Getting Rid of Pests in Your Rental

Nobody wants to discover cockroaches and mice crawling throughout their property. As a landlord, you should strive to prevent them from getting inside in the first place.

Talk to Your Tenants

You should encourage your tenants to notify you as soon as possible if they encounter pests in their unit. Tell them that open windows and doors (without screens) are an invitation for all sorts of creatures, so they should always be careful. Taking out the trash and maintaining the unit’s cleanliness is the tenant’s responsibility, so be sure to enforce this idea. Any damage caused by the tenant’s negligence will have financial repercussions. Cleanliness is essential to keeping pests out of a property. You should send your tenants a monthly email reminding them to put in maintenance requests if necessary.

Perform Preventative Maintenance

The best way to stop pests from entering your rental property is performing preventative maintenance.

  • Exterminate regularly. Every year, you should try to fumigate your rental units — even if there hasn’t been a sign of pests. This will keep your property clean and stop small issues from growing into big ones.
  • Seal up cracks and crevices. Inspect your property for any small holes that critters could fit through. Look for gaps around doors, windows, pipes, screens, siding, and roofs. You can use steel wool, caulk, cement or caps to seal up these crevices.
  • Have proper waste receptacles. Make sure that tenants have proper waste bins to dispose of garbage. They should be sturdy and have lids. Check your state laws to see what the requirements for trash bins are. If you own a multi-unit property, it’s probably a good idea to provide tenants with a large, common dumpster.
  • Remove standing water from the property. Standing water is any pool of water that is not flowing or draining. This can be a result of a storm or leaky pipes. If there is standing water anywhere on the property, it’s important to take care of the issue immediately. Water is a breeding ground for insects and also attracts rodents.

Pest Control

If pests have already set up camp in your unit, then it’s time to take extreme measures. It’s difficult to get pests out of a property, but it’s not impossible. In order to save money, you should attempt to solve the problem on your own. However, if the infestation is very serious, you may have no other choice but to hire a professional exterminator.

Mice and Rats

Here are some DIY methods for getting rid of those pesky rodents.

  • Traps: A traditional snap trap is usually a sure-fire way of eliminating mice and rats. Forget what you’ve seen on old cartoons; a cube of cheese is not the ideal bait for these critters. Rats and mice typically eat seeds and nuts, so the best bait is a dollop of peanut butter or hazelnut spread. You want to place traps perpendicular to walls, in areas that you have seen signs of rat or mice (like droppings). Keep in mind that if you catch a rat in a mouse-sized trap, the rat will typically not die. You will have to carefully release the rat into the wild, away from the property.
  • Poison: Poison is very effective in getting rid of pests. However, certain kinds can be harmful to pets and people. Carefully read the labels on anything you purchase. You can use poison that comes in special pet-proof and child-proof containers. Place them in corners and entryways for maximum effect.
  • Live traps: These kinds of traps are cages that will allow you to trap the critters without killing them. Use the right kind of bait, and the rats and mice will walk right in. Release the critters back into nature — just far away from where you caught them.

Birds and Bats

To keep birds and bats out, you need to ensure that any potential entryways are sealed. Look for holes or crevices in the roof and walls. If there is a bird or bat already inside, you should provide them with a way of getting out. Open a window or door and carefully guide the animal out. You don’t want to trap a bird or bat inside since they will likely starve and die.


Roaches are gross, relentless creatures. It may seem like getting rid of them is impossible, but where there’s a will there’s a way.

  • Bait stations: This method is effective for getting rid of most of the roaches in the area, but it does not completely wipe them out. Depending on how large the infestation is, you may need something stronger. Roaches are attracted to the bait stations, where they eat poison and then return to their dwellings to die. Other roaches will then feed on the carcass, thereby transferring the poison and killing more.
  • Gel bait: Gel bait is another good way of killing roaches. This usually comes in a tube, which you can use to apply the gel to cracks, crevices, and baseboards. Roaches will encounter the toxic gel and die — however, don’t be surprised if there’s a bunch of dead roaches scattered throughout the unit.
  • Boric acid powder: Boric acid powder is one of the best methods for killing roaches. It’s also quite easy to misuse and the powder is likely to be dispersed by air currents and come into contact with pets or people. You should apply it to the entirety of the property, along with another roach-killer. Using boric acid is very effective, but it shouldn’t be your only method.

Ants and Other Bugs

Once ants are crawling everywhere, there’s not much you can do about their existence. This is why pesticide is the most effective method to get rid of them. It’s important to eliminate the source of the ants — what you see isn’t what you get. Watch the ants and see where they are coming from and going to. When you figure out their trail, you’ll be able to efficiently spray the pesticide in the areas that count. Spraying a product like Home Defense all over the exterior of the building, on the floor inside, and by all the entryways should do the trick.

The Bottom Line

If your tenants are keeping their units clean and you’re filling maintenance requests as soon as possible, then pests shouldn’t be a problem. The best form of pest control is prevention, so always monitor the status of your property and communicate with your tenants.

Jaleesa Bustamante