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No Pests Equals Happy Residents

Pests control

Keeping apartment communities pest-free is a primary resident-retention strategy. Here’s how to do it.

When it comes to helping keep pests out of an apartment community, it’s a team effort.

That’s because pests can spread faster than you can scratch an itch. And it’s not just individual apartment units that are breeding grounds; common areas and amenities can be major pest magnets.

As property manager for NHR Properties, Lauren Lenox oversees 200 residential units in a diversified portfolio of apartment communities — with buildings from three to 30 units and a mix of market-rate and affordable housing — throughout New Haven, Connecticut. Additionally, during her 10-year career in property management, she’s overseen 500-unit buildings with all the bells and whistles.

So when it comes to pest problems, she’s seen it all. “In this portfolio, where we are so diversified, we deal with squirrels and raccoons, along with mice, roaches and everyone’s favorite, bed bugs.”

A pest maintenance plan is critical in keeping a community pest-free, but she also offers the following tips to help keep all manner of critters at bay:

Know your trouble spots. Bugs and rodents need water, shelter and food to live – just like humans. Trash and recycling areas are well-known feeding and breeding grounds for pests, but any water source is a potential pest magnet. That means that pool areas, fitness rooms and lounge areas need to be on the watch list.

When Lenox managed a large apartment community, the lounge area had a full kitchen, which shared a wall with the movie room. “I would get complaints all the time: ‘We spotted a mouse in the movie room, and he’s behind the projector,’” she says. “When you trace the problem with your pest management technician, you can figure out where they are coming from.” If there’s a water or food source nearby, that’s a good bet. 

Educate residents about pest prevention. Lenox notes that with smaller apartment communities, like many of the ones she manages for NHR Properties, there can be less control of resident — and pest — behavior. “The exposure that you have to the outside is more controlled in a larger building,” she explains. “But in a three-family home, someone can leave the hallway door open, which leads to the outside. Then there’s trash in the hallway, and there’s a squirrel coming up to gain food access. And people don’t think about it because their apartment door is closed.”

Educating residents about pest access points and the dos and don’ts of keeping pests out of common areas can help. “Orkin has been a partner with us on educating residents about how to help keep pests out of your home,” Lenox says. “They have created flyers for us to distribute to our residents. They have even placed the flyers at the properties for us.”

See something, say something. As with the solution to any problem, information is power. Lenox encourages residents to tell her when they have a pest problem in their unit so she can call in the pros. She’s found that residents are often reticent to report a bed bug problem, and bed bugs can be the hardest pest to contain and kill. “If you admit that you have bed bugs, people automatically see you as dirty,” Lenox says. “Residents often don’t say anything until it’s out of control. Then we’ll get a report from the neighbor who went to the doctor for the bites on his arm.” Tell residents it’s critical that they report any pest issues ASAP.

Start preventive maintenance immediately. Even with a brand-new apartment community, Lenox recommends starting a pest management program from the get-go. “In new developments, as you break ground, you may be disturbing nests. So you can have a rodent problem as you are opening up your building. As people are occupying the building, there’s a new trash source or food source for the mice and the rats, and if you are not being proactive you can quickly have a problem.

“If you are waiting for the problem to happen and then trying to fix it,” Lenox continues, “it’s already gotten to a level where it’s hard to fix.”

At NHR Properties, Lenox has been happy with Orkin’s service. “Out of all the pest control companies I’ve worked with, they’ve been the one company that I can say has partnered with the management company to make their lives easier.”

For more information on pest management for amenities specifically, Read More.


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