John is a successful real estate investor who owns several rather large apartment complexes in the northeast part of the US. Pest control is a given and just part of his operating overhead which he adds into his budget each year.
He also has relies on his property managers to run a tight ship, keep all units rented with decent tenants, maintain the property well and keep him up to date on any problems with his investments. He and his managers meet once a month to address any issues of importance. For the most part, he has full occupancy because of the area he chose to buy in and hasn’t had to deal with too many evictions or late payments. You know what they say, location, location, location!
So all in all, John was a pretty happy camper. Yes, I said WAS. Well, until bed bugs came into his life. Not in his personal life – his investment life.
It started with a woman who had been living in one of his units for quite a few years. She was always on time with her rent, was quiet, never complained and was immaculate! In any investors words she was the perfect tenant.
She calls the office and complained that she was being eaten alive in her apartment by something and asked if they would send over pest control. Accommodating her request, the company’s pest control technician came over the next day.
John has had a contract for general pest control with this company for many years. He likes the “out of sight – out of mind”, where he doesn’t have complaints and people do their job as required.
After the brief in and out fifteen minute inspection, pest control gave a bid to the tune of $1,500 dollars. Gasping for air John replied that’s only a couple hundred dollars less than the rent payment! His tech answered by saying, I do two treatments two weeks apart and the tenant has to do prepare the unit in order to guarantee his work. John reluctantly agreed, sent the prep list to his tenant and they started elimination the following Monday.
John had never encountered bed bugs in his units, knew nothing more of bed bugs and honestly didn’t want to know, he just trusted his pest control company to do what was necessary. In the back of his mind all he could think was, “This better damn well work”.
Three weeks after the second treatment, his management once again heard from the same tenant that she was being bitten again.
When he called his pest control company, he said they wanted another $1,500 because it was past the 30 days.
John lost it!
John thought to himself, he obviously didn’t get rid of the problem the first time. Now he wants to know when he already paid him for this problem why is he charging him again.
Pest control told him that it’s common that people most likely re-introduce them. John assumed at this time that he had to charge the woman for this treatment so he had management send her a notice.
Of course the tenant was in an uproar and reached out to us. We sent in a bed bug detection dog team before the2nd treatment date to find out what was going on. The dogs alerted on the baseboard behind her bed and in her headboard.
We asked if the unit behind her or upstairs was inspected and she replied not that she knew of. We suggested that her landlord call us and he did.
After a nice long conversation about how bed bugs move within multi-unit properties, John had a new perspective on bed bugs and treatment options. Wondering why his pest tech didn’t explain these things to him, he made the decision to fire him and seek out a more experienced and ethical company.
The next company insisted on inspecting all surrounding units (which turned out to be the problem). The upstairs tenant had a very serious bed bug infestation but was unaffected by their bites. The bed bugs were moving through the wall voids into two adjoined units. The family that lived behind the tenant that was being bitten was also experiencing bites but thought it was from mosquitoes and had no clue it was from bed bugs.
Had the original pest control company be allowed to continue their type of treatments, the whole building would have had a problem in a very short amount of time.
This story serves as a reminder for all those who have rental properties to learn about bed bugs and put a pro-active protocol that includes education, policies and procedures in place BEFORE this happens.
Reach out to us and we will walk you through a simple but powerful way to insure this doesn’t happen to you!
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