How to Kill Roaches in a Rental Property

Written on January 20, 2013 by , updated on June 8, 2014

Guide to Roaches

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:

  1. After lease signing, I deliver a rental property that is super clean and bug-free
  2. Tenants move-in
  3. Tenants buy food to stock the fridge and pantry
  4. 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
  5. Roaches move-in to help eliminate the left-over food (how nice of them)
  6. Roaches make babies and flourish
  7. 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

  1. Boric Acid (my favorite):

    Roach Killer Powder, 16 ozIt 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.

  2. Bait Stations:

    Combat 766694/519 Quick Kill Formula Large Roach Bait StationsThese 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.

  3. Roach Gel:

    Combat Source Kill Max Roach Killing Gel, 60 Grams 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.

  4. Petroleum Jelly/Vaseline:

    Vaseline 100% Pure Petroleum Jelly, 13Ounce Jars (Pack of 3)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.

  5. Exterminator:

    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.

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?

photo credit: Gideon Tsang via cc
photo credit: Furryscaly via cc
photo credit: steve_lodefink via cc
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239 CommentsLeave a Comment

  • robfab

    forget the “2 week” part, I had a tenant move them in with him. maybe from the grocery store boxes he used for moving, maybe from his last place. another tenant saw a roach crawl out from under his door in the hall i the first week and almost caused the whole place to want to move out. we nipped it with an exterminator right away ad luckily never saw more. I sprinkle boric acid everywhere in kitchens and bathrooms, basements, before every move in. I tell them up front if they cause any infestations, they are responsible for all costs (even imply verbally including others moving) and warn them to be extremely careful about where they get moving boxes and any used furniture or large or small appliances now or later.

    • Lucas Hall

      Hey Rob,

      I hope you charged the exterminator bill to that tenant!

      The only reason I give the tenants 2 weeks before they are responsible is so I can guarantee that the units don’t have bugs at move-in. So, if the units do, then the bugs will be evident within 2 weeks. Everything after that is probably caused by messy tenants. It logically prevents the tenants from saying “the bugs were there when we moved in (6 months later)”.

      • brandy

        what if i have been living in a house duplex over two years never had roaches and then we get next door neighbors and we now are infested with them i have 3 small children and seems since the neighbors have brought the roaches with them me and the kids have been getting sick more often they are all moved out and we still see a ton of them me and my husband have poured boric acid all around the house we have bombed twice we have sprayed we have put the glue boards down the gel baits and we are still stuck with them any suggestions and we have never asked the landlord for anything have tried eliminating the problem on our own but he is aware of the problem and he also had to bomb and buy the neighbors spray for the apartment next door and even after moving out. we now have new neighbors and they are complaining as well because they are seeing them as well

        • Lucas Hall


          Sorry to hear about your roach problem.

          If the problem is severe enough (which is sounds like it is), then I suggest hiring a professional pest extermination company. Make sure to hire one with a “guarantee”, so they will come out as many times as needed until you don’t see any more roaches.

  • Andrea

    Hi I was wondering how else could you get roaches? I am a very clean person who cleans my house everyday from top to bottom. within the last week I’ve seen 3 roaches and getting worried. What should I do that won’t harm my 2 dogs?

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Andrea,

      I think the same solutions listed above still apply. Just make sure the boric acid, or bait stations are hidden and out of reach from your dogs. If you’re not comfortable doing it yourself, you could call a professional extermination company. They usually have a lot of experience with treating houses in a way that is safe for pets.

    • Grant

      Hi Andrea,

      The fact that you are a clean person doesn’t necessarily mean that you will never have roaches, and also an infestation doesn’t necessarily mean the person is unclean or a slob. Roaches can enter your home through the piping or from outside and are looking for food and water. They can survive a long time without water and even longer without food, so making sure your kitchen and bathroom sinks and counters are completely dry and that pipes aren’t leaking water can help.

      Since this sight is written by a landlord for other landlords, he’s operating under the assumption that he’s dealt with any pest problem before the next person moves in, so it’s automatically the person who moves in’s fault if roaches show up in order to avoid paying. That’s understandable, but there are many scenarios where a person could not have brought them in herself and did not bring about the problem though lack of cleanliness. Another possible situation would be where another tenant has an infestation but doesn’t notice, doesn’t care, is of a religion that tolerates them and/or forbids killing (I lived in a building with many Hindu people before), or he doesn’t want the landlord to know because he doesn’t want to pay. The roaches could then spread to other dwelling units, and once they’ve infested somewhere, it doesn’t matter how clean it is, they aren’t leaving until the population has been killed off.

      By having a policy of only being willing to take responsibility for a pest problem after the last tenant leaves and before the next arrives, a landlord is really leaving the door open to having a pest problem get out of control at no fault of any particular tenant. Also, in the case of a bedbug infestation, I believe there are Health and Safety requirements that would force action on the part of the owner. An alternate solution would be to include a nominal fee in everyone’s lease who lives there and work out a deal with an extermination company where they regularly spray and address pest control issues as they come up, rather than finding a way to justify blaming tenants to avoid having to deal with it.

      • Jenn

        I agree with what you said – automatically blaming tenants is neither fair nor realistic. I lived 39 roach-free years and then I moved in to my current apartment. I saw a bug on my first day in the apt. right on the counter and remember thinking “I hope that isn’t going to be a problem”. I may not be the world’s best housekeeper but roaches?! The worst I ever had to worry about was a few flies in the depths of summer around my garbage can. I was highly incensed and insulted when he (LL) and the city inspector came through. He (LL) directly said that I wouldn’t have roaches if I cleaned better. Big fat lie! Or else I would have had roaches at other times in my life. The inspector apologized and said he couldn’t do anything about it unless at least two units in the building complained. Well gee, that’s not really going to happen when one of the units has illegals and the third is a squat for the LL’s friends who occasionally do work for him.

  • Mary

    I live in an apartment complex, which they pay monthly for an exterminator to come out. They have sprayed my apartment even before I moved in (been in my unit for 3 months) and it is believed by the maintenance guy that it’s the woman above me that is not as clean. I am obsessively clean (always take my shoes off inside, taking my trash out every night, launder my sheets and clothing each week) but I am apparently the only tenant that has the largest bug problem. Three times of having an exterminator hasn’t eradicated the problem and I just purchased boric acid. Will this at least help prevent the major roach infestation inside my unit? How do I get a large management company do something about the dirty tenant above me?

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Mary,

      You’re between a rock and a hard place. Though you have control over your space, you don’t have any control over your neighbors. Further, in order for the management company to fully get rid of the roaches caused by your neighbor, they have to convince the neighbor to change his/her living behavior – which is almost impossible to do.

      They also can’t terminate her lease or kick her out unless she is so dirty that it is damaging the property, blocking fire escapes, or causing a nuisances. Even then “hoarding” is considered a disability. Further, they have to “prove” that your neighbor is the cause – which is hard to do.

      My suggestion to you would to to spray boric acid powder into all the nooks and crannies that you can find. Spray it in the floorboard, around the outlets, and any area that a roach might live. Since it’s a powder, be sure to wear a mask so you don’t breath it in. Then, try to have a decent conversation with the exterminator and ask him to fight on your behalf, to plead with the management company. If he says “we’ll never get rid of the roaches unless I can treat the neighbors unit” perhaps the management company will perform a mandatory treatment of the unit above you, which will hopefully help.

      Good Luck!

  • Kristin

    I did my friend a favor and managed an apartment complex for her this week while she had surgery. A tenant called me and reported roaches. It’s a REALLY CLEAN complex, and these people were filthy. I nearly gagged going into the apartment. I had an exterminator come spray (surrounding units too) but the person who reported the problem would not comply with the clean up requirements (clean out cupboards, etc.) and the exterminator couldn’t spray. Since I’m not working there next week, I called the exterminator back for when the manager is there. But do tenants have requirements for cleaning if you want to spray? If they keep the kitchen covered with old food and grease, is that cause for them to eventually be evicted? I’m just curious. I’m looking for a rental, and I will honestly consider my neighbors very carefully. Which sounds terrible, but you could smell the apartment from outside of it. The exterminator said the infestation was bad and at least 7 months old. It was never reported until this week.

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Kristin,

      I believe it’s a team effort when getting rid of roaches. If they want the roaches to disappear, they have to help with the solution by complying with all instructions. If they want you to pay for the exterminator, the least they could do is help the exterminator perform a thorough job by cleaning out the cabinets. In fact, if their lifestyle (filthiness) attracted the roaches, then you could even make a strong case that they should have to pay for the extermination.

      If their lifestyle is causing physical damage to the unit, then yes, you can terminate their lease for a lease violation (with proper notice). You should give them a chance to remedy it (cleaning up). This is called a “notice to remedy or quit”, and your state laws will tell you how much notice is needed:

      Then, if they don’t leave, you’d have to file an eviction with the courts – since only the sheriff can physically force them to leave. Keep in mind, I’m not a lawyer, so please don’t consider this legal advice.

  • Bridget

    I have been living in a place that what the maintenance people call a “roach hotel”. I have done my part by being the responsible tenent and following what the rules say about care of your home but I am at my wits end and I need HELP!!! I have spoken to the leasing office SEVERAL times and they have a pest guy but he came in my apartment and sprayed 2 palces by the sliding glass door not realizing that my husband was home and left. My husband watched him spray in the specific spots and leave. Granted he should have said something and made him spray but he didn’t and called me at I immediately called the leasing office. I have a hamster which I keep clean but the roaches are now invading his space. I have an asthmatic child and I am just fed up. This week alone we have killed at least 30 roaches in our apartment of all sizes. I have called and called and tried to get help but it is to no avail. We have sealed every opening we could find, have the boric acid, the roach bait,I bleach EVERYTHING, put things in containers and NOTHING IS HELPING. I am here because my credit is not good and this is the only place we can afford to live. I JUST NEED HELP.PLEASE STEER ME IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION!!!!!


    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Bridget,

      It sounds like you need a professional exterminator to treat the entire building (not just a sliding door). Roaches tend to live in walls. Once they are already in the building, only an idiot would think to spray a sliding door (point of entry).

      If there are other tenants in the building, could you band together, and write a demand letter to the landlording, asking to “bug bomb” the building? Something drastic needs to happen in order for the landlord to take you seriously. It’s gotten this bad because of lack of maintenance. If you still can’t get any help, you should call the county health department. They could send out an inspector, and then force the landlord to take action.

      I suggest documenting every roach that you find, every form of communication that you have with your landlord, and every action that was taken to remedy the problem. If the landlord is not providing a habitable place to live, then he/she is in violation of the lease, and you can terminate your lease with proper notice. Check out: .

      Keep in mind, I’m not a lawyer, so please don’t consider this legal advice. There are plenty of “legal aid services” in your state that could help you real legal advice, and help you fight this situation.

  • Mallory

    My husband and I moved into a new apartment 17 days ago. We came from a very clean apartment that was treated for bugs every single month. I have never had bugs in my life, so I’m certain I didn’t bring them. Meanwhile, our apartment was empty on hold for us over the summer without anyone in it, about a month. We paid for the holding along with our deposit.
    On the tenth day in our new place, we started spotting roaches. It’s been another week and they’re everywhere. We’ve taken the trash out every day, laid traps, sprayed gel into the cracks, bagged all our food, elevated the pet bowls, wiped down the sink after use, you name it, and more keep popping up. We reported it the same day we saw them, which is when the property manager admitted that while our apartment hadn’t complained of roaches since 2002, the building itself has been consistently infested, and the apartment below us had them as recently as last year. We were told a pro would come out and spray our place and inspect the neighboring apartments. We haven’t received a date for when the exterminator will come, and we did contact again three days later.
    As of today I am packing a bag to stay with my in-laws. I’m also looking into boarding our cats. My husband is saying he will stay and wait to meet with the exterminator, but I can’t take it. I’ve started contacting the city to make sure we do everything right.
    At this point, I would like to seriously look into giving notice and moving out. The property manager has been sympathetic, and the second big leasing boom of the season is coming up in 10 weeks. Our lease states we must give 55 days notice before leaving. If I agree to give 55 days notice, eat the cost of the deposit, and move out in time for them to clean for the next leasing boom while also doing my part to maintain the roach problem, do you think it would be worth discussing breaking the lease with our landlord?

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Mallory,

      I think it is worth a try. It doesn’t hurt to ask! Perhaps you might wait to see what the manager would propose before showing your hand? Perhaps he/she might let you out with only 30 day notice, or better.

      As long as the manager is actively trying to remove the roaches, you would still be responsible for the lease – unless the situation makes the apartment inhabitable.

      So, trying to negotiate your release is the best approach, in my opinion.

      Keep in mind, I’m not a lawyer so please don’t take this as legal advice.

      • Mallory

        Thank you for your reply.

        Since posting this, an exterminator did come out, but our apartment was the only part of the building sprayed. We went back to the leasing office and told them we found this to be entirely unsatisfactory, and would like to break the lease. The owner was not in, so we left a note. We left our first note on the 25th, and another on the 30th when we didn’t hear back. We also had the apartment inspected by the city on the 25th.

        It’s been two weeks and we’re still consistently seeing roaches in every part of the apartment. At this point we’re looking to threaten legal action.

  • Vanessa

    Hi Lucas,

    I never received any complaint from tenant about pest problem. This is my first time received the complaint from my tenant and she move in about 3 weeks now. I have only one rental house.

    About a week that my tenant move in, she complain seeing a few roaches in the kitchen. I contacted Orkin Pest Control and have a professional technician came out to do inspection the whole house. The technician found only 1 roaches under the stove and he used IGR Growth and used baits. The technician came back the follow week to check how the 1st treatment went. The tenant complain she found 8 more in the kitchen & laundry. The technician inspected kitchen, laundry area and found no activity in monitors or live activity.The technician set more traps through out kitchen, baited all hinges. The tenant complain found 5 small one again in the kitchen.

    What should I do when a professional technician told me that they found no evidence when they came out to unit to check while the tenant complain she found 8, then found ? She took one picture to show 1 roaches in the dishwasher cupboard.

    My lease said it is the tenant responsibility to make reasonable provision for the ongoing extermination of any interior pests. Any interior pest problems that occur after the initial 45 days of occupancy, will be deemed the responsibility of the Tenant. Any infestation is caused due to tenant’s habits or behavior, tenant will be responsible for all extermination costs.

    Currently I pay for the invoice that the technician came out on the 1st treatment. I has the contract with Orkin for the 12 months service agreement and they guarantee.

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Vanessa

      I’ve personally experienced a similar problem, and it’s my opinion that you should believe that your tenant is telling the truth. Tenants live in the property and have more of an opportunity to see pests. Exterminators, though trained professionals, are only at the property for 15-60 mins, and just because they didn’t see any roaches during that time, doesn’t mean they don’t exist.

      Because the tenant has only been in the property for 3 weeks, it’s unlikely that she brought the roaches with her, nor is her living behavior attracting roaches that quickly. Unless you see open food and trash throughout the house, there’s a strong chance that the roaches were there when she moved in. It’s completely possible that the previous tenants caused them (or even saw them), but didn’t want to say anything because they knew they would have to pay for it.

      Unfortunately for you, my suggestion is for you to pay the full price of the extermination treatment. If this happened 2 months after she moved in, then it would be a different story. Paying for the treatment in full would also be consistant with your lease, since any residual roaches that you find month’s from now would probably be from the same nest.

      Of course, the method of the treatment is completely up to you. I probably would have tried inexpensive boric acid first, and then hired Orkin if that didn’t work. You could also cancel the ongoing treatment and not buy the guarantee, but that’s just one risk you have to consider.

      The good news for you is that you can use this as a sign of good faith towards your tenant. Use it to show that you are looking out for her, and that you aren’t trying to fine her for damages that she didn’t cause.

      I hope that helps. Please know that I’m not a lawyer, and this is just my non-legal opinion.

  • vanessa

    I email yesterday regarding the roaches & my tenant. I think I forget to click on the box notify me of follow up comments via e-mail. I am looking for any opinion you might have.


  • Eddie

    Hi Lucas

    I live in a 8 unit apartment building and have been here for 15 years. I’ve never seen a cockroach the whole time I’ve been here. Now one of the tenants is reporting a few cockroaches and the managers have decided to spray the entire building. I’ve made it clear I don’t want my apartment sprayed but they think that once they spray the other apartments the cockroaches will all run to my apartment, which I don’t really think will happen. Question? Do I have to comply with the landlords for these very few cockroaches? makes no sense.

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Eddie,

      I highly suggest allowing the manager to treat your unit. If you do not, you could be held liable for the continuing infestation. Don’t give them an excuse to pin this expense on you.

  • Theresa

    Hi. Ive been living in a 2 flat 3 years now. Ive never had roaches in my life. Ive been told I have OCD because of my cleanliness. After moving in we saw a couple of roaches. I complained and the landlord sent an exterminator. The upstairs tenants moved out a couple months later and there was about a month or so before the apartment was rented. During that time I saw no roaches. Its since been occupied by same tenants for over 2 years and there is constant sightings. The landlord does schedule exterminations but only after I complain not on a regular basis as been suggested by exterminator who also identified the problem being the upstairs unit. I hate moving but I feel its my only option at this point.

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Theresa,

      You’re in a tricky situation. The landlord isn’t really responsible for the cleanliness of other units, unless it effects habitability – assuming that the landlord owns both units. Then the landlord must deal with the dirty tenant, so it doesn’t effect you. If you think that it renders your unit inhabitable, then you can make a complaint to the local/county housing authority, then ask the landlord to terminate you lease. In fact, you can ask the landlord first, prior to talking to the county – if you’d prefer.

      If the landlord says no, then the county would have to deem the property inhabitable, before you have a leg to stand on.

      If you have a monthly lease, you could terminate it with short notice – but you’d have to check your state laws to terminate how much notice is required. This should help:

      I hope that gives you some guidance. If you’re looking for legal advice, you’ll need to talk to a lawyer – which I am not :)

  • Amanda

    Hi Lucas,
    I moved from Ohio to Texas with my husband a couple years ago and had never even saw a cockroach in real life until we moved here. We just moved a couple weeks ago, but the house we were previously staying in was always kept clean. I have 3 small children, a 2 year old daughter and 1 year old twin boys, so there were usually a few toys on the ground at any given time but I always made sure that the dishes were done, trash was taken out, and so on… Even if I had to do so after the kids went to bed. To make a long story short, we lived there for 2.5 years only seeing an occasional roach, maybe once every 5 or 6 months. After awhile, we start seeing them more and more so I started taking immediate action by buying all of the things you listed above. Boric acid, roach bait, roach gel. I would find tons of dead roaches but it seemed like the more we would kill, the more we would see. It got so bad that we would even see them during the day! Every time I opened a cabinet or anything. We ended up moving out because our landlord was ridiculous and never cared about any of his properties. My husband and I were VERY cautious about everything when we moved. We didn’t use any cardboard boxes, inspected everything thoroughly, laundered all of our clothing, bedding, etc. then immediatly sealed everything. We just went ahead and threw out the smaller cheaper appliances like the microwave, because in my opinion I was better off just buying new than risking it. Anyway, we have been in our new house for a little over 2 weeks now (Owned by my husbands boss) and we are starting to see a couple roaches here and there. We know they weren’t here before because we knew the people that lived here before us (Husbands co-workers) I am shocked because we were so overly cautious. I’m pretty sure it’s just a few strays from the move, definatly not an infestation yet but we would like to nip this in the bud now and never have to deal with the nightmare of living with roaches ever again. My question is, what can I do for just a few strays that must have made their way in through the move? We set out some roach bait. I also keep this house so ridiculously clean that you could eat off the floors, but I know cockroaches will eat stuff other than food as well. What else should we be doing to make sure this doesn’t become a big issue?

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Amanda

      My favorite is boric acid whenever there are just few roaches. But, I also have the opinion that you can’t really go wrong with over-treating – especially if you’re trying to nip this in the bud.

      Use the boric acid powder and spray it in all the nooks and cracks around the areas that you are seeing roaches. Lay a bunch of liquid based traps in places that your children can’t reach.

      If it still doesn’t help, you could always hire an exterminator and pay for the “guarantee”. It will cost you a little more than the one time treatment but then you can call them back as many times as you want.

      Good luck!

      Unfortunately, this won’t be the last time in your life that you see roaches. Sometimes they show up, and they even come from the sewers, and you just have to deal with them. Sometimes it has nothing to do with how clean you keep the unit.

      I often wonder why God decided to create roaches. They don’t seem to serve any good purpose in this world.

  • Christin

    Hi Lucas,
    Thank you for all your responses. I have lived in the same rental property (a complex that is owned and managed by a national company) for 2.5 years. I’ve never had a problem until last week when I suddenly saw 1 small roach. I immediately went to Home Depot and got Raid plus Baits. That night, my BF killed 6 (!), the next morning, he and I cleaned like crazy people- behind stove/fridge, etc. We think we found the next inside the motor of the fridge. I placed a bait back there and behind the stove as well as a couple others in the area. I called management immediately and the earliest the pest control would come out is Thurs (5 days later). I knocked on the person above and below me as well as next to me and asked that they also get sprayed. The people directly next to me had sprayed 1 week before because they had been seeing roaches (they had moved in in May). Anyway, the exterminator came last Thurs- he sprayed and put bait in all the cabinets. I have only seen 1 dead roach (shouldn’t there be more dead??) and many more live ones (only at night but still)- now they are moving from the kitchen to the dining area. I vacuum nightly, take out the trash nightly, haven’t eaten at home in 1 week, wipe down the sink and my dog bowls after use, etc. I put my name on the list for retreatment on Thurs. I finally got in touch with the people above me (who, by the way, have multiple dead roaches outside their apt) and he refuses to let them spray inside his apartment because he “is moving on the 12th.” I don’t know what else to do. I went back to the store and put down boric acid myself behind the fridge and in the cabinets. I can’t put them in the dining area because of my dog. Can management force the person upstairs to get sprayed inside as well? Everyone else in the building is cooperating.

  • Lisa


    I have been renting a room for almost 6months. A New tenant that moved in almost 2 months ago brought roaches with her. We bombed the rooms but the house still has roaches. I decided to move out by the end of the month. Im very concerned and scared to take a roach with me. I have a wood bed frame with 2 other wood cabinets and a small tv, lamp and fan. Please help me what do I do for i wont take any roaches with me? Please help me. Thanks

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Lisa,

      You just have to be very very very careful when you pack up.

      You could also try putting Harris Roach tablets in your room a few weeks before you pack up. Hopefully that will lure any remaining roaches out of their hiding spaces and kill them.

      If you take some roaches with you, you’ll just have to deal with it when you get to the new place. Sorry I didn’t have a better answer for you.

  • Kat Rodriguez

    I moved about two weeks ago and as much as I tried to leave the bugs behind they still followed me into my new apartment. I was living in someone’s basement with my family (husband, toddler and infant) and the owners of this home were not very clean and had no intention of getting rid of the horrible infestation in their home. I tried everything I could to not carry them over to my apartment, but unfortunately some traveled in our belongings. I absolutely hate these bugs and feel very disgusted by them. They kill my appetite and I definitely do not want them in my home with my babies. So far I have killed three full grown ones and just today I found about 5 tiny ones on my kitchen floor and walls. I keep the kitchen clean(even bleach it every night) but I still see some around. I hope there are not many around because it is even hard to sleep thinking about them reproducing. Having my toddler walking around and my infant starting to crawl makes it a bit hard to chose a product to get rid of them. So far I have bait stations everywhere and have been spraying them with Raid every time I see one. What is your recommendation in my case? Please help!!

  • kelly olson

    i have a problem i have lived at the same residence for almost five years in the last year the landlord rented the unit next to me to some really not good people . i noticed the cockroaches about 3 months after they moved in i told the landloard and she told me she was trying to get them out for other reasons ,but it too 6 months to get them out . i tried everything tioo get rid of the cockroaches . the landlord was hesitant to do anything about it until they were out. i understand but as time went on it got worse and worse . finally they moved out and she needed it cleaned and she asked me if i could clean it for her . i cleaned for her on occasion. And i was real worried about the pest problem so she went and got some stuff for the apt and i went to clean it….. OMG i had never seen anything like that i was horrified they were everywhere in the walls behind the cabinets there were so many under the fridge that they were piled on top of each other . well i spread that stuff she gave me everywhere and to no avail the electrician the next day said he would not work in there until it was under control. so we told her how bad it was and she needed a professional . they ccame one time. and treated and are suppose to come in one month to the day for the next treatment. now i have treated and killed everything i could here on my side but they are still there and i see new healthy one everyday . its been about 3 weeks since she had the exterminator here. i find many cockroaches not only in my kitchen but in other rooms . the place i live in is very big my unit alone has 4 bedrooms and 2 living rooms 3 bathrooms and he unit next door is the same .i am so tired of this problem i have gone beyond exstream with cleaning and spraying. help

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Kelly

      It sounds like treating a single unit won’t fix the problem. The roaches are so infested that they will move from unit to unit to avoid treatment.

      If the landlord owns the whole building, I suggest having all the units treated by a professional at once. Yes it will be expensive, but that’s the only way that I think you will be able to get them all.

      With that said, I’m not an exterminator so a pro’s guidance would be better than mine, I’m sure.

      You could also talk to a lawyer about breaking your lease, if that is your desire.

  • David M

    Hi Lucas,

    I live in a slum. It’s about three complexes big about 20(give or take a few) per complex. Shaped in a U. Anyway, we lived in a one-bedroom complex that was just one right behind it before a huge fire. The landlord is renting us the two-bedroom for 385/month which usually goes for 415.(The price alone should say something.) Now, I’m not going to sit here typing and lie; I’m not the CLEANEST, but I’m also not FILTHY. I don’t clean top-to-bottom every night. I work nights and sleep days. It’s hard. However – I DO KEEP MY APARTMENT CLEAN. You never see dishes in my sink for more than a few hours, the floors are always swept, the kitchen always mopped, cats litter boxes always clean. This place is literally a slum. The dirtiest neighbors. Loud, annoying, disrespectful and careless.

    The landlords answer to getting rid of roaches is sending a maintenance man over to spray a few crevices with, in my opinion, watered down garbage. We have a roach infestation. They usually only come out at night. I have tried to Boric Acid, it has worked SOMEWHAT… but not really. Roach motels did a good job, captured a lot of them – But my question —

    What can I do about this? The landlord isn’t a landlord, he’s a slumlord. He doesn’t care. He sits at his desk to collect the rent and if you complain he gives excuses and whines like a little baby. In my situation, what would you do? What could be done? There is no clause in the lease about extermination what so ever. Would this be a reason to with-hold rent with the 14/30 day legal thing? (14 days to get it fixed or I vacate in 30).



    • Lucas Hall

      Hi David,

      You’re not alone and many of us on this forum have fought roaches before. Unfortunately, when you live in a multifamily building, everyone has to be roach free, or none of you will be. Your neighbor’s mess becomes your mess because you share walls and roaches can easily travel between them.

      The only real way to get rid of them is to treat the entire building since they are not likely contained to your unit.

      If it’s an issue of habitability, then you could withhold rent, however whenever tenant’s do this, it usually ends in lease termination and an long-winded court case. I don’t recommend withholding rent without talking to a lawyer first.

      You could notify the local housing authority and health dept. They might put some pressure on the landlord to provide clean, safe living conditions – which is his responsibility.

      I hope that helps. Please know that I am not a lawyer nor a professional pest control expert. I’m just an experienced landlord, trying to help.

  • Leslie

    How about vehicles? I bought a used Jeep Cherokee for an amazing deal. Was very clean and for the first week I was very happy. Then one day I stopped at Chick fil A. On the way home I had to run in Lowes to get something and left the food in the top of the baby bag in the back seat. I came out 10 mins later and put my toddler in his seat. He asked for a french fry. So I went to the other side too grab him one and little german roaches came scattering out of the food. My first thought before I thought rationally was the restaurant. But there were too many. They went scattering all over the ground. (I now know why I got such a good deal.)They also were transfered in my house where I have lived for a very long time and was very proud to never see a roach. They have now taken over our lives. We have tried it all to no avail. We have bombed the truck, set baites, sprayed, fogged. If we can’t get them outta of the truck they will never stay out of the house. So can I use this in the truck?

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Leslie

      Thanks for your comment. I think these products would be worth a try. If they don’t work, you could call a professional pest control company to treat your vehicle.

  • AZK

    My husband and I just recently moved into a mobile home (2 days ago). the homes was recently remodeled and it looked great when we came to it. We moved most of our things in and the first night WERE going to stay there roaches were covered all over the walls, windows, and door frames. I called the landlord immediately, they have agreed to do exterminating but I am seven months pregnant. Luckily for us we still have our moving-out home available for us to stay in but the majority of belonging are in the infestation of pests – to include our daughters nursery, our bedroom furniture, kitchen goods, and etc. My concern is will the pest nest in our belongings and how long will it be before they disappear?

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi there,

      Roaches have a way of finding themselves into small places. I’ve heard of them even getting into a TV and being moved from house to house.

      Your landlord is doing the right thing by treating the house. You should talk to the pest control company about the general safety of the treatment and what precautions you need to take.

      I find that the best approach is to use multiple treatments at once. Though a professional is going to spray in and around the house, you could also use boric acid tablets, or spray the powder into the walls. The more you do, the quicker they will disappear.

  • JJ

    For how long should I leave the boric acid out? I have no kids / pets, so is it safe to always leave boric acid around the baseboards, or should I remove it after a certain amount of time?


    • Lucas Hall

      As long as you want, but if you keep seeing roaches, I suggesting cleaning it up and treating another spot. I usually buy the squeeze powder and spray it into the cracks in the walls, behind cabinets, floor boards, and other dark places. Roaches usually don’t hang out in obvious places, like baseboards. I hope that helps!

  • Dasha

    So last night around 1 am I got up to make my baby a bottle and I saw just 2 very small roaches and 2 other ones just a little bigger but I keep my apartment very clean so I wondered why but I killed them swept and mopped again mind I’ve been here for a month now but I haven’t seen any pepper looking stuff in anything so I though that they may have came in from a crack from the outside I haven’t seen anything since so I’m wondering should I buy something or no since its only been a one time thing?

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Dasha,

      In my experience, when there is one, there are more you can’t see.

      Some of these treatments, especially the boric acid powder and tablets are extremely inexpensive. I suggest buying some at the grocery store, or local hardware store, and placing some around the house (where your baby can’t get to it).

      Good luck!

  • Tabatha

    Before we moved into our triples, the one he let us look at was not ours but another one, he said it was due to painting ours. The day that we moved in wr noticed roaches. We said something and he sprayed himself and brought diggers, I will not use them due to them never working right. We bought bait traps and they aren’t working we are at a loss at this point do we call the landlord and ask him to call an exterminator or what? We really don’t have the money to move out. We have only been here a week. Please help.

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Tabatha

      The landlord should be responsible to provide a pest-free unit when you move-in.

      Therefore, I think he should pay for a professional exterminator to come out as many times as needed until the roaches are gone. If he can’t do that, then he should let you out of your lease or provide another unit for you to live in if you want to go that route.

      …just my non-legal two cents.

      If you continue to have a dispute, you could call your local housing authority and file a complaint – or talk to a lawyer.

      • Tabatha

        Thank you. I am going to try one more thing before I take action, and I wanted your opinion. I was researching on the internet and I know not to believe everything on the internet but was reading reviews and they were excellent. There’s this max stuff gel that I had ordered from Wal-Mart and I would like your opinion on it please, thank you.

        • Lucas Hall

          Hi Tabatha,

          If you are talking about the gel tube that I mention in the article above, then I’ve totally used that before.

          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.

          Good luck.

  • Tomica

    Good Morning,
    I just got approved for an apartment for a really affordable price a mth. Im a single parent and its just me and my two kids. I just got my keys yesterday went to the apartment after receiving the keys just to check out everything to make sure it looks ok. Of course it look just fine in the day light. Went back later last night walk in turn the lights on and there goes the roaches. I havent moved any of my stuff in yet. So disappointed because that was the last thing i wanted to see. My kids were so grossed out they ask me mom do we have to move here we dont like bugs. Any suggestions????

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Tomica,

      Sorry to hear about that. My suggestion would be to contact your landlord immediately and demand that he have the unit professionally treated. Generally speaking, the landlord is responsible for ensuring the unit is free of pests when you move-in.

      If he/she refuses, then you could report the unit to your local housing authority, or attempt to break the lease – but please talk to a lawyer first if you prefer the latter (which I am not).

      Good luck!

  • Ana Rodriguez

    I recently moved out of a duplex because of roaches. They where apparent the same night we moved in. Later we learned that the people who moved out last where very dirty ( and the manager still let them move into a duplex across the parking lot!) and they also moved out because of the roach problem. Of course, the tenants in the apartment next to us swear up and down that they do not have roaches and they would not spray there home. Any who…. they sprayed the apartment three times during our stay we stayed out of the home for a day and returned with in 24 hours. I did not get any paper work about what kind of spray they where using but it must have been some tough stuff because it left the floor around the base boards and under the refrigerator dark. After googleing who to kill roaches I found out how harmful these sprays can be.
    My question is should i have received some kind of paper work regarding what was being sprayed?? Can the manager inviolation of any codes??

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Ana

      In short, I don’t know if you should have received documentation on the type of chemical. However, you should be able to call up the pest control company and ask them. If you don’t know who they are, the manager should be able to tell you.

      I don’t know how the manager would be liable for the chemicals that a company used. If anyone, the pest control company would have to take responsibility for their products. However, that’s only if you have actual damages. A little floor discoloration is unfortunate, but were there actually any health issues related to the chemical? I guess you wont’ know until you research it further.

      Good luck to you!

  • Ranan

    I have roaches problem too. I’m a type of people who phobia of bugs. The bad truth is the when I moved to live in this apt I relized one roach at the first day in this apt. The building we live in in is very old and Smeles stinky from the out door. My husband had rent this apt Bc of its location he didn’t pay attention to the clean side. He lived in this apt two months before me. He saw one time roach before I came he did not take it serously bc he spend most of his time at work. I have 9 months old baby I couldn’t let him practice things he has to enjoy bc of these roaches. I stay worried the whole time. We are about to leave this apt and my concern is how to make sure I’m not gonna transfer them with me. What should I do?! Plz help

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Ranan

      Sorry to hear about the roaches. You’ll just have to try your hardest to put everything in bags and clean all your furniture as best as you can.

      Then, if you see a roach at your new place, it’s probably just one or two that moved over and you could hire a pest control company to treat your new place ASAP – before they grow in numbers.

  • ARenter

    We started to see roaches about 2 months after we moved into this tri-level house. I had set our daughter’s unfinished dinner on the new marble counter top to put her in the bath. 30 min later there was a roach trying to finish it for her.

    Property manager says for all he knows we brought them with us! Hmmm… My wife is one of those “mops the kitchen every day” people and I have been a “corporate” renter in 5 cities over 20 yrs and never saw more than the ants a that slab house in Ohio.

    The landlord had a quarterly spray scheduled from back more than 5 yrs when she lived here. The 50 yr old place received a lot of “spruce up” including new kitchen, fresh paint, and new doors throughout, just before we moved in. We moved from a house uptown to get our 3 yr old away from traffic.

    When we found there was no grounded plug in the kitchen for a microwave, the property mgr told us to get one of those 3 to 2 prong adapters. No ground? No thank you!

    And all for $2000/mo

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi there,

      It sounds like the place just needs to be treated for roaches. If your PM is not willing to do anything, then you could try some of the solutions listed above (esp. Boric Acid).

      You’d have to call the building code office in your county to ask about the plug in the kitchen. Many times, a property is grandfathered into the building codes from when it was built, but if the electrical in the kitchen was ever renovated, they would need to add a ground to the outlets.

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