In short? Yes. Landlords have a responsibility to keep pests out of their buildings, just like they’re in charge of plumbing and electrical utilities. Part of that responsibility is also making sure your tenants have what they need to keep pests out of their living spaces in the first place.

The most effective way to coordinate pest control of a multi-tenant complex is to cooperate with your residents. Make sure everyone knows what they need to do and has what everything they need to combat pests in your building. A pest infestation will affect everyone–you and all your tenants–after all. Here are some best practice tips for how both you and your tenants can keep pests out of your building:

Post-cooking clean up

Along with seeking shelter, trying to get easy access to food is the #1 reason why pests do anything… including creeping into buildings. You probably can’t totally cut off food access to pests, but luckily, you don’t have to. All you have to do to drastically reduce your risk of pest infestation is make food harder to come by.

To that end, encourage your tenants to clean up their cooking and dining spaces after every meal. Try to discourage them from leaving food or snacks sitting out all day, especially when they go out. Make sure they always have everything they need to keep their food stored safely. Clean up communal eating areas like grills or community dining rooms frequently. Take out all the garbage as often as possible. Lead by example: the cleaner you keep your building, the cleaner your tenants will keep their own spaces.

Garbage can care

Speaking of garbage cans, taking proper care of any trash is another critical way to keep pests from overwhelming you–and it’s everyone’s responsibility. Make flyers or other notices reminding your tenants of proper garbage can usage: keep all cans and bins securely covered when not in use. Empty them into the outside dumpster as soon as they’re full or at least twice per week. Don’t leave any garbage sitting out around apartments, even if it’s in bags.

This is another opportunity landlords have to lead by example. Coordinate the regular maintaining and cleaning of all communal garbage dumpsters as frequently as possible. If you have a trash chute in your building, have it cleaned frequently. When your tenants see that you take trash collection seriously, they will too. You could even provide the kind of effective sealable, tough garbage bags you want them to use in your garbage pick up area.

Encourage reporting – and end the pest stigma

One of the biggest reasons why pest infestations become significant problems for apartment complexes all over New York is because they aren’t reported early enough. This probably happens because of the stigma associated with having pests. Tenants of apartments are afraid they’ll be blamed for the pest infestation, so they try to take care of it themselves in secret or otherwise ignore it until it goes away on its own. Unfortunately, neither of these responses usually work.

Not only should you make sure your tenants never feel ashamed to report bugs, but you should actively encourage them to do so. The earlier your tenants report pest problems to you, the faster you can hire someone to do something about them and the less damage they’ll inflict–on both your property and your tenant’s belongings. Stopping pests early is in everyone’s best interests, and shaming and finger pointing just slows the process down. Get rid of it!

Schedule inspections

You should schedule full, professional pest inspections of your property around twice a year. These inspections can find the kind of damaging pest infestations that often go overlooked and, even more importantly, stop other pest infestations before they happen. Ultimately, investing in preventative inspections early is always more cost effective than being forced to invest in reactive pest control. It’s also yet another great way to lead by example.

As a landlord, it’s important to frame these inspections the right way. Again, you should never use inspections as a kind of punitive, threatening measure. Never shame your tenants for their perceived fault in introducing pests into your building. Instead, make sure tenants know you are conducting these inspections on their behalf and that no one will ever be punished for their findings. Obviously, while you should never point to a specific tenant as a cause, you should communicate inspection findings with your residents. They’ll appreciate how you keep them in the know.

Finally, the most important thing you can do as a landlord to maintain effective pest control in your buildings is respond to problems quickly! As soon as you think your building may have a pest problem, get in touch with Assured Environments right away! Investing in professional pest control is the best move for both you and your tenants.