Bed bugs used to only be remembered from being part of that "Good night/sleep tight/don't let the bed bugs bite" saying. But in recent years, the pests have made a comeback, which is unfortunate to anybody who wants to have a good night's sleep. And it should be of particular concern to both property managers and landlords. Bed bugs aren't only found in beds. They have been spotted in libraries, hospitals, nursing homes, subways. Basically, anywhere people are, bed bugs can potentially be found, especially in areas where there is a high turnover of people, or a diverse population. In addition, due to the nature of multiunit housing, with shared infrastructure like walls, hallways, utility lines, floors, and ceilings, bed bugs can easily hop around from one apartment to another. So a bed bug infestation in one unit could potentially mean an infestation in multiple units if the bugs are not stopped in their tracks immediately. And the cost involved will be much lower if it is done early in the process. Being proactive is extremely important when it comes to bed bugs. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, as the saying goes. So what can property managers and landlords do to prevent bed bugs from taking hold? Have an integrated pest management plan in place. This checklist and professional tips for landlords and property owners is a good guideline for helping keep bed bugs out of your facility or kicking them out if they do show up.
Property Owners Checklist for Facility Bed Bug Detection, Prevention & Removal
- Train appropriate staff on how to spot bed bugs and signs of infestations. The staff should know what the bugs look like, what the common symptoms are and where they are likely to be found. There should also be housekeeping and maintenance procedures for staff to follow to keep bed bugs from taking hold.
- Do regular maintenance to keep bed bugs out. This can include items like caulking baseboards, tiles, cracks, and crevices to keep the bugs from hiding there. Removing clutter is also important, as is regular vacuuming.
- Keep records of things like bed bug inspections, complaints, and responses to the complaints, including bed bug abatement procedures.
- Have a written policy for all tenants to follow when it comes to reporting potential bed bug infestations. The policy should include how and when to submit complaints, and a written form for the tenants to fill out, to have a paper trail.
- If these are furnished apartments, have the mattress sealed in an encasement that keeps the bugs from getting in.
- Respond to any tenants' reports of bed bugs within 48 hours of the complaint.
- Have a licensed pest control professional available to inspect the residents' apartment and determine if there are bed bugs.
- If bed bugs are found, have the tenant launder their clothing and linens to stop the infestation. Give them plastic bags to seal and transport these items to the laundry so that the bugs don't escape and infest other areas. The high heat of a dryer will kill any bed bugs found in the textiles.
- Have a pest control professional determine which furniture in the infested apartment can stay, and which must be thrown out. Make sure to tightly wrap in plastic any items that must be disposed of so that the bugs do not escape
- Have a plan in place to temporarily give tenants in an infested apartment a new place to live while his or her apartment is being remediated, if the process will take more than a day.
- Let neighbors who live near the infested apartment know of the issue, and inspect and treat their apartments, if needed, to keep the bugs from spreading.
- Have written materials of fact sheets available for all tenants to read, so they know what to look for and watch out for when it comes to bed bugs.
- Also have a checklist of things for tenants to do to keep bed bugs out of their homes.
- Be compassionate with tenants if bed bugs are found. This is a difficult situation for all, but if you work together, you can help resolve the problems.
- Stay vigilant. Do regular inspections for bed bugs each time a tenant vacates an apartment.