through common/shared walls in a condo building. If the unit next door is having pest issues, those pests will find their way into your unit. The most common pest this happens with is German roaches. They are, in our opinion, THE WORST pest control issue to have in a rental property. Why? German roach nests are the hardest to find and eradicate. They build/live in these nests, most often in places not accessible or very hidden, and they reproduce rapidly. And they spread. And spread some more. All over.
They'll eat nearly anything, so you'll find them everywhere - not just the kitchen. They are small, and hide very easily from plain sight. German roaches are commonly found living in the crevices behind refrigerators, underneath ovens, behind baseboards, inside electrical outlets, and EVEN IN VIDEO GAME CONSOLES! YUCK!! Avoid pest issues like German roaches at all costs! Buy a $15 bottle of insect treatment from The Home Depot. and spray the perimeter/baseboards and doorways of the entire property once a month, every month. This will help make sure nothing comes in. Remember, in condos... you are SHARING pests with your neighbors. They spread through the walls, under doors and windows, through outlets and even through plumbing and pipes.
Condo associations generally do provide pest control services for the common areas of a condo community, so this does cut down on any possible infestations. There should be few/no rodents or ants, common roaches in the exterior portions of the building and common areas which could get inside. However, with German roaches and similar pest issues.... they often come inside with moving boxes, inside used appliances or furniture. Once they hitchhike in, they multiply. And they can then spread to surrounding units on the inside, which won't be affected by any pest control efforts done by the association on the outside.
So it's important for landlords not to place blame on their tenants right away. If tenants notice even ONE German roach, notify both the association AND the landlord that there may be a potential issue. If there is one German roach, there are many more near by, it's a FACT. Ask if any surrounding units have also reported an issue. Ask the association to intervene and see if they will send notices to the landlords and tenants of the surrounding units. And treat the unit. If there's only 1-2 roaches found, you can try a home treatment first. It's inexpensive, and very effective to get rid of a couple German roaches that are on an expedition to find a new home. Don't let them move in! If there are more than a few roaches, you must call in a professional immediately. Quick! They can reproduce by the hundreds every day.
Pests in Single Family Homes:
Pests in single family houses commonly include a much larger range of issues. We've had opossums scratching under the master bathtub of a house in the middle of Miami, a family of raccoons living in an attic of a large two story home in the middle of Kendall (Miami), German roaches, ants, termites, and snakes. (no, never an alligator!)
Pest infestations in single family houses usually can not be attributed to neighbors. So tenants must be very vigilant in taking action to avoid pest issues, because they will most likely be held responsible. And will need to pay for the costs associated with these pest control issues.
There are certain pests that won't be a tenants responsibility. For instance, termites do spread, but there is nothing that a tenant can do to deter termites. The only thing they can or should be held responsible for in order to avoid pest issues is reporting the issue if they see a sworm of termites, a pile of termite wings or other suspicious wood-related bug activity. More on termite issues below-
Who's at fault, and does it matter?
The fault of pest control issues can matter significantly, if the cost to remediate pest issues is involved. If tenants are asking the landlord to provide pest control service in order to eradicate pests... is it really the landlord that has to pay?
The lease needs to be clear. Who is ultimately responsible to avoid pest issues? If responsibility isn't very clearly outlined in the lease, you'll need to go by Florida Landlord/Tenant law. But it can get tricky. It will often come down to who was responsible (if anyone), who will pay for the pest control treatments, was anyone negligible in not reporting fast enough, allowing the problem to worsen and become more costly?
Most Common Pest issues:
These are small, and in our opinion, THE WORST pest to find in a rental property. They can range from tiny on up to about an inch long. They run and scatter fast. They are anywhere from light tan in color to brown. There can be one or hundreds. But when you see one, make no mistake - there are hundreds not far away. They nest, and live in communities. And they hide those nests and communities well: inside walls, behind baseboards, inside of video game consoles, under refrigerators and ovens, inside attics and tiny crevices, and even behind electrical outlets. They are nasty, and very hard to get rid of.
They like warm humid areas like kitchens and bathroom, but can be found almost anywhere. They are scavengers and eat nearly anything: crumbs, food particles in sinks, toothpaste, books, even soap!
They reproduce RAPIDLY. One adult roach can lay 40 eggs in a single day. They can live 3-6 months, and will reproduce 3-4 times in that lifetime (with up to 40 eggs each time!). You can go from a couple of German roaches, to over 1000 in just a few months.
It is nearly impossible to eradicate a German roach infestation. Avoid pest issues like German roaches at all costs!! If you have seen only a few... you may be able to eradicate the problem yourself. Use a home treatment gel. It works, and remains effective for many months. But if you have an infestation? You need a professional to find the nest(s) and eradicate them from that/those areas, which are often hard to locate and not easily accessible. Otherwise, the infestation will quickly spread through walls and pipes, will spread outside and into other properties, and your unit will never be rid of these NASTY little creatures.
IF there's only a couple of German roaches, and no sign of an infestation yet... you can try to end the problem before it begins with a home treatment. Use this chemical as directed, and after a day or two, you should see dead insects. But if there is still any sign of live ones... call the professional.
It is not worth wasting any time, a German roach issue will only get bigger and more expensive and harmful with time.
These ants are tiny, and depending on the type will be either tan, orange or black in color. The males can be winged, but they aren't as common to see. Sugar ants will start with one, and all of a sudden there will be a trail of one hundred. They are attracted to food. Spills, crumbs, food traces. They can be in cabinets, under refrigerators, in drawers. To avoid pest issues like trails of tiny ants everywhere, keep the kitchen super clean, and sinks dry, clean up spills right away and don't leave any crumbs or open food containers.
Sugar ant infestation?
Home treatment to try: ant killer bait gel. If the infestation hasn't grown to epic proportions yet, you may still be able to handle it yourself! We've used this treatment successfully. Make sure to follow the directions. And make sure the kitchen is kept SUPER clean, free from all food/spills/crumbs/moisture. No dirty dishes in the sink overnight, no crumbs in the bottoms of drawers. Do this, and you'll eradicate the problem.
Don't like chemicals? Use vinegar completely clean the kitchen, top to bottom, inside to out. Then continue using vinegar regularly to clean countertops, etc daily. Vinegar is an excellent natural cleanser, great alternative to using bleach. And ants hate it!
Termites thrive in humid environments and eat wood. They are very common in South Florida. For whole house infestations, it's a common remedy to tent the whole house. It take a few days, and no humans or animals can enter the tent until it's all clear.
If the whole house hasn't been effected, it's possible to do spot treatments, and we recommend seeking out the services of professionals for these two scenarios.
But if you've notice just a small section of wood being eaten by wood, which is surrounded by concrete and plaster and therefore the termites have most likely no other surrounding wood to have spread to... you may be able to take care of the issue yourself. Avoid pest issues like termites with foam gel. It works well to get into crevices and spots you may not be able to spray or spread gel products into successfully.
We have used this foam successfully to treat small termite infested areas in both a door frame and also wood trim on patios and fascia.