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Turning Over Apartments for New Residents – Not Pests

Steps for Incorporating Pest Control into the Unit Turnover Process

By Jennifer Brumfield, Training and Technical Specialist, Western Pest Services

Your residents have paid their final bills, turned in their keys, and returned their parking passes. But it’s only after their moving truck has left the premises that unexpected guests are found lingering in their apartment: pests.

Summer is peak moving season, which means many property managers experience increased unit turnover. And while there are always surprises when residents vacate a unit, few can be more damaging to an apartment community than an unresolved pest problem. Whether it’s cockroaches hiding under the refrigerator or mouse droppings found in a cabinet, a single unit’s pest problem can evolve into an apartment-wide infestation.

By understanding the pest threats to New Jersey apartment buildings and how pest control can be incorporated into unit turnover, your apartment community can save time and money.

Common Pest Threats

There are four primary pests that property management companies encounter during unit turnovers:

  1. Fleas: These parasites may be small, but they can be serious nuisance. Fleas often catch a ride into apartment units on residents’ pets or through rodents. Once residents and their pets vacate the premises, fleas can survive in the unit’s carpet or cracks in the floor.
  2. Bed Bugs: Bed bugs can be an apartment community’s worst nightmare. Not only do these pests reproduce quickly, but they are also capable of surviving for longer than six months without a blood meal. Once present, they can easily spread from one apartment to the next.
  3. Cockroaches: Aside from being a red flag to prospective residents, cockroaches can also introduce allergens and trigger asthma attacks for current residents. These pests are known to carry many disease-causing bacteria on their bodies, including Salmonella and E. coli., and they can indicate larger sanitation and maintenance problems within your building.
  4. Rodents: Mice and rats are unwelcome residents in apartment communities for several reasons: they can cause structural damage, be a fire hazard, and spread diseases including Hantavirus and salmonella.

Pest Management Tips

Turning over a unit must be done quickly; after all, time is money. But, leaving pest control out of the equation could be detrimental not just to new residents, but also to the apartment community at large. Once pests are present in a single unit, they can spread to other units throughout the building. The following pest management steps should be taken during the unit turn over process:

  1. Deep Clean the Carpet: Because pests can live in or feed off flooring, it’s essential to deep clean each unit’s carpet before a new resident arrives. This will help ensure pests and their eggs are eliminated.
  2. Clean up the Trash: Although a simple move-out step, many residents neglect to take the trash out of their unit before they leave. In fact, the most common pest issues that occur during move-out are often caused by leftover trash, which attracts pests like cockroaches and mice. Be sure to carefully inspect the apartment for any trash or debris.
  3. Remove Leftover Furniture or Bedding: Although units should be emptied prior to move-out, residents may leave behind furniture, bedding or clothes. These items should be inspected for bed bugs and removed immediately. If bed bugs are found, the infested items should be bagged before removing them from the unit. This helps prevent dislodging bed bugs down hallways, elevators and other areas of the building.
  4. Pest-Proof the Unit: Vacant units should be carefully inspected for any possible entryways for pests. Repair any visible cracks and crevices near doors and windows, seal gaps around plumbing and gas line lines, and install door sweep sand weather stripping. These simple steps can go a long way in keeping pests out.
  5. Have Your Pest Provider Come Out: Having your pest provider come out should be a standard operating procedure. Once the unit has been thoroughly cleaned, a pest management provider can carefully inspect the area for any pest signs and take preventive steps to help the next tenant have a pest-free experience.
  6. Communicate with All Parties: If a pest problem is found during a unit vacancy, the pest management provider should maintain an open line of communication with the property managers, cleaning staff and maintenance team. By being cognizant of the issue from the beginning, apartment communities can help prevent the issue from spreading.
  7. Schedule Routine Maintenance: Pest management should be a continuous process, not one that only occurs when residents vacate their units. A pest manager provider can work directly with your building’s staff to establish a year-round Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program, to proactively monitor and address pest threats. Collaboration is key, and an effective IPM strategy requires partnerships between the pest management provider, property manager, maintenance team and even current residents.

As summer nears and units turn over picks up, it’s more important than ever to put an effective pest management strategy into place. This strategy should pair a year-round IPM program with a standard pest operating procedure for unit turnover.

By combining these two efforts, you can help create a cleaner and healthier living environment for your residents and a better work environment for your property management team. After all, no one likes a tenant who doesn’t pay rent – especially one with six legs.