PART TWO – Pre-screening Bed Buggy Tenants

LDS

Creating IBBRA Layered Defense System© for Bed Bugs

Last week I spoke about one of the biggest mistakes that owners and property management makes in regards to protecting their investments against bed bugs taking over their buildings through “Bad Bed Bug Addendums”. Today, I am going to go through what you need to do in regards to pre-screening your perspective tenants. In addition, teach you the importance of having a system in place to protect you against having “infestations” and “lawsuits”.

Overall, recent conditions have brought renewed appreciation for the benefits of renting, including the greater ease of moving, the ability to choose housing that better fits the family budget, and the freedom from responsibility for home maintenance. Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University stated – Renter share of all US households jumped from 31 percent in 2004, to 35 percent in 2012, bringing the total number to 43 million by early 2013. The number of renter households is likely to increase by between 4.0 million and 4.7 million in 2013–23. That’s a lot of people needing a place to call home.

Owning and leasing rental property is no different than owning any other business because it comes with great responsibilities and risk. It can be impressively rewarding or financially devastating if owners don’t pay attention to who they rent to and properly maintain their properties. With bed bugs being a constant threat, owners need to be on alert at all times so that “infestations” don’t build and spread throughout their buildings.

First, as an owner your going to be known as a great landlord or a slumlord. Get fully bed bug educated. Know the risks for both you and your tenants. This greatly takes away the ignorance and defines fault for both owner and tenants.

I often hear stories from tenants who had never experienced bed bugs, yet moved into an infested property only to be “blamed” for the buggy condition within days or a few weeks of their move in date. This happens more often than not. The reason behind this is the owner never checked to see if there was a problem and flipped the property to keep their cash flow going. BIG MISTAKE! If you as an owner do not check for bed bugs before a tenant moves you are negligent in doing your job to maintain a safe habitable dwelling.

On the other side, people who have bed bug infestations in their belongings often move and don’t tell the new owner of their problem. This ignorance from owners causes great financial problems when the bed bugs start moving throughout their building affecting other tenants. Anyway you look at it, the problem always falls back on the owner, period.

It is an owner’s responsibility to provide a safe habitable dwelling.

When after a unit is vacated, the bugs will remain “hidden” and most of the time is not visible. The owner now sends in maintenance to repair, paint and clean. In most cases, maintenance has no clue what signs of bed bugs are, and either paint over, vacuum up or wash away any signs. To the uneducated maintenance worker, fecal stains look like mold.

The unsuspecting tenant moves in and starts to be bitten. They call you and you automatically tell them “You must have brought them in”. How fair is that? Moreover, can you prove that YOU checked for and made sure the unit did not have bed bugs before you allowed your new tenant to move in? This is where many lawsuits against the owner begin. The burden of proof is yours.

Now, how would one know for sure it was the new tenant that brought them in? See where I am going here? Maybe they were left over from a previous tenant. Did you have a professional come in with a scent dog and in your pest records did you document the findings for that unit?

Next, how do you know if your new tenant has bed bugs?

You don’t, and you have to take their word for it. People lie. You must express bed bug concerns right up front. Don’t just slide a stack of paper in front of them with a single sheet of information and a bed bug addendum holding them responsible. Talk about bed bugs with them. Look them straight in the eyes and ask, “Have YOU ever experienced bed bugs in a previous living situation? Those who have had a problem normally squirm a bit or won’t look you in the eye. Pull your document out of your IBBRA Layered Defense Package and say, Good – SIGN HERE.

Show them, using your documentation upfront that you have a proactive system and regular inspections for bed bugs and the unit they are moving into is clear of bed bugs. Let them know all units are inspected on a quarterly basis and if a bed bug infestation is found in their unit and they did not alert you to the possibility, that they will be held financially responsible. Again, SIGN HERE.

Don’t “expect” or “assume” your tenant knows or understands what bed bugs are or the risks of them getting them. EDUCATE them! In your Layered Defense Package is education and life size specimens for them in which they sign off that they have read and understand. It also includes information, which they can take with them. Again, SIGN HERE.

Each item, is acknowledged and signed for.

Now would it not be nice if all your tenants came to you immediately and told you they may have a problem so that it can be taken care of BEFORE infestations develop? Ya, in a perfect world. Only you can create that perfect scenario. I will tell you that if you point the finger without doing YOUR JOB first, you will be chasing bed bugs throughout your building for a long time.

If you think the IBBRA Layered Defense Package is too much paperwork, then you have not been sued. Give us a call after you have and we can get you set up fast.

We are here to help! www.ibbra.org

888-966-2332

888-9-NOBEDBUGS

Welcome SOS Pest Management to the IBBRA Team!

SOS-logo-whSOS was started in 1989 Darryl Franke is a second generation PMP. SOS began treating for bed bugs in 2003 developing a successful protocol using vacuums, dusts and steamers. In 2007, all bed bug treatments were transitioned to Thermal Remediation. SOS now offers extended warranties and financing for their remediation services. Currently, SOS is experiencing a 97% success rate on the initial thermal service.

Just recently, Darryl brought on an expert David Henderson to head up this division and assist with the increasing bed bug problem. Both Darryl Franke and David Henderson are the only Associate Certified Entomologists (A.C.E.) in Kansas City.

David Henderson is a husband, father, and proud grandfather to eight wonderful grandchildren. When he is not working at developing programs and killing bugs, he enjoys hunting and fishing, loves music, and plays all percussion instruments.

He began his career in Pest Management in 1984 in Independence Missouri. For the past thirty-one years, he has worked in Texas, Missouri and the Southern Southeast Coast providing all services for the Integrated Pest Management industry. His specialty includes Food Processing & Manufacturing, Industrial, Fumigation, Termite and Wood Destroying Pests, for both Residential and Educational Institutions; and is proficient in designing pest management programs for individual facilities.

David now provides his years of experience as Division Manager for SOS Pest Control and currently manages their bed bug program. He also has extensive training through Clemson, Texas A & M University, University of Missouri, American Institute of Baking (AIB), Purdue University and Copesan Signature Care Program. In addition, sharing his experience and spreading the word, he was instrumental in developing the Texas Integrated Pest Management Association for Public Schools (TIPMAPS) for school IPM. He was the recipient of International IPM Achievement in Schools Award in 2012 by North America IPM Institute.

I had the pleasure of working with David a few years back and we share the same philosophy of “Education and Awareness are Key Issues to Bed Bug Issues” and for good reasons. SOS is a forward focused and driven company who educates staff for Property Management Companies, Tenants, Healthcare Facilities, and Hospitality Industry and businesses about bed bugs and prevention using resources available through the International Bed Bug Resource Authority (IBBRA). I am proud to work with such professionals in the industry.

Contact 913-bed-bugs 913-233-2847/816-bed-bugs 816-233-2847 or visit their web site at www.soskc.com service@soskc.com SOS Pest Control, Inc.723 Tracy Avenue Kansas City, MO 64106

Pest Control – Needs Healthy Solutions too!

Picture2Life is full of people from all walks of life; and IBBRA is always embracing possibilities that lead to making a difference in as many people’s life as we can. With chemical sensitivity and emotional issues surrounding bed bug problems there are those who require safe, non-toxic solutions to give them the protection and peace of mind they need. Whether it is a fragile senior, handicapped individual, a family with young children or animals, people with suppressed immune systems, or anyone, who has sensitivity to chemicals, we want to have available resources for all.

We would like to introduce Advance Pest Solutions, owned by Lindell Spence; and welcome them aboard with us to help in the mission of education, early detection and safe elimination of bed bugs.

“I’ve always been intrigued by entomology, science and nature which lead me to investigate the pest control industry. I began my pest control career working for a few small firms to get familiar with the business aspect and develop my trouble shooting skills. I then took a job with a large pest control company where I was able to build and perfect my skill levels.

After a few short years, I developed an acute sensitivity to synthetic pesticides. With each exposure, my reaction became worse. Not spoken of often and although it is rare, it is important to be aware that pesticides have the ability to cause life threatening allergic reactions in some people. Much like people’s reactions to bed bug bites, everyone is different”.

The symptoms of pesticide sensitivity and poisoning include respiratory problems, and allergy and skin problems. Since chemical pesticides are an accepted way to eliminate pests, I was sure that many of my clients might be affected as well. I felt uneasy and ultimately responsible if anyone of my clients had gotten sick.

In an effort to cleanse and relieve my body of chemical sensitivity symptoms, I began Yoga classes and that is when my experience as an exterminator took a dramatic turn. I experienced considerable health benefits, including improved cognition, respiration, body mass index, and blood pressure. As time passed, I embraced the disciplines for achieving the ultimate union of universal consciousness, working in partnership with nature.

From my personal experience feeling the effects of pesticides on my body, I made the choice to use only natural products, not as a fad, but for the safety and health of my clients as well as myself.

When I approached my company and explained I could no longer work with chemicals, I was provided with an ultimatum to use “all their products”, not just natural ones. I knew my health would suffer, so I resigned. My life was about to change in a good way.

I always envisioned operating my own company where everyone deserves to live in a pest free environment. I also felt the level of service offered, shouldn’t be determined by economic status and must be safe and healthy for all occupants and environments. After my experience, this vision became more of a necessity for me.

When starting Advance Pest Solutions, I worked with the core principles and values I’ve learned through my practicing of yoga.

Pest control is a service business, and if you don’t love people, have compassion and empathy for them during their trials, you can’t properly serve. The past two and a half years I have worked in this manner to resolve customer’s problems. It has been a learning experience of which I’m very proud of and happy.

Most of my clients are of financially challenged and low-income communities where organic services typically would not be offered. I have managed to build my business and service both residential and commercial locations with clean, healthy methods and solutions.

I do hope in the near future that more companies will work in this manner, by being conscientious of the physical effects of products that are detrimental to the health of our families, pets and environment.

Lindell Spence

Advance Pest Solutions (a Bed Bug Solution Company)

www.advancepestsolutions.com

718-527-5183

 

All Starr Knocks Down Bed Bugs with a One – Two Punch!

all starr termite & pest control logoThose who are fans of boxing will welcome All Starr Termite & Pest Control’s mottoWE’LL MAKE YOUR BUGS SEE STARRS!” with a smile. That is exactly the attitude with every job they do. They knock out pest problems with a one-two punch. They will do whatever it takes!

Raised in El Paso Texas, Randy Starr started thirty-five years ago in his father’s family pest business. Now, three generations later he, his son Philip and daughter’s Jessica and Mallory have continued with the family tradition and joined with their dad and mom in their own family business All Starr Termite & Pest Control. Grounded by good old-fashioned family values and respect for customers’ needs, they address pest problems with more than just control but by knocking out the problem completely.

With each bed bug job, he realized chemical treatments took too long, resistance issues were popping up and they were no longer efficient which caused his clients to suffer longer. He wanted to stop his clients suffering and find a more, immediate relief.

Bound and determined, he discontinued using chemicals and turned to heat. With heat, he can turn a property over in hours compared to repeated chemical treatments over weeks; and can be assured bed bugs were gone. It also took the arduous task of prep work away from the clients. In many cases, the client either did not have the time, take the time, nor did they fully understand the extent of prep work even though they had a list to work off. His new heat arsenal has grown to include several units to service more clients at the same time thus saving him and his employees operating time and costs.

When speaking to Randy about his biggest bed bug problems he stated, “It’s a huge learning curve for my clients and with so much going on in life already, they are often overwhelmed. We have to deliver a more user-friendly solution to take away their fears and not overload them, and we found that heat is the answer. Aside from that, heat also removes other pests they could have in their homes and sanitizes the environment at the same time. All in all, they receive more benefits from heat than chemical ten times over”.

Since bed bugs are taking over whole communities, Randy has taken a serious proactive approach by educating his clients as well as staying on top of the most recent heat elimination techniques to get rid of bed bugs in one session. He is never satisfied until every bug is completely, annihilated and upon completion, his client is well educated in how they got bed bugs and possibilities of reintroduction.

Randy works closely with the IBBRA on a project developing forward thinking proactive programs for senior facilities, hospitality and multi-unit apartments along with advanced education portals for other PCO’s here in the state of Texas. His dedication and focus involves keeping clients units clear of “infestations” and keeping it down to “occurrences” that are easily remedied. He believes that if we can get people talking about bed bugs more often we have a fighting chance for limited infestations.

Appreciating the monstrous future problem of bed bugs infiltrating homes and businesses worldwide, Randy’s plans include a powerful vision to be part of our specialized bed bug group that can make a significant difference in massive public awareness, safe efficient ways to keep infestation from occurring and spreading, and initiate a cohesive workable program for all.

All Starr Termite & Pest Control “Service with Good Old Fashioned Honesty”

Contact 512-281-5515 www.allstarrpest.com

“Bed Bug Education will never be as expensive as Bed Bug Ignorance”

Bed Bug Education will never be as expensive as Bed Bug IgnoranceLack of education and skills will cause people to ask questions when they can’t figure it out or fail. Surprisingly, we humans will try our skills before we seek out help. Many times, they may not know a professional in a particular field and seek out answers via the Internet. And we all know that EVERYTHING on the Internet is correct, right?

I can always tell when people have spent time on the internet searching for answers to their questions about bed bugs. They tell me “I was reading on XXX and it said, ya da ya da. Once they give it an ole college try and still have bed bugs, are completely confused with conflicting stories, and have grabbed up enough “horror stories” to scare the living hell out of them, I get the calls.

These people are normally crying, breathing hard or not breathing at all and are all over the charts with emotions and questions. After their search, they now have dreamed up every possible scenario including the “sky is falling” and have given up on the possibility of ever getting rid of bed bugs from their lives because of others experiences they have read.

Then you have those diamonds who will try to finish your sentence because they spent every waking hour memorizing bed bug facts yet have no clue how to get of them. It is not always easy to convince people that they have to forget most everything they just read and come back to reality to address their own particular issue.

Not all bed bug issues are created equal.

Some will adopt others bed bug issues through a provoked thought processes that compels them to dream up things happening in others’ lives, in their own world!

OK, bed bugs are a royal pain in the ole butt that when they reach “infestation” levels can be a living nightmare, but not in all cases. Depending upon the extent of the infestation, the building, the management, your living quarters, cooperation of all, you may or may not have a situation that needs 911.

Distinguishing infestation levels and how far they have spread is always the key to proper treatment choices and elimination. Obviously, the earlier you find bed bugs, the easier it will be getting rid of them. However, when people are ignorant about bed bugs the harder it becomes for full elimination.

The most popular question asked when it comes to bed bugs is “How do I get rid of bed bugs?” As blanketed as that question is, I always say, “It all depends”. In order to get rid of bed bugs you have to do two things, either pay an experienced professional before you attempt fruitless antics that have most likely spread them or take the time to learn about the pest before you attempt anything.

I only wish there were a single simple answer to every question about bed bugs but it does “depend” upon how long you think you’ve had them, how much furniture and type of furniture you have, is the dwelling “cluttered”, the type of structure (single home, multi-unit building, business, type of construction, the age of the building, cement walls or floors, electrical availability for heat treatment, and the list goes on and on)

Then, one has to take into consideration whether the vocation of those who call are that of high risk or not. Do they have a large household of people that come and go do they often have visitors, do they travel or shop in secondhand stores? Has there been previous attempted treatments and with what?

Last week I received a call from a young woman 20-year-old college student. She called me from a friend’s home asking all kinds of questions as to how she could get rid of bed bugs. When I asked how long she thought she had bed bugs she hesitated, and I then asked, “a week – a day – a month?” She replied “No, longer” I replied OK don’t make me guess here and she said I am so embarrassed – six years! I was actually at a loss for words for a moment and asked why so long.

She explained she lived at her dad’s house and since he isn’t affected by the bites, he gets angry at her every time she mentions them. At this point, she was blemished pretty badly from the continuous bites over the years and others at school were asking if she had a “problem” and were avoiding her. She was desperate and never wanted to go back home until she found a solution to her problem. It broke my heart to hear her story.

After a rather lengthy conversation with her exposing the truths about the length they have been present, she said, “well, I don’t think I will be going home anytime soon”. Of course, I offered up a consultation with her dad with the hopes to get him to understand that he is carrying them with him wherever he goes and causing others to fall victim, but I believe it fell on deaf ears.

So, how do I get rid of bed bugs, you ask? “It depends”…

If you discover them early enough, you can grab up a copy of the Do-it-Yourself book from the IBBRA. This book walks you through bed bug elimination step-by-step. You’ll learn what not to do so you don’t spread them into other areas of your home.

However, if you have been fighting the battle for some time and you have already made fruitless attempts using store bought products then I highly suggest that you call in a professional as soon as possible. You can find  experienced bed bug professionals on our site here.

Learn as much as you can about bed bugs nature and your risk factors. Do your best to avoid them in the first place, be vigilant when returning from a visit out or bringing anything into your home and remember, just because your not being bitten doesn’t mean you don’t have bed bugs; check for bed bug signs on a regular basis.

If you live in an apartment or multi-unit property and you discover you have them, call your landlord right away!

You can always reach out to us with any bed bug questions you may have at 888-966-2332