You have purchased an investment property. This well-built structure is expected to outlive you. It will be a source of income after you retire. It needs to last.
Then you get the dreaded call from your property manager… The tenants have found evidence of termites. What can you do to protect your home from bugs, critters and rodents and other pests?
Household pests you cannot ignore
A few ants here and there is a warning that there may be a larger problem lurking somewhere. While sugar ants are simply pesky, carpenter ants can do as much damage as termites. So if your tenants are complaining about an ant problem, do not assume that it is simply a cleanliness problem.Bed bugs can be easily brought into your home by an unsuspecting tenant, but they can be very difficult to remove. Bats and possums can make their way into your home through the smallest of holes.
Treating an infiltration is only half of the problem. You need to eliminate entry points. This is where closely working with your property manager will help. A complete spring and fall property inspection is perhaps the primary way to protect your investment.Start with an exterior inspection. Before inspecting the house, examine the surroundings. Look for places that critters can hide. Woodpiles, scrap lumber, piles of leftover household junk and unmaintained shrubs and undergrowth are perfect nests for animals. With a stockpile of food in the house next door, it is just too tempting to resist. Standing water and open trash cans will also draw unwanted house guests.
Now that’s cleaned up, examine the rental. Arm yourself with a can of spray foam and a tube of silicon caulk. Work from the ground up. Seal all foundation cracks. Look for gaps in the siding or where the siding meets the foundation. Pay particular attention to holes that were drilled into the house to install electrical, cable, phone or plumbing. Make sure these are all properly sealed. Look for evidence of attempted infiltrations such as gnaw marks, termite tubes or wasp’s nests. Also examine the eaves for holes where possums, bats, squirrels and other fuzzy vermin can sneak in.
It can be difficult at times to pinpoint exactly where the infestation is coming from. An interior inspection can also reveal entry points. Do not forget to bring a flashlight to examine any floor joists, attic spaces and dark corners in the kitchen cabinets and closets. Termites and carpenter ants are notorious for eating out all the wood but leaving the paint behind. Poke around window sills and baseboard trim to make sure they are all solid. Look for gaps under exterior doors and holes in the window screens. While examining the structure, check on the living conditions of your tenants
How Your Tenants Can Help Protect Your Investment from Pests
Work together with your tenants. They are your first line of defense. Equip them with their first can of bug spray, roach bait and rat traps. There are also some natural ways to keep pests out. Bugs and lizards can’t stand the smell of peppermint or lemon oil. Borax and some powdered laundry soaps also deter ants as well. Rumor has it that bugs will not cross over coffee grounds.Encourage your tenants to be fastidious about keeping the kitchen clean and storing dry goods in airtight containers. A roach problem does not immediately indicate a lack of cleanliness, they could be attracted to a leaky faucet or simply the smell of food. Make sure that all trash cans have rodent proof lids or are kept in an enclosed storage area.
When to Call a Professional
If your tenants call and say they are losing the battle, now is the time to call the professional. This is especially true if you see evidence of carpenter ants, termites or bed bugs. These are almost impossible to remove without fumigating the house. Check with a qualified and licensed exterminator to see if an annual treatment is recommended for your area. You can win the battle against vermin and pests and protect your investment but quick action will be necessary.