Bed Bugs are a difficult problem for apartments and multi-family units. It can be very expensive to treat an infested property. However, not addressing the problem will only make the infestation worse and more costly for you. One of the most important things property owners/managers can do is to educate their residents about bed bugs.
Communicating with Residents
Talk to your residents about how to prevent bed bugs from entering the building. See the factsheet “How to Prevent Bed Bugs From Entering Your Home” for more information.
Encourage your residents to immediately report any problems with bed bugs, or suspected bed bugs. Make information on how to identify bed bugs readily available to your residents. Our Let’s Beat the Bug! campaign has developed a simple poster you can print out and display around your property to raise awareness of bed bugs.
Remember that the person reporting the bed bug issue may not have been responsible if they picked up bed bugs from somewhere in the building or the bed bugs dispersed from an unreported infestation. Consider having an amnesty program for individuals who report bed bugs.
If residents are afraid to report bed bug infestations, or are held financially liable, then they may try to treat the infestation themselves, just live with the pest, or break the lease and move to another location. This will cause the infestation to spread and become more difficult and more expensive to treat. Worse, residents may take control measures themselves which can leave you with a damaged apartment or cleanup costs that are substantially more than a proper control procedure would have cost.
Train your maintenance personal to actively check for signs of bed bugs and other pests when they enter apartments for routine maintenance issues.
Tip: Discourage scavenging of furniture from off the curb or from the trash.
Bed Bug Treatment
When dealing with bed bugs you should contract with a pest management professional (PMP) experienced in working with bed bug infestations. See the factsheet “Hiring a Pest Management Professional”. Using over-the-counter insecticides will not solve a bed bug problem. Surviving infestations will become worse, spreading into other rooms or units.
The first step in bed bug treatment is a thorough inspection by the Pest Management Professional (PMP). When a resident reports bed bugs you should have the PMP inspect not only their apartment but also all neighboring apartments including those above, below and across the hall. If one resident has bed bugs it is possible that others do as well. The earlier you can catch and treat an infestation the easier and less expensive it will be for you.
The PMP should not only control an infestation, but should also provide you with a plan for preventing and managing bed bugs in the entire facility. From our experience, if you continually encountering infestations in the building, you should consider inspecting every unit as there may be other unreported infestations. Regularly inspect common areas such as lounge areas and laundry facilities. For more information on treatments see the factsheet “Understanding Bed Bug Treatments”
Keep records of bed bug infestations and treatments; this will allow you to see if the rate of infestation is changing and patterns of infestation within the apartment complex. Having this information will help you and your PMP, treat infestations and prevent future infestations.
Steps for Residents to Take
Depending on the type of treatment you choose there will be different steps the residents have to take before treatment begins. It is important that you work closely with your residents to make sure they understand and follow the instructions provided by the PMP. Treatment will not be successful unless these instructions are closely followed.
These steps often include:
- Laundering clothing and linens
- Cleaning and organizing to reduce clutter and simplify the area that needs to be treated
- Using Pest-proof covers on mattresses and box springs
- Moving furniture and other items so all the edges of the room are accessible
- Emptying closets, bedside tables and dressers