Difficulty of treating bed bugs in apartment buildings

When we are contracted to an apartment building to eradicate pests, location is a major factor. Many things must be considered when treating a home/apartment for a pest. A few of those factors would be the location of infestation, severity of infestation, and introduction of infestation to the environment. When treating for bed bugs in an apartment building, there can be more obstacles and concerns involved than your normal one family home and here are a few that we find very often in our day to day treatments.

  1. Building Management. Not to paint with a broad brush, but many landlords and building managers want to get away with effectively doing things as cheap and convenient as possible. This can cause communication problems between tenant and landlord which could delay treatment. When we are alerted of a bed bug problem within a building we would like to inspect all apartments in the surrounding area to be certain of the origin of infestation. Many landlords like to keep quiet about bed bugs and do not want to alert many tenants in fear of complains and rent being withheld. (We want to add that this isnt true with all landlords and management companies, some are actually very good!)
  2. Anti-social tenants. An apartment building will house an eclectic array of tenants. Usually, the less sociable tenants could be a problem. We have found that certain people who may have had a bed bug infestation for a long period time will not allow us in to inspect their apartments. These people are usually in fear of the unknown so they will live with a high level bed bug infestation.They think they may be evicted, or labeled as the “building problem”. This will cause the problem to spread throughout the building and become more of a nuisance to treat. When treating an apartment building for bed bugs, it is important to find the apartment of origin. Due to local NYC laws, it is very difficult to get into an apartment without the proper consent from the tenant and could take some time.
  3. Building politics. A building is very much a community. When hired to treat bed bugs in a building, it throws us into this little community. Some tenants will have attitude, some will offer us coffee. We must look past all of these politics and do the job we were contracted to do without the “he said, she said” blame game. We try to explain to the tenants we are there to be helpful and not to point fingers. This is time for the building to come together and not disband.
  4. Not following instructions. Since everyone in an apartment is a unique little snow flake some like to follow rules while others dont. During a bed bug infestation following exterminators recommendations are key to having a successful treatment. If a few of those problem tenants wave off important instructions this could lead to an unsuccessful treatment, which brings us back to square one.
This post shows that the key is really communication. The best way to spread the word in situations like this is to have a building email list, or hold a meeting with tenants. The tenants have to  understand they must come together in order to have a successful treatment. We just listed only a few problems that we run into when working inside multiple unit dwellings, but if you have any that you would like to add please do so below in our comments section. If you are a pest control professional, or an experienced tenant please let us know if you have any other opinions below.

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