When nighttime temperatures start turning a bit cooler, it’s not only “perfect sleeping weather”, it’s also a signal to all kinds of outdoor critters that it’s time to head indoors. Just like people, insects and vermin like a warm, secure place to live in the winter, especially one that has a good food supply.
Every year around back-to-school time it seems someone flips the weather switch from “Summer” to “Fall”. Sandals and flip flops get stored away, you start digging in the closet for your favourite light fleece jacket, and the last of the garden herbs and veggies get consumed, canned or composted.
Many homeowners will take steps at this time to shore up the first lines of defense against pest invasions, but as an investment property owner, you should work with your tenants on doing the same.
Being proactive in the Fall protects both your tenants and your real estate investment against the inconvenient, unsanitary, unhealthy, miserable, just plain gross conditions and costly damage (or even potential loss of a tenant / rental income) that indoor pests can cause.
The methods you use to prevent an annual Fall pest invasion of ants, roaches, beetles, spiders, mice, rats and the like can be basically the same regardless of what type of creatures you’re trying to keep out of your building.
Here are a few quick, simple prevention methods to help keep those four, six or eight-legged critters from freeloading in your rental property over the winter.
INSIDE THE RENTAL
Remind your tenants to:
- Keep food in airtight containers, clean up spills and food messes right away, and keep the floors swept clean so there’s no odours to attract pests and nothing for them to find if they do come into the building to scout for food.
- Rinse all recyclables well to eliminate any traces of food before storing and prior to pick-up, and keep the area where the recycle bin is stored clean and dry.
Prior to tenants taking possession, and during any subsequent site visits, ensure the garage and basement are clean and dry. Dampness / wetness is not only bad for occupants and damaging to your investment property, it’s attractive to pests.
Encourage your tenants to bring recycling bags to the curb – in accordance with your local recycling guidelines – on a regular basis, and not store them for prolonged periods.
OUTSIDE THE RENTAL
Ask tenants to store waste containers, especially compost, away from doorways (show them where you’d like them to be kept). Outdoor critters that come to investigate garbage bins will definitely take the next logical step and investigate entry into the rental.
Trim back all tree branches that are touching or overhanging your roof. These are superhighways that lead pests right onto the roof and into your building. The same goes for shrubbery: plantings up against the building can also invite pests.
Mice and rats can gain access by squeezing themselves through incredibly small openings, they multiply quickly, can carry fleas, ticks and lice and can cause an amazing amount of damage once indoors:
- Check the weather stripping on all doors.
- Check that all outside vents are rodent-resistant.
- Use a plug or caulk to seal all obvious cracks, including around windows and doors, and especially at ground level, paying special attention to locations where pipes enter or exit the building.
Remove bird feeders, compost / brush piles or dirt mounds, which are super attractive to rodents.
One popular recommendation (from multiple websites that have information about natural pest barriers) is to spread a line of salt, garlic, cayenne pepper or diatomaceous earth around foundations, along windowsills and across doorways. Use common sense to prevent children or pets from consuming any natural or commercial barrier you use.
COMMUNICATION + ACTION ARE KEY
Stress to your tenants the importance of informing you if they do encounter pests in the rental, then address the issue right way with a professional from your local area. Know that ridding your investment property of pests after they’ve set up shop can be time consuming and expensive.
However, preventative measures can work best, especially when the weather turns cooler – taking the time to address these simple fixes now can save some real headaches later, and keep Fall pests out of your investment property.