Whether you manage several apartments or several dozen apartments, bed bugs are your top concern when renting out spaces to new tenants. Not only do bed bugs scare residents away and spread a bad rep about your living facility, but they can also push tenants to sue for frightening amounts of money. Nationwide, lawsuits from $11,250 to class action claims for over $1,000,000 have been waged by infested tenants. An apartment inspection checklist can help make sure you don’t end up giving away tens of thousands of dollars (or more) because a tenant wakes up with bed bug bites.
Of course, this can all be prevented. As an apartment manager, you have the ability to thoroughly inspect your apartments and save everyone the grief that inevitably comes along with a full-fledged infestation. All you have to know is where to look.
There are several ways an apartment can become infested: Past tenants may have brought in used furniture that was contaminated by bed bugs; they may have stayed in bed-bug infested hotel rooms; or they may have picked it up from another bed bug infested home. For all you know, you might have inadvertently brought in an egg or female bed bug into an apartment yourself.
In any case, you are responsible for the apartments, and your first move should be an apartment inspection checklist. You can delegate someone who is knowledgeable with bed bugs to help you, if you manage too many apartments to do it all on your own. Detection can be difficult, and it helps to have multiple opinions.
Before you start inspecting, get something to record your findings on – it may be helpful to give this log to a professional later on, if you do manage to spot any signs of an infestation. Next, prepare a flashlight and a magnifying glass; you’ll be looking in tight, dark places that are hard to reach. The signs to look for are eggs, droppings, blood stains, shed skins and live bed bugs.
If there is a bed, check the bed first. Bed bugs like to be close to their host. The seams of the bed, the grooves at the top, any small opening in the mattress and the bed frame are all places bed bugs like to reside in. Remove pillow casings and check the pillow’s piping too. If there is furniture, like sofas, bureaus, or tables, inspect any tight, dark places on them as well. Check under picture frames or anything else hanging on the walls, like clocks and smoke detectors.
There are many places to look even if the apartment is empty. The space under the baseboard and thin openings in wooden floors are potential hiding places for bed bugs. Inspect windowsill corners and any loose wallpaper. Electrical sockets and light switches may be carefully unscrewed or pried open (if you have not done this before, you should ask a professional to do it for you) to check for eggs and bed bugs.
This list should be a starting point. Inspect any potential hiding source and have someone else, preferably a professional, inspect as well. It may be very difficult to do this with every apartment, but potentially spotting signs of an infestation before it gets out of hand and preventing a court case is worth the effort.
Remember, it is very difficult to find bed bugs in an early infestation. Visual inspection has less than a 20% accuracy rate even when done by licensed pest control professionals. Well-trained canines have 90% or greater accuracy. Do not hesitate to call in the big guns if you have any concerns or suspicions after your visual inspection.