Bedbugs are found in apartment buildings, hotels, single-family homes, and even recently Hawaii’s Honolulu airport.
While not known to transmit diseases, the small wingless insects have long been a pest, irritating people with their bites. They also can be a big problem for building management.
“Bedbugs have been noted to be one of the top three problems for property managers, building managers, housing authorities, and others in terms of running a business or managing a property,” says Joseph Latino, president of Allergy Technologies.
As part of Bedbug Awareness Week, June 4-10, here are several key points for property owners.
1. Be Prepared. The Environmental Protection Agency recommends landlords find out what regulations apply to your location. There could be reporting and/or response requirements. It’s also important to educate yourself and your team on how to identify and inspect for bedbugs.
2. Work With Residents. In order to address a bedbug problem, owners need to have the trust of their residents, emphasizes Latino. Everyone needs to be working together. “The concept of being able to develop the confidence of residents ends up being pillar No. 1 in creating an effective program,” he says. Their collaboration is essential for an effective, holistic program.
3. End the Stigma. As part of working with residents, it’s important to educate them as well as staff, according to Latino. “Bedbugs are not a function of cleanliness,” he says. “They are not a function of sanitation. They are simply an unfortunate event.” People may be concerned that a stigma will be attached to them or they will be evicted if their home has bedbugs. That should not be not the case, Latino says.
4. Think Prevention. Property managers can help prevent bedbugs by reducing hiding places by sealing cracks along baseboards, moldings, and other areas. They can also remove clutter, bag and discard belongings left behind by vacating residents, and schedule regular inspections of apartments, says the National Pest Management Association.
5. Develop a Strategic Program. Property managers often call a pest management company when bedbugs emerge and think the issue is resolved. “It’s not one and done,” Latino says. “It requires a sustained, long-term effort.” His firm’s Allergy Technologies Affordable Housing Control program involves an initial facilitywide screening and treatment of infested units as well as long-acting preventative measures to keep the bed bug population under control.