Tenant asking for bug treatment

73 Replies

@Chris Lohmeier Wow, that is a good price. I would have paid that no problem. That was Orkin in Toledo. Obviously, I need to shop around a bit more if I end up going that route.

@Michael Temple I'd personally just pay to have it done. Eventually it will become your problem as the homeowner if there truly is an issue at the house. 

However, you could also offer to split the cost with them. 

I think it's reasonable in many instances to offer to split items such as these with tenants. If it's truly important to them then they will pony up for half. And you've offered to meet them halfway so you shouldn't have a fallout from the relationship going forward.

For all of my student rentals we use an "opt-in" or "opt-out" pest control clause. We charge an additional fee to have the property sprayed monthly and they have the option to accept or decline before moving in. It's a great management tool for these situations. We often take care of these pest issues (rodents, spraying, etc) anyway because I want to keep up with the properties but it provides an option for me if I don't think their request is reasonable. 

Originally posted by @Michael Temple :

Since I am going to put my own treatments down first, does anyone have any suggestions of stuff they have used and like and is not super lethal crap since they have small children in the house. Again, my pests according to them are spiders and "bugs" not sure what the "bugs" are, but I am guessing ants, stink bugs, etc. general annoying pests.

I've had good results with Martin's Viper.  It's a concentrate, so you will need a pump-up garden sprayer.   

@Will Gaston that is also a really good idea about asking tenants to opt-in or out of monthly spraying and charge extra for it if they opt-in. Unfortunately, It looks like most of these are ideas for next time so this time it appears I am just going to eat the cost.

You definitely want that pest control clause...if a tenant ever gets bedbugs you do NOT want that hefty price tag for getting rid of them.

That said,  I live outside of Chicago and the years like this when we get winter into summer without really any spring...the bugs DO seem to turn up overnight.  So she probably is irritated that you say they weren't there then.  They weren't,  but they are now!  

I am married to a chemical engineer and he absolutely says the stuff Home Depot or Ace hardware recommends is as good as what Orkin is going to spray.  Just read your labels for safety.

Personally I think fastidious tenants who pay a high rent are worth a little extra hassle.

I would do nothing until I inspected the property myself. If your tenant is over reacting to a few bugs it is over kill to spray. The advice would be to have her take care of the issue the same as any home owner dealing with a few bugs in the spring.

You need to inspect for yourself. Never ever take any action based on a tenants comments. Tenants are supremely unreliable.

The pros use pyrethroids,  and you can find products with that.  My husband is a cancer survivor and he preferred to use something called Orange Guard as he thought it was safer.  But once every 3 years or so we get invaded by ants so badly and the OG doesn't work,  then I get the professional spray for under $200 (Use a local guy, much cheaper than Orkin or Terminix).  My H doesn't want to personally touch that stuff.  He sprayed weeds for the county during high school (herbicide not pesticide) and there are some statistical links between that and testicular cancer.  (think of how the guy holds the sprayer...up near the crotch).  Anyway,  because of all that,  he will allow the pro in once in a while but not touch it himself.  But he thinks the stuff you can buy is as effective as what the pros use.

I can't speak for Toledo, but here in Houston, there's no way you're not going to see the occasional bug in the house. That's the price we pay for living in a tropical paradise. The bugs lurk outside the door and as soon as the door is opened they fly in, especially at night.

@Michael Temple

I don't know if they carry it where you are located or not, but "Seven" works very well.  I do not know about how safe it is for children, so do your own homework, but I know it works very well.

With that being said, first thing you need to understand is you are dealing with a female.  Females do not like spiders.  The reason for this is because Females understand that spiders communicate.  Not only do they know you are trying to kill them, so they run like little Tasmanian devils, but they also notify all their relatives who will come watch you at night while you are sleeping.  If you happen to knock one to the floor, they play dead until you are asleep at night, and then they come back and notify their friends.  Before you know it, they are making cocoons in the corners of your ceilings, preparing their fortress for the takeover that is going to happen the minute you close your eyes to sleep.  The only 100% cure for a spider in most female minds is a flame thrower, and that may cause you fines if you have your smoke detectors in the wrong locations.

Therefore, do not take your tenants lightly if they have a fear of spiders, just remember the spiders are there because bugs are presents, such as ants.  Ants can be quite destructive, particularly if they are carpenter ants or winged ants such as termites.  

Consider your tenant's complaint as a good alarm mechanism that your house could sustain structural or fire damage that a little bag from Home Depot or Lowe's could have prevented.  

Treat your tenants how you would want to be treated and you can usually get along very well and take of their concerns pretty cheaply.  What you may conceive as tedious and unimportant may be very important to your tenant.

Lisa

Originally posted by @Lisa Kovac :

@Michael Temple

With that being said, first thing you need to understand is you are dealing with a female.  Females do not like spiders.  The reason for this is because Females understand that spiders communicate.  Not only do they know you are trying to kill them, so they run like little Tasmanian devils, but they also notify all their relatives who will come watch you at night while you are sleeping.  If you happen to knock one to the floor, they play dead until you are asleep at night, and then they come back and notify their friends.  Before you know it, they are making cocoons in the corners of your ceilings, preparing their fortress for the takeover that is going to happen the minute you close your eyes to sleep.  The only 100% cure for a spider in most female minds is a flame thrower, and that may cause you fines if you have your smoke detectors in the wrong locations.

Therefore, do not take your tenants lightly if they have a fear of spiders, just remember the spiders are there because bugs are presents, such as ants.  Ants can be quite destructive, particularly if they are carpenter ants or winged ants such as termites.  

Consider your tenant's complaint as a good alarm mechanism that your house could sustain structural or fire damage that a little bag from Home Depot or Lowe's could have prevented.  

Treat your tenants how you would want to be treated and you can usually get along very well and take of their concerns pretty cheaply.  What you may conceive as tedious and unimportant may be very important to your tenant.

Lisa

 ahahHAHAHAHA!!!  

Although that is a gender stereotype, it seems to be true!  My experience has been that most women are absolutely unnerved by the mere sight of a spider. Males don't particularly like spiders, but are usually not terrified of them. At home, I get "the yell" about once of month to "COME KILL THIS SPIDER!!!"  So in comes dad with a tissue paper to capture the offending arachnid. The daughters stand by at a safe distance as the grab is made.  Before flushing it down the toilet, I will sometimes hold the wad of tissue up and say, "does anyone want to see the ...." and before the sentence is finished there are screaming girls running from the scene!

For single family detached homes, I provide a pest perimeter spray and a  Terro Ant Killer.  It eliminates most pest calls.  If they want pet-safe or child-safe, they can purchase them on their own.  I forgot to provide it at my last turnover, and as soon as it warmed up, they were calling about ants.  If they want a pet-safe or child-safe one, they can find them online.   Home Depot/Lowes used to carry pet-safe perimeter bug sprays that I thought worked well, but I can't find them anymore.  The cheapest Terro Ant Killer, the liquid you place in the ant trail, works extremely well but takes 2-3 weeks.  

It a pretty common request.  We stick to the policy and the lease that we treat them within the first 30 days and anything after that we assume you were the one that brought them in.

I’m new here so don’t shoot me if my comment is off base...

Is there any reason why you can’t go to Hone Depot, get a bottle of Ortho Home Defense and spray the house? That’s $7.98 and about a half hour of your time, vs your high estimates. Home Defense kills just about every household bug.

"Is there any reason why you can’t go to Hone Depot, get a bottle of Ortho Home Defense and spray the house?"

No harm in suggesting your tenant do that for themselves. Most tenants are generally ill equipped to deal with normal home issues but suggesting your tenant resolve a minor bug issue themselves is not beyond normal. Best way to deal with spiders is a vaccume cleaner.

I send an exterminator for many bugs.  But for spiders, killing their webs is the most effective method.  For ants, just  give them a few bottles of RAID or other ant treatment.  

When I have a tenant move out, I spray the inside of the house. I use a gallon spray bottle and a pesticide from Lowes ( about $12.00 for concentrate, good for about 3 houses). I let the new tenant know the house has been sprayed (makes them happy and I look good). I put in the lease that the house will be treated before they move in and any other issues are on them. Thanks to some posts on here, I will be adding a bed bug clause. Never had an issue but don't want to have on after the fact.

I also replaced any wood burning fireplace with a gas log type. They look better and I don't have issues with wood near the house. 

If I were a tenant and my landlord asked me why I didn’t tell them about the problem a week ago when he was there i would have an attitude as well

@Michael Temple ,

We had a similar call last year,   so we just went to home Depot and got the exterior spray (large bottle), sprayed the heck out of the perimeter and up top where spiders/bugs might live, and also left them a small bottle of the same spray to use at their discretion.    Giving them the bottle (yes, they could have just gone to Lowes and got it themselves)  after you do an extensive spray, shows you care and listened to their concern, but also passes the wand to them to be proactive if they need more.  

We also did a walk through of the house and caulked any where the bugs might be entering.     Total cost was around $20, and they never said anything after that.     I'd suggest seeing if you handle the problem yourself for cheap before calling in a company ($$$$$). 

@Michael Plante - Question, why? I didn't think it was an unreasonable request that since I was there only a week earlier and specifically asked them if they had any issues with bugs, more specifically ants as that sometimes crops up in the spring at this house. Absolutely no issues. One week later they claim an infestation and want me to bring in a spraying service which isn't cheap. I guess I am off base here, but that didn't seem like an insane question to me.

Another suggestion.....have a policy for tenants to notify you of problems in writing, unless it is an emergency. This can help avoid getting text messages or calls for every little thing that may occur to them.

@Linda D. That was going to be my approach as well. The first thing I did was ask them to move the old firewood that was stacked up in the garage. I think that is a decent part of the problem since that particular wood is very old. I told them once that was done I would come over and put a perimeter spray down and I will probably put something around the windows and doors as well, possibly do the interior baseboards. I plan to leave them the bottle as you and others have suggested to see if the issue cures itself after that.

It sounds like they are good tenants in a nice house and pay high rent. Why wouldn’t you want to A) Keep your house free of pests; and B) Keep these tenants happy?

I just had the same problem at my duplex. Terminix online appt will give you $50 off. I paid $175 to get both sides of duplex done. A small price to pay to keep good tenants and to keep my property clean.

Right about now in central Ohio we are seeing some black ants, which I usually fix by putting some blobs of Combat Max Gel Ant Bait, or something like that, at the access points where their ant trails enter the house.  They love it and it and take it back to the nest and they all die.

We're also seeing a lot of June bugs (early this year) which can get in the house as they are attracted to light at night, so opening a door or window can let them in.  And some lady bugs and aphids are out.

All that said, I would do what has been suggested.  Buy a "universal" insect treatment jug from home depot with a sprayer, and spray the perimeter of the house.  Extra around doors and windows.  That will probably help a lot.  You should have some left to leave in the garage for the tenant as a courtesy.

But the tenant is never going to get rid of bugs and spiders completely.  They are a part of life.

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