Combatting bed bugs in rental properties

Concern amongst landlords and property managers has risen and the need to identify effective strategies to combat these elusive intruders has increased.

Mother and son viewing bedroom

Proactive steps must be taken to reduce the risk of bed and regular deep cleaning between tenancies is key, as well as advice and guidance to avoid clutter and regular cleaning. Instructing inventory service providers to carry out regular inspections can help reduce the relentless pace of bed bugs while safeguarding properties.

Infestations are dangerous

These nocturnal insects feed on the blood of warm-blooded hosts, including humans. Apart from the immediate discomfort of bed bug bites, they pose severe health implications. The bites often lead to itching and allergic reactions, with some individuals experiencing secondary skin infections. The psychological toll can be equally significant, as anxiety and sleep disturbances affect those living with infestations.

There has been a resurgence of bed bugs that can be attributed to several factors, such as increased global travel, rising temperatures, and their growing resistance to common insecticides.

In the 2015/16 period, there was a staggering 11,829 pest control callouts related to bed bugs, constituting approximately 3% of all pest control callouts in that time frame. In 2018, there was a consistent decrease in online searches interest year by year, reflecting a declining concern. However, a notable shift occurred in 2022 when online searches for bed bugs surged.

Tackling the infestation

Early detection is critical in controlling the spread. Information about identification and prevention must be shared to avoid infestations.

Regular inspections, especially in high-risk areas and between tenancies are key. Be proactive and consider introducing a routine inspection schedule for properties. Communicating with tenants the reasons for the inspections as well as the benefits to them, will help landlords and property managers gain access that is vital to stopping the spread.

Preventive measures will help encourage residents to regularly vacuum carpets, declutter rooms, and use mattress protectors. These simple actions can significantly lower the risk of infestations.

Prompt action is necessary if signs of bed bugs are discovered. Act swiftly and engage professional pest control services to eliminate the infestation thoroughly. Removal of infested furniture may be necessary to prevent further spread.

Deep cleaning of the property between tenancies should be a priority for landlords and certainly in regions where bed bugs are known to be active or on the rise.

Collaboration and open communication between property managers, tenants, inventory professionals, and pest control services is crucial for sharing experiences and gaining practical advice to manage properties proactively.

Heightened vigilance should be exercised by landlords when children or vulnerable individuals reside in the property

Covering the cost

It is imperative to review any insurance policies that could potentially cover the costs of addressing this matter. In scenarios involving apartments, multi-family units, or HMOs, it's often necessary to engage the property's managing agent.

Assessing the situation

In cases where neither the landlord nor the tenant take responsibility for the issue, as a final recourse, either party can contact their local Environmental Health Department. The Dept will assess the situation and provide guidance, including direction on which party should be responsible for resolving the issue. However, once they are involved, landlords will need to follow through with any recommendations in case the issue escalates further.

Health advice

Vigilance is a key weapon alongside keeping informed and armed with the latest government and health advice. Visit NHS for more advice on identifying the signs of bed bugs and how to manage bites.

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