Infestations are Completely Avoidable
It never ceases to amaze me how some of the best success stories come from the biggest failures. The truth is, that one doesn’t have to get bed bug infestations and infestations are completely avoidable. (If you are paying attention and doing your due diligence)
After years of listening to the bed bug woes of renters and owners of rental properties (and having been a property owner myself), the bottom line is, bed bugs deeply affects your ROI. For most, that bottom line is their retirement account and without a proactive common sense plan in place, the bed bug treatments will easily drain it until there is nothing left for retirement.
I recently spoke to a man that was so upside-down because of constant bed bug treatments that he went into foreclosure and lost his building. Another woman couldn’t afford a professional and attempted self-treatment for close to a year that failed – she got in her car and drove away, never to return.
Major Concerns for both Tenants and Property Owners
- The major tenant concern nowadays is moving into a unit or building that already has or had bed bugs.
- The biggest concern for the property owner is whether their tenant will bring bed bugs into their unit upon move-in or somewhere down the line and not be susceptible to their bites.
Since November 2016, I have been working with a property owner of 40 units who was suffering with repeated bed bug outbreaks. He had eighteen back-to-back professional chemical treatments over the past year and a half costing him on an average of one and a half times the rent of each unit, each time. He was losing money fast and feared he would never get ahead of it and reached out to me.
Once I explained what was happening within his property and gave him tips on how to get ahead of it, he now understands how his innocent ignorance created part of the battle and his pest control company never filled him in to the truth about bed bugs.
I often ask people if one hundred people walked across a lawn and seven of them had fleas jump on them – who’s fault is it? How about your child that went to school and played touch football with Johnny who had head lice (but no one knew it) – and your child came home with head lice – who’s fault is it?
It’s kind of the same thing with bed bugs. They are parasites and can be just about anywhere you visit where people congregate. You may sit waiting for your appointment at the social security office and have one crawl on you – at the doctor’s office – work – your school auditorium, the gym or at your favorite restaurant.
Pointing fingers doesn’t accomplish anything. Sure you might have a tenant that isn’t “the ideal” tenant but all in all, life gives us enough guilt and shame and adding bed bugs to the mix only exacerbates bad feelings.
The Saboteur Is the Bed Bug
Anyone can get bed bugs at any time. It’s not your fault – you did nothing wrong – it is what it is.
Not always is the tenant at fault for bringing in bed bugs because they can be in an adjacent unit which when the tenant moves out the bed bugs start to forage for survival food.
Most people who rent, once they hear of or encounter a bed bug problem in their unit or building want to move. The most common question I ask of those who rent is; “if your landlord educated you on bedbugs and had regular inspections, would that make you want to stay?” The answer was ABSOLUTLY! It’s so much better than being made to feel that it is all their fault. One of the main reasons renters turn to self-treating is that they are afraid to tell their landlords they have them for fear of being evicted or shamed or having to pay extra for treatments.
Now I don’t know about you, but having a full building with good paying, long term renters is the goal of any property owner. Turnovers cost money! That tenant retention means not having to shell out money to prepare a unit for rental, which may stay vacant for a while sucking the life out of your ROI.
Bed Bug Education
Your best return on investment is proper bed bug education and regular inspections. I can’t stress this enough! This increases your properties desire for people to live and helps you to avoid expensive turnovers. Talking about bed bugs and informing your tenants that you want your building to remain as safe as possible at all times, creates a true intrinsic value for you and your tenants.
(If possible and available in your area) Hire a professional bed bug detection dog team to inspect your properties quarterly.
This will keep any introduction of bed bugs to a minimum and make it much easier to rid them when they show up. Inspections less than quarterly will allow bed bugs to go through more than two or more breeding cycles, which lead to infestations. (Eggs hatch and nymph bed bugs grow to adults in approximately six to eight weeks -with regular blood meals and temperature condition specific- causing new breeders)
Create incentives for your tenants should they spot a problem in-between inspections. No one likes a snitch but if a tenant should notice another bring in secondhand furniture or see’s someone dumping their mattress in the trash, they need to tell you. This can help to avoid a serious problem.
You Get More with Honey
Putting anyone on the defense with bed bugs will cause more problems than you need to deal with. Tenants hide physically and emotionally and come up with the most bizarre excuses and attempt self-treatments that spread them even further, so be careful out there.
Always call your tenants or knock on their door; the human bond goes much further than slapping a notice on their door with accusations. Start with; it has come to our attention that “we may” have a bed bug problem in your building and “we” want to protect our tenants from “infestations” of bed bugs. We will be conducting an inspection on XXX so we can resolve any problems before they get out of hand.
Give them amble time of 5 to 7 days. We will be using a specialized Bed Bug Scent Detection Dog Team. Please understand that there are some things that need to be done to prepare for the dog team to inspect. (Hand them a prep list) Tell them, for the safety of the team, it is imperative that the list is complete. Let them know this is a service to protect the building and safety of the tenants and there is no extra charge.
Believe me, the cost of having regular scent detection pales in comparison to the cost of constant reactionary treatments over a years’ time. And if you don’t think you can afford it, call me and I will show you a way to have all your detection and remediation services paid for without coming out of your own pocket.
Stress the importance of having their unit prepared for the day of inspection and that you all have to work together. Let them know that if they don’t properly prepare they will have to pay for a re-scheduling fee of $100- 125.00 so please make sure you are fully prepared for the teams.
In cases of handicapped or elderly persons, find a way to offer a service to help them at a nominal cost.
Talk About Bed Bugs
It is no secret that bed bugs are plaguing our nation and will continued to do so for several decades to come. The more people that get their heads out of the sand and talk about them will help others to speak up as well. Take the shame away and realize that bed bugs are here to stay and have now made it into the list of standard household bugs like mosquitoes, fleas, cockroaches and spiders.
The IBBRA has written 13 educational books on bed bugs in all different venues and has built an organization of professional bed bug control companies’ detection dog teams and product manufacturers that are committed to helping people with their bed bug issues. Our Think like a Bed Bug book for complete bed bug awareness includes What NOT TO DO and is available to all property owners to hand to their tenants.
Call us for deep discounted prices! 888-966-2332 888-9-NOBEDBUGS
We are here to help! www.ibbra.org