How to talk about bed bugs with your tenants

Eric Braun

Property managers have a shared goal to ensure that buildings under their care operate smoothly and that the property preserves or increases its value. A profitable property is one that offers a competitive rent, while keeping tenant turnover low and vacant spaces to a minimum. In other words, a property that provides the best cost-benefit and tenant experience. However, there are few things that can have as detrimental an impact on business as a pest infestation.

how to talk about bed bugs with your tenants

Pest infestations can lead to lease terminations, rent reductions, lawsuits, damage to structures, and a bad reputation, to name a few. Amongst all pests that could present a threat to a multifamily housing, commercial, or office property, there is one pest that is often unforeseen: bed bugs.

People often think of bed bugs as a problem exclusive to hotels and homes. But in fact, bed bugs are notorious hitchhikers and are difficult to keep out of any structure. They can easily find their way into buildings on people’s personal belongings.

So, what should property managers do when challenged by the presence of bed bugs in one of their spaces?


Responding to tenant or customer bed bug complaints

There are several things property managers can do to help mitigate bed bug concerns.  One step is to adopt preventive measures to proactively address potential bed bug issues, such as enforcing periodic employee locker cleanouts to find activity sooner and inspecting any items coming into your facility for bed bugs. Another is to follow a few established best practices when talking about bed bugs with tenants. Taking all complaints seriously and using discretion when dealing with an infestation will help to keep businesses and customers safe from unwanted attention and publicity.

Use these proactive tips to protect your employees, business, and brand reputation.

how to talk about bed bugs with your tenants

What you can do:

  • Confirm that the bed bug activity actually does exist. Many reports are initially misidentified and have turned out to be other insects, so it is important to know how to distinguish a bed bug from other pests. Trained staff, personnel, or preferably, a trusted pest control provider can confirm whether or not bed bugs are present.
  • Retain any insect samples for further review. Use a piece of clear tape or a clear, sealable plastic bag to collect and consult a professional for positive identification.
  • Offer the tenant a temporary unit or suite that has been inspected and cleared by a trained professional while the customer’s original space is undergoing treatment. It is recommended that any suspect personal property is quarantined to prevent the infestation from spreading. If necessary, treat the tenant’s personal belongings prior to relocating them to the new space.
  • Train your staff on how to identify, respond, and report bed bug complaints to your pest control provider.
  • Train your staff to perform routine inspections for bed bugs in all units or suites.


What you should not do:

  • Never dispute the claim of bed bugs with the tenant or customer.
  • Do not admit guilt or allow tenants to record any conversations.
  • Do not report past stories of bed bug issues.
  • Never allow conversations to take place where other tenants or customers are present.
  • Avoid re-occupying an infested unit or space until a full inspection, treatment, (and cleaning if needed) has been completed.

Having an action plan prevents panic

It is always best to have an action plan in place prior to experiencing bed bug issues. It is advisable that you work with your best control provider to develop one before it’s too late. Remember that quick action can prevent a major problem. Most bed bug introductions that have not become established infestations can be resolved without significant disruption to your business.

If you believe your business may be experiencing a bed bug infestation, we recommend contacting a reliable pest control partner like Rentokil Steritech who can respond quickly to set up an inspection.

Eric Braun
Eric Braun

Eric Braun is a Technical Services Manager for Rentokil. Since joining the company in 1997, Eric has held a variety of service and operational management roles. In his current role, he holds responsibility for the technical and operational support within the north eastern region of North America.Eric has a Bachelor of Science in Entomology from the University of Delaware and holds the Board Certified Entomologist credential from the Entomological Society of America. He has his Commercial Pesticide Applicator License in Pennsylvania and is also Sentricon Certified, and GreenPro and QualityPro Certified by the National Pest Management Association. When he’s not immersed in the world of pest control, Eric, his wife, and two small children enjoy being outdoors and exploring U.S. National Parks and have a goal of visiting all 58 parks.

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