Ring, Ring,… We have Roaches!
“Roaches are evil spawns from the pits of hell” (tweetable?).
From time to time, they choose to rear their ugly heads and cause major issues for landlords and tenants. For a landlord, roaches are like the sleazy con artist 2nd-removed uncle that stops by (uninvited) to sleep on your couch indefinitely when your wife is 9.2 months pregnant. In my opinion, the best way to get rid of them both is to poison them.
Okay, sorry uncle Ernie. But in all seriousness, roaches can be a big problem for landlords. In my experience, they tend to show up a few months after my new tenants move-in (especially the group houses, with tenants under 30 years old). There seems to be a direct correlation between sub-par cleanliness, and the presence of roaches – go figure.
My theory on how roaches happen:
- After lease signing, I deliver a rental property that is super clean and bug-free
- Tenants move-in
- Tenants buy food to stock the fridge and pantry
- 2-3 months go by of inadequate cleaning habits such as: food spoiling, piles of dishes in the sink at all times, and bags of garbage left inside the house
- Roaches move-in to help eliminate the left-over food (how nice of them)
- Roaches make babies and flourish
- Tenants call me to complain about a mysterious roach problem. Tenants are genuinely confused as to why there would be bugs in the house.
I politely remind them that the lease clearly states that they are responsible for all pest control after the first 2 weeks following move-in. However, I realize that I am vested in making sure that the roach problem doesn’t become a full-blown infestation – so I try to help solve the problem as quickly as possible.
If I don’t get involved, and the tenants do nothing, then the roaches take over. If that happens, tenants often leave suddenly, and I could potentially get slapped with a health code violation.
How to Get Rid of Roaches
It comes in two forms: Tablets and Powder. Roaches will eat boric acid and die. The powder also acts like a sandpaper on the roach’s exoskeleton - causing them to die.
You can blow the powder into hard to reach places which helps increase your coverage. One easy trick is to mix the powder with sweetened condensed milk until it becomes a sticky paste. The paste is an edible poison that the roaches cannot resist. Remember, keep this poison out of reach of any pets or children.
These bait stations are the “cleanest” of all the methods since you don’t actually touch any chemicals. The bait stations use a special type of mold that is toxic to roaches but not harmful to people or pets. Though cleaner, I don’t believe they work as well as Boric acid.
The roach gel contains food, water, and poison. It works very well, but I usually end up buying 3-5 tubes of it to treat a whole house. The gel is sticky and therefore can be placed on the underside of cabinets or on vertical walls.
Using petroleum jelly or Vaseline you can create a live trap from which the roaches cannot escape. Simply rub jelly on the inside wall of a tall non-transparent glass. Place a water-soaked paper at the bottom of the glass, and place some rotting food on top of that. The roaches will climb into the glass for the food and water, but can’t climb out because of the jelly. It will work but they jelly can be messy, and I don’t like having rotting food in my house, nor live roaches.
Pest Control Companies are usually effective, but sometimes only after 2-3 consecutive treatments. Therefore, I only sign contracts with pest control companies that offer a “guarantee” that they will eliminate the pests – which means they will continue to come back for follow-up treatments until the pesky invaders are gone.
Be a good Landlord: help solve the roach problem
If I live nearby, I try to help solve the problem quickly. I will buy some Boric Acid from the hardware store, and spend 10 minutes putting it all around the house – anywhere that I think roaches might be hiding. The powder product (or in paste form mixed with sweetened condensed milk) lets you lay a line of poison that the roaches will have cross, so I usually do that around the trash area.
If I don’t live near the rental property, I will tell my tenants to go buy it and treat the house themselves. I offer to pay for the supplies if they send me a receipt. It only costs about $10-15, so offering to pay for it is my way to make sure they actually do it.
If there’s only a few roaches
Harris Roach Killer Powder is my favorite because it’s cheap and IT WORKS! The tablets also come in handy for throwing into walls and attic spaces. Depending on how many roaches are in your property, it usually only takes about 1-3 days to get rid of them all with Boric Acid.
If there are dozens of roaches
If an infestation is already well underway, I just call an exterminator (who has a guarantee) and make my tenants pay for it (per the lease, of course). For major infestations, the exterminator will have to come back multiple times to fully eradicate the pests. I make my tenants schedule and be present for the appointments with the Pest Control Company.
Applicable Lease Clause
I use the following clause in my leases to help with pest control at my rental properties.
PEST CONTROL. Landlord is responsible for the cost of any pest control services performed within the first two weeks after the Tenant(s) take possession of the premise. The cost of pest control services performed after the first two weeks of occupation is the responsibility of the Tenant(s).
Share Your Story
We’ve all dealt with roaches at one point in our lives. Describe your experience in the Comments below. Did you defeat this nemesis, or did you learn to live in a symbiotic relationship?