Rentals

Dealing with Pest Infestation in Your Rental Property

Let’s get this straight; no one likes pests. No one wants them. They’re a problem for you and for your tenants. Pest infestation can be an incredibly negative hinderance on your rental business and needs to be sorted asap.

But what do you do and how do you go about identifying the problem and rectifying it? Plus, how do you ensure that all parties come through the experience happy? In this brief guide I aim to talk you through the aspects of having pests, what to do when you get that dreaded phone call.

Issues

Having pest infestation at your property can cause plenty more issues than you realise and it’s important that we cover some of these issues to ensure that you understand just how important it is to get the problem dealt with as soon as you can.

Tenants

Pests are a nightmare for tenants. They have to live with them. Knowing that their belongings are being affected by pests is a seriously unpleasant situation for tenants and one they will want handled quickly.

Obviously living with pests is a huge negative and this will not only affect your tenants in the short term whilst the situation is ongoing, but could also lead to them failing to pay rent if you are not quick to rectify the problem. It could also lead to wanting to break the lease or turning down the chance to renew the tenancy at the end of the lease period.

Clearly, these are not things that you want and rectifying the problem as fast as you can will really go a long way to plicating your tenants and getting them back onside and enjoying living at your property again.

Lease renewal on a property with pest infestation

As discussed, pests and particularly the failure to deal with pests will be viewed negatively by tenants and could make them think twice about renewing the lease. There is of course a logic that suggests if the tenants had kept the property better then maybe the pest problem wouldn’t have reared its ugly head, but I don’t think this is a line of reasoning I would advise my landlords to take.

Plain and simple, sort the problem (maybe have a conversation in relation to upkeep at the property) and let it go away. If dealt with quickly and professionally; pest issues should not hinder you going forward.

Damage

Aside from the issues you face dealing with the tenants, you also need to be aware that pests can and do cause huge amounts of damage if left untreated. Termites damage wood frame houses incredibly quickly, rats burrow into walls and furniture, plus leave urine trails everywhere they go and bees and wasps can be both dangerous to humans and cause long lasting damage to loft and attic spaces by building vast nests.

This damage can drastically affect the value of your investment. The problem will not only cost you money upfront to fix, but could also cut money from the value of the property if potential buyers are made aware of the lasting damage caused by a slow response to pest infestation.

Negative Experience

I touched on this briefly above, but this is something that you need to really put some thought into. Untreated pest issues will affect your tenants experience and cause problems at renewal.It can also affect your relationship with any property manager you have. A reluctance to rectify any issues on your part will be viewed negatively by a property manager who will view you as making their job harder due to your lack of interest in the issue.

Be conscious that you have multiple relationships with people when dealing with properties and a great property manager is not someone you should be upsetting. Used correctly, property managers can act as a strong line of defence to any issues you might face when renting out your property.

However, if they view you as a bad landlord don’t be surprised if your property manager start to become less communicative and less willing to assist you. A poor landlord, property manager relationship could also cause the company they work for to terminate any agreement they have with you. After all, it would be their name you are affecting negatively by your unprofessional behaviour.

Loss of Earnings

Pest problems can seriously hurt your pocket. Rectifying pest issues; particularly those left untreated for some time can be extremely expensive. Pest treatment is often also very invasive and could lead to you having to give the tenants a break from paying rent as they may have to check into a hotel or vacate the property to live with family or friends.

Be aware that the more time you take dealing with pest issues the more potential you have to lose money. Be it rent, emergency funds you have for the property or by suffering a decrease in value of your property. Sort the problem out as soon as you can to minimise your losses.

What to Do?

So, it’s clear that pests cause a number of issues. It should also be clear that you will need to sort out the problem as soon as it is reported to you. To be frank, a quick response will help both you and the tenants. So, ignoring the issue would not be advisable. It is rare that pests simply move on and you will eventually have to step in and sort the problem out.

But, what should you do? What are the steps you can take to avoid the problems discussed above. Let’s look in more detail at what you should be doing to sort out any pest issues you have.

Gain Information

Your immediate response to the report of pests is to try to gain as much information about the problem as possible. Find out where on the property the pets have been seen, what they are, how bad the infestation is and how long the problem has been going on.

You will need as much information as you can get to discuss the problem with pest control and make their job easier. You should also try to get examples of the pest, perhaps a photograph or pest sample to show the pest control team.

Finding out the size of the problem will also allow you to understand how severe the problem is and the size of the task ahead of you. It will also help you to budget and get an understanding as to how much the treatment is likely to cost you.

Identify the Problem

Find out how the pests have gained access to the property. Is there a flaw in the property that needs fixing, as well as the treatment of the pests? Some pests will enter properties through broken pipes, holes in ceilings or even damaged drains. You need to identify the entry point of the pests to avoid the problem happening again once the pests have been treated.

You may also need to have some difficult conversations with your tenants (which you may wish your property manager to handle). You will need to discuss keeping the property clean and tidy and how the tenants can play a role in ensuring that the problem doesn’t resurface after the initial treatment has been successful.

A positive approach moving forward from the tenants and an understanding of the part they can play in preventing pest infestation is a great help to all parties in the future.

What Types of Treatments are Available for Pest Infestation?

Speak with both a professional pest control company and your city’s pest control department. They will both be able to advise you as to the types of treatments you can use. It pays to discuss the different options and prices for these options. My advice would be to go for the more expensive and guaranteed options rather than cutting corners and risking the problem coming back.

These departments will also be able to help you ascertain whether you will need to compensate the tenants or allow them to move out of the property (potentially whilst not paying rent) so that you can have the problem fixed.

If you employ a property manager they may also be able to advise you on your city’s rules involving pests and what your responsibilities are towards the tenants.

Call in the Big Guns

Once you understand your obligations, have a clear idea of the pests you are dealing with and have budgeted to have the pests irradiated organise the start of treatment straight away.

Don’t sit on the problem as this can only make the multiple outcomes of this situation worse. Speak with a professional pest control team and have the property treated. Be it via fumigation, pest traps or a mixture of treatments you should be looking to get the problem sorted quickly. Most cities will have guidelines and timeframes that you as the landlord must adhere to to ensure that you are meeting your contractual obligations.

Take the advice of the pest experts, treat the problem and move on. Simple as that.

Future Issues

Post treatment carry out an inspection of the property to ensure that you are happy with the results. Discuss the issue again with the tenants and do what you can to avoid the problem resurfacing. As I said at the start, pest infestation is a problem for everyone and a joint effort moving forward to ensure the pests do not re-enter the property is the best approach.

It may at this stage pay to have an email conversation or letter sent out to the tenants breaking down what is expected of them in the future to assist with making sure the issue stays fixed.

Conclusion

Pest infestation problems are a pain, there’s no getting around that. But when dealt with in a timely manner any ongoing problems can be fixed relatively quickly and hopefully without the costs involved spiralling out of control.

Understanding that keeping the property pest free is a team effort and treating the issue as such will help keep your relationship with the tenants an amicable one. It is also a good idea to book in a number of inspections at relatively short intervals after the treatment period just to ensure that the problem doesn’t resurface.

So, in conclusion, get information on the issue. Fix the problem and make a game plan as to how to keep the pests away and ensure your tenants and you stick to it. Pre-planning, a little understanding and a speedy response are the key to ensuring that you (and your tenants) come out of the experience happy.

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