Do-it-yourself pest control at a rental property can lead to liability should tenants or guests be exposed to toxic chemicals. Likewise, maintenance workers who lack experience are ineffective at curbing infestations, and run the risk of injuring tenants by mishandling pesticides.
Landlords have a duty to keep pests at bay, and the best way to accomplish that is to partner with an experienced pest control expert. How do you know if you have found the right company? Here are some things to look for:
Pest Control Is A Work in Progress
Some infestations may be eliminated easily, but pests tend to be persistent. You need to look for a company that offers both immediate and long-term strategies.
That said, a little goes a long way when it comes to pesticide applications. A company should be willing to come back and conduct an inspection first, before planning additional treatments.
Be wary of companies that require weekly or monthly treatments unless there are actual signs of continued infestation. If the first treatment was ineffective, consider the wisdom of continuing down the same path.
Where to Look for Pest Experts
National, state and local pest control associations such as the National Pest Management Association, educate experts on the latest information and breakthroughs in pest control. It only stands to reason that the companies that participate in this continuing education process will be the most effective. These organizations can make local referrals.
Guarantees and Warranties
A company should stand behind its work, and offer to make good on any failed treatments. Of course, guarantees and warranties are only as good as the company’s standing. If it goes out of business, guarantees and warranties may be out the window. Look for longevity in the community, along with good reviews and ratings.
Also, find out what the guarantee or warranty covers, and whether there are any additional fees involved. For example, will the termite control company cover building damage should the guaranteed treatment fail?
Pest infestations likely are going to occur, and when an infestation first appears, time is of the essence in limiting the spread. The longer you wait for treatment, the more costly that treatment will be. Research companies in advance, and consider touching base with the one you think you’d like to use. That way, you can confirm your good judgment and call on this company when needed, or you can eliminate that company from the list and continue the search.
What to Ask a Pest Expert
Discuss with the pest control expert what kinds of pests they tend to see in your area, and what the bulk of their work entails. Find out what services they recommend for other clients, and if they have references from these clients to verify. Who will be performing the services — are you speaking to a technician, or a sales person who does not go out in the field?
Do Your Research
Review and ratings websites make it easy to find disgruntled customers. Stellar reviews, however, can be too good to believe. Speak with actual customers for a more nuanced review. Ask if the person received anything in exchange for the good reference. Also, check with regulatory authorities such as your local Department of Health or Department of Agriculture to see if the company’s licensing is in good standing.
What to Watch Out For
The EPA suggests avoiding companies that:
Participate in door-to-door sales, especially those that attempt to show bugs in your neighborhood;
Have no credentials;
Attempt to combine other services such as lawn maintenance along with pest control;
Discount the rate if you do the work immediately;
Are unwilling to share copies of the pesticide labels that describe proper application rates and precautions;
Charge by the gallon for termite control. The per-gallon price may not reflect the fact that hundreds of gallons will be necessary;
Claim to have a “secret” formula or proprietary rights on pesticides, which must be registered with the EPA. Likewise, avoid pesticides with no labels; and
Tout an EPA endorsement. There is no such thing.
To maximize the effectiveness of any pest control treatment and to avoid injuries, follow the pest control expert’s instructions for both preparation and post-treatment. This may involve educating tenants about safety, or how to reduce the likelihood of another infestation.
Even if you are comfortable with your choice of pest control expert, don’t completely divorce yourself from the process. Do a cursory search of the chemicals being applied, or speak with your local University Extension Service to discuss the viability of treatments being provided. If something doesn’t seem right, verify if the company’s practices are, in fact, the standard for the industry.
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Disclaimer: The information provided in this post is not intended to be construed as legal advice, nor should it be considered a substitute for obtaining individual legal counsel or consulting your local, state, federal or provincial tenancy laws.