“Ask Kari” is a monthly, Question & Answer feature from Kari Negri. Kari has two decades of property management experience, is a featured speaker at many industry trade shows, such as AAGLA’s annual trade show, and is the CEO of SKY Properties, Inc. in Los Angeles.
This month’s question comes from Aly in Los Angeles: “Can roaches in an apartment be caused by a tenant failing to keep their apartment clean? If so, is the owner responsible for getting rid of the roaches?”
These are great questions. It is possible that cockroaches are brought on by uncleanliness. Although, it benefits the entire building to rapidly treat the unit for them as they will spread to neighboring units. It is often difficult to prove when they began infesting a unit, so best to respond quickly when the problem begins. Here are some things to consider:
Tip 1: Inspect.
Prior to move-in, inspect the unit with the tenant. The tenant and manager should, during their initial walk-thru, check for signs of cockroaches in kitchen drawers, under mats, behind the stove and refrigerator, inside cabinets and closets. Signs to look for include dark specs, which look like coffee grounds or black pepper. These are cockroach droppings. Oval-shaped egg cases can also be visible behind furniture and in hidden locations. Always spray vacancies before unit becomes occupied even if you don’t see any signs.
Tip 2: Perform 6-month check-ups.
When performing 6-month, building-wide smoke detector checks. Inspect all units for signs of cockroaches. Check the healthful conditions and cleanliness inside kitchens and bathrooms of each unit.
Tip 3: Respond quickly.
If signs of cockroaches exist, work with the tenant and respond quickly. Have a good exterminator. The tenant must prepare the unit prior to treatment. All items must be removed from cabinets and shelves, moved to the center of the room, and covered with plastic. If the tenant fails to prepare the unit, the problem simply will not go away. If a tenant fails to cooperate, it becomes a health hazard for the entire building, and eviction proceedings must be considered. The cockroaches will spread throughout the entire building.
Tip 4: Educate.
Sometimes when you have purchased a building, or switch management companies, you might inherit tenants or a manager that is uneducated or unresponsive to treating cockroaches. It is important to act swiftly, educate the manager and tenants, and eradicate the problem. Many tenants do not want to put the time into prepping correctly, but when faced with a pest problem, fumigation becomes a mandatory health and safety issue. Resistant residents must be notified that they may be responsible for the costs of fumigation, and repeated refusal for treatment can also lead to a 3-day notice to cure. One of the most important things to remind tenants of is that a dirty, cluttered apartment is 10x more likely to have pests than a clean, clutter free space. You may also find yourself with the predicament of tenants that claim allergies to chemicals and that request a more natural alternative. There is lots of homeopathic ways to treat and repel roaches. Several of these recommendations can be found on the EPA’s website, or simply by searching online for “natural roach control”. Many tenants that implement these options have success. This of course works even better when combined with a monthly pest control regimen at your property.
Tip 5: Proactive attack plan.
I suggest a proactive plan of attack. At my company, we have a monthly pest control service; we always spray vacancies and try to schedule to have all occupied units treated, on a schedule, once per year.
As always, please remember, I am not an attorney. Seek clarification through your attorney. All articles are simply an opinion. Stay in touch at www.GetSky.net
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