Best Pest Control and Prevention Tips for Your Rental Property

Written on November 5, 2014 by , updated on August 18, 2020

Pest Prevention and ControlFall in the northern regions of the United States can cause unwanted furry friends to take refuge in your home or rental property.

While managing properties in the Midwest, I have experienced issues with the following unwelcome visitors:

  • Mice and Rats
  • Birds and Bats
  • Squirrels
  • Roaches
  • Ants and Other Insects

My best advice is to prevent pests from getting into your property in the first place. However, if you are reading this article, it may be too late for prevention.

If you are reading this article, it may be too late for prevention.

Listed below are my tips for prevention as well as the best ways I have found for controlling or eliminating pests that have already found their way in.

Pest Prevention Tips

1. Educate Your Tenants

Finding out what maintenance issues are going on in your properties is much easier when you ask your tenants rather than waiting for them to tell you!

    • Educate them that doors and windows left open without a screen are open invitations welcoming nature in.
    • Inform them of the risk of damage and their financial responsibilities due to negligence on their part.
    • Impress upon them the importance of cleanliness and taking garbage out regularly.
    • Send a monthly or quarterly email updating them on the maintenance schedule and requesting that they inform you if anything seems out of the ordinary with the house or apartment.

It’s much easier to ask your tenants about issues rather than wait for them to tell you!

2. Perform Annual Preventive Maintenance

Before the cool weather arrives, check the exterior of the buildings for entry points and seal them up with steel wool, caulk, cement or caps as needed.

  • An uncapped chimney can be an entry point for squirrels.
  • Small holes in the mortar, foundation, near pipe or vent holes can be entry points for mice.
  • Small holes in your siding or roof can be entry points for birds and bats.
  • Holes and tears in window screens can be entry points for insects.
  • A loose sewer cap can be pushed open by rats.
  • An unprotected exhaust pipe for the dryer can become home for a variety of animals, or a place where a child might decide to stick ping pong balls, which also is not good.

Yes, all of these things have happened at my properties.

Pest Control Tips

Getting rid of rodents and insects once they have gained access is sometimes difficult, but not impossible. Though I’m not a pest-control professional, I’ve certainly had my fair share of standoffs with mice.

Whenever possible, I try to solve the problem myself, which saves me thousands of dollars every year.

Here are the techniques that I have used to rid my properties of pests, without having to hire a pest-control company.

Mice and Rats

  1. Traditional Snap Traps
    I have found that traditional snap traps work best with peanut butter as the bait for mice and rats.  If you catch a rat in a mouse-sized trap, it will typically not kill the rat but will trap it until you are able to dispose of it.
  2. Poison
    Poison is effective for killing pests but can also be harmful to pets and people.  I have used poison successfully for the rats that pushed the sewer line cap open (yuck!!!).  The poison I used was in a pet-proof/child-proof container and I purchased it from our local pest-control expert.
  3. Live Traps
    These are cages meant to trap the pest alive so you can release it back into the wild.  Just be sure you don’t release it anywhere near the home you just caught it in.  It will likely find its way right back in.

Birds and Bats

Sealing up their point of entry will usually trap them in or out.

If you trap them inside, they will likely die due to lack of food which is not only inhumane, but will create a smell that might last for weeks. If you do trap them inside the house, try to capture and release the critter outdoors.


  1. Provide an Exit
    Open doors and windows to see if they will leave on their own.
  2. Chase Them Out
    If they don’t exit on their own, gradually chase/move towards them with a large sheet in the direction of the nearest exit.
  3. Trap ’em
    Still not gone?  Set a live trap and release far from the home they were occupying.

Once the squirrel is gone, immediately identify possible points of entry. If you are not able to quickly seal up possible entry points permanently, use temporary methods until you are able to find a better solution.


According to the Discovery Channel, roaches would survive a nuclear bomb. If this is true, how in the world can you rid them from your rental?

Try these methods, which we detail in the article How to Kill Roaches in a Rental Property.

  1. Boric Acid
  2. Bait Stations
  3. Roach Gel
  4. Petroleum Jelly in a Glass
  5. Professional Exterminator

Ants and Insects

Pesticide is one of the most-effective ways to get rid of ants and insects. However, if children or animals occupy the home, I let my adult tenants decide what, if anything, is sprayed, so they can give informed consent and accept the risk and liability.

  1. Exterior Chemicals
    Spraying a product like Home Defense around the exterior foundation of the home is extremely helpful.
  2. Interior Chemicals
    Spraying the interior floorboards and entry points as well usually completes the job.
photo credit: looseends via cc
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