pests at multifamily properties, apartment

Areas to watch for pests at multifamily properties

Julianne Bisognini

A multifamily facility is a complex environment to manage. It must adhere to local legislation and requirements, ensure brand consistency, and manage a large base of residents. Buildings such as these need to meet a variety of habits, lifestyles, and demands.

Multifamily management companies are continually working to determine “what’s next” in amenities trends and bring on-site conveniences that residents seek out, from fitness centers and movie rooms to self-serve coffee stations and pet care. Although these features help to attract and retain residents, their addition also means that facility managers have more areas to maintain and watch for risks. And that includes taking into account pest control and the role that it may play. New areas offer new opportunities for pests to hide, find food, and breed.

With that in mind, Rentokil Steritech has listed the most common and the lesser known areas in a multifamily facility where pests may be found. With this list, you can better prepare your staff and your residents to watch for pests.

Areas in multifamily often overlooked for pests

  • Self-serve coffee stations: Residents are not the only ones to seek for free coffee at your apartment complex. Fruit flies can be attracted by fermented items commonly found on brewing machines and facilities.
  • Game and movie rooms: Pests such as cockroaches, fruit flies, and rodents may be attracted by the food and beverages that your residents leave behind. Bed bugs will seek hiding places on furniture; they can also hitchhike on people’s belongings and make their way inside residents’ units without being noticed.
  • Lounge areas and rooftops: A growing trend in multifamily buildings, green lounge areas and rooftop gardens provide an aesthetic appeal for residents. They also offer plenty of opportunities for pest activity. Some pests you want to make sure to watch out for on those areas include rodents, birds, ants, cockroaches, stinging insects, and spiders.
  • Fitness rooms: Water sources, moisture, and the presence of fitness equipment create an ideal environment for pests such as cockroaches, spiders, and rodents to hide and feed.
  • Pet washing areas and pet care: In addition to the risk of flea activity on a shared pet washing station or pet care, other pests such as flies, cockroaches, and rodents can also make their way inside. Food and water sources and a harborage opportunity attract these pests to such areas.

animal groomer at multifamily property

  • Playground and recreational areas: Often situated outdoors, the playground or recreational area receives many different visitors, from adults with kids, to pet owners with their loyal friends. People can also leave behind items here – food debris, spills, pet droppings, and more that can attract pests. These areas may attract stinging pests, mosquitoes, flies, ants, cockroaches, and also fleas.
  • Mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems: Areas with no traffic can be equally susceptible to developing pest problems, providing protected spaces for them to quietly harbor and breed. Rodents, birds, insects, and even wildlife have been found in dryer vents, HVAC systems, and electric and plumbing storage houses.


Common areas in multifamily to continually monitor for pests

  • Inside apartment units: Shared walls and ceilings make it easy for pests to spread to adjacent units. Some of the common pests often found as a problem in multiple units include bed bugs, cockroaches, spiders, and ants.
  • Balconies: Balconies are also a common place for pests to get what they need. It’s common to see spiders on their webs, and depending on the structure, birds can build nests, as well as wasps and hornets. Potted plants, water, food, and people sitting outside will attract ants and mosquitoes.
  • Hallways and breezeways: Crawling pests can hide in the edges of hallways and in the tiniest of cracks and crevices before entering into living spaces uninvited. Pests can also enter apartment units through dryer vents or other access points that may be present in these areas.
  • Grill and pool areas: Rodents, flies, cockroaches, ants, and birds, can be attracted to these areas by the presence of food and moisture. More than an annoyance, these pests can contaminate food and ruin your resident experience. Other pests will even present a risk to your residents’ health, as stinging pests can inflict painful and even dangerous stings.

pool multifamily property

  • Landscaping areas: Landscaping can inadvertently contribute to pest problems. Crawling pests, such as ants, may be able to reach the walls and entrances from a landscaped area that’s too close to the building or not well-maintained.
  • Parking lots and loading docks: Harborage and food debris are the potential pest attractants to these areas. Rodents have been reported hiding inside vehicles, increasing the risk of transporting them from one place to another without noticing. Birds can also congregate in parking garages, leaving behind unattractive messes. Bird droppings on cars can cause corrosion. More importantly, bird feathers and droppings can be loaded with pathogens that are dangerous to people.
  • Dumpster areas: The presence of residues and odors build up the feeding and breeding grounds for flies, cockroaches, and rodents. Birds can also become problematic in these areas. Dependent upon their proximity to residences, birds can congregate or roost on balconies or rooftops of other buildings. Here, they can be nuisances or potentially even clog HVAC systems.

What you can do to prevent pests in these areas

  • Establish an after-use guide for common areas. The guide should instruct how to properly discard food debris and other organic residues that may attract pests.
  • Ensure that residents know how to report pests concerns to the office.
  • For indoor areas, adjust the temperature of the room accordingly to reduce excessive moisture.
  • Instruct your maintenance and cleaning staff to regularly inspect these areas and equipment looking for signs of pest activity.
  • Make sure that there are no structural gaps that may serve as entry points. Seal and close any holes, cracks, crevices, and openings with pest-proof material. Also, check with your pest management provider to identify where pest deterrents can be installed for additional protection.

courtyard multifamily property

  • Educate your residents on how to inspect their pets for fleas. Doing so before and after using areas like pet washing stations and playgrounds will reduce the opportunity for flea infestations.
  • Instruct residents on how to inspect for bed bugs on their belongings and units. Also, inform them about how bed bug introduction and how to report bed bug activity to your team. Lastly, provide your team with some guidance on how to handle bed bug complaints with tenants and customers.
  • Stinging pests, crawling insects, and birds represent a threat to the health and wellness of your residents and visitors. For outdoor areas, partner with your pest management provider to put in place a personalized plan to keep pests away.
  • Learn the pest seasonality that affects multifamily properties year-round to help you to monitor your facility, allocate appropriate resources, and direct maintenance and landscaping staff to further deter pest issues.


Proactive pest management strategies can help you mitigate, eliminate, or address pest issues. Work with your pest management provider to develop a strategy to protect the health and safety of your residents.

Need help? Rentokil Steritech’s experts can help you design a comprehensive pest management strategy, customized for your property’s unique needs. For a free inspection or to augment your existing program, call 800.488.9495 or visit

Julianne Bisognini
Julianne Bisognini

As the Segment Marketing Manager at Rentokil North America, Julianne got the perfect role for an innate organized person: connecting tons of industry information with the business strategy, and understanding how the company can better serve the community. If you can't find her at home during the weekends, that's because she is probably outdoors, enjoying the nature and the blue sky of North Carolina.

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