Tenant demanding I bring in pest control for ants

13 Replies

I have a tenant in a ground floor aparment with a minor ant issue. I plan on getting it resolved as soon as I can, but I'm looking for insight into whether the best course of action would be to call in an exterminator now, vs taking care of it myself, which is how I've always gotten it done in the past.

My tenants leaves food for her cat every morning, and has found ants crawling over the cat food for the third time in two weeks. She is DEMANDING that we bring in an exterminator. She gets very emotional with anything regarding her cat.

My regular process for ants is baiting and Tarro, but they haven't taken the bait yet. I believe they are simple sugar ants, but I'm not an expert. My next step would be to get some insect guard around the house. Additionaly, there is some caulking that should be done in the apartment anyway, so I want to try to seal it up better regardless.

I'm hesitant to bring in a professional at this point, but I'm not sure if my pre-disposition against that idea is correct or not. My reasons being:

  • Might take time to get it right, i.e might not be that much more affective than doing it myself
  • Harsh chemicals throughout the yard.
  • cost/time

Is her request for immediate exterminator reasonable?

Doesn't matter how much you caulk it won't stop them, chemicals will wash away, my bug guy charges me 40 bucks for an outside spray...The problem is the food...The cat must not be eating the food right away or is leaving something in the bowl.  Sounds like to me she needs to be educated and feed the cat and clean the bowl versus leaving it out...I have a dog and this happens to me and my home is sprayed monthly...It only happens when we get lazy and don't clean the bowl properly.

Personally,  i would spray, then ask her about what i mentioned above.

Try the Home Defende spray from the big box stores, and spray the exterior perimeter to keep the ants away. 

Repeat as becessary if you find it works initially. 

Treat with Termidor on the outside perimeter.

On the inside, treat with Phantom, around pluming drain and supply protrusions, window sills, behind electrical plates, door thresholds.

Phantom: http://www.amazon.com/Phantom-Termiticide-Insectic...

Termidor: http://www.amazon.com/Termidor-SC-Termiticide-20-o...

This one two punch is very effective.

Address what is attracting the ants, such as the exposed cat food and cleanliness of the environment. Then address where the ants are coming from. Get insecticide into the ant nest to destroy the colony. There are many products that can effectively do this. The ants take the bait and bring it back to their colony. Some products are safe to use around pets and children. 

Also, seal the ant entrances to the domicile and use a good perimeter spray product.

Inform the tenant that effective pest control takes a team effort and that it can take some time to eliminate the problem. Eradication of sugar ants or other kinds of ants does not happen overnight, so encourage the tenant to be patient while you address the issue together.

What does your rental agreement say? Ours states:

"PEST MANANGEMENT.  Tenant agrees to be responsible for maintaining a clean environment to discourage pest infestation and agrees to report to Landlord any signs of pest problems in a timely manner.  Tenant agrees to pay for damages and pest eradication if pest infestation occurs as a result of their action or inaction.  Multi-family buildings:  Landlord will provide services for ongoing pest management.  Single-family houses: Tenant agrees to provide for adequate pest control, including, but not limited to preventing and eliminating destructive insects, rodents, and reptiles found on the premises."

I don't see an easy solution. The problem is the tenant  not keeping things clean. Spray all you want inside or out but I suspect the problem will continue until you get the tenant to make changes. Since this is apartments you may have legal requirements for pest control. Make sure you know your state laws.

Tell your tenant that getting rid of the ants is a partnership job.  You are going to do your job and tell how what you are going to do next  and she has to do her job.

Tell her your plan and just how quicklly you are going to implement it and tell her what her plan must be.  That is feeding the cat and then picking up the food and washing the bowl or using disposable dishes for the cat.  

If she tells you she wants you to use Pest Service tell her you are doing exactly what a professional does and your budget for that house does not support that expense.

All of the above. 

If she tries to flush her blanket down the toilet, are you a bad guy for refusing to pay for the plumber?

You are not being a bad guy if you expect her to do her part.  This reads like an infestation issue due to cleanliness.  She needs to be a grown up and accept that she has skin in this game.  I would also change the language in your lease to keep you from having to contend with this again.  I like the language that Marcia uses.

Don't let her emotional demands get the best of you. Clearly, the cat food is attracting the ants. She needs to change her tactics regarding feeding the cat. She can't expect you to pay money to accommodate her cleanliness style. If the food is cleaned up properly, the ants will disappear.

I'm curious...is it canned food or dry kibble food? 

I have a similar clause like @Marcia Maynard . We once had a tenant in an SFR rowhouse who kept 30 sacks of rice on the kitchen floor, plus cereal in the original cardboard boxes in the bottom cabinets, then complained of mice.

Sugar ants are common in FL, I've seen a few even in upper end hotels and you'll never entirely get rid of them. An infestation is different though, and like others have said, the cat food left out is likely the culprit.

As a local PM our lease reads we will cover pest control for the first month of tenancy and after that month pest control is the responsibility of the tenant. Now that being said if the tenant has been there for a year or more and has been a great tenant we might hire a pest control company to come out and spray one time at our expense but only on a case by case basis. At my house I use Home Defense Max it comes in a one gallon container and it usually last for around a nine months per treatment cheap easy and quick.  

Originally posted by @Aly W.:

I have a similar clause like @Marcia Maynard . We once had a tenant in an SFR rowhouse who kept 30 sacks of rice on the kitchen floor, plus cereal in the original cardboard boxes in the bottom cabinets, then complained of mice.

Sugar ants are common in FL, I've seen a few even in upper end hotels and you'll never entirely get rid of them. An infestation is different though, and like others have said, the cat food left out is likely the culprit.

 I meant 30 pound sacks, not 30 sacks :)

Ants can't swim.  Any shallow pan with a 1/4 inch of water (place food bowl in center of pan) will work to keep them away from food in the pet bowl.  

I have had good results with Optigard ant bait gel.  If you can see where the ants are coming out of the wall or cabinet squirt some bait in the opening so they have to eat it to get out.  

I have one place with an endless ant problem, the last time I turned it over the ants ate an entire bottle of Terro to no effect.  The Optigard made a difference but, unlike every other place I have used it, there are still ants.