What Landlords Need to Know about Bed Bugs
Any landlord for an apartment or other facility is likely to have to deal with bed bugs at some point. Here are some tips and resources for you to get ready or to take action if you already have bed bug issues.
On this page:
- Find out what laws or regulations apply to your location. There could be reporting requirements, response requirements, etc.
- Educate yourself and train your staff on how to identify bed bugs and inspect for their presence.
- Make a plan for preventing bed bugs. Include steps such as:
- Conducting detailed inspections when tenants depart.
- Providing guidelines for tenants on preventing bed bugs.
- Instructing staff and tenants on what to do if they find them.
- Educate tenants before there is a problem:
- Provide a flyer or brochure to current and prospective tenants explaining your policies and guidance on bed bug management. Examples can be found in the EPA's Bed Bug Information Clearinghouse.
- Emphasize the importance of quick reporting of any bed bug sightings.
- Don't blame the tenant for the problem, since often there is no fault involved.
- A culture of blame can cause residents to delay reporting (which leads to more extensive infestations, which are far more expensive to control).
- Hire professionals who have documented experience in bed bug management and who use a comprehensive strategy (not just spraying pesticides).
- Develop a plan, in advance, for treating a bed bug infestation. Your plan should:
- Be multi-faceted and use integrated pest management techniques.
- Make residents aware of basic prevention and management techniques.
- Encourage residents to prepare for treatment.
- Include physical means of removal, such as careful vacuuming of the affected area (and disposing of the vacuum bag to an outside disposal area).
- Bringing in a qualified pest management professional to assist.
- See the resources listed below for assistance in developing your plans for preventing and managing bed bugs.
- Inspect promptly when bed bugs are reported.
- Involve residents in the process. Their cooperation is vital to success.
- Evaluate adjacent units for possible infestations.
- Some researchers recommend treating all adjacent units (both sides, above and below) to improve odds of successful control.
- Encourage and help residents to prepare for control. Good preparation will increase the odds of success (and lower costs of treatment).
- Implement your action plan for bed bug management.
- Actively monitor treated units to ensure that all of the bed bugs have been killed.
Additional Resources for Landlords
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- Bed Bug Action Plans for Apartments (PDF) (Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services) (4 pp, 286.01 K About PDF))
- Bed Bug Control in Multi-Unit Facilities (PDF) (Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services) (33 pp, 1.2 M)
- What's Working for Bed Bug Control in Multifamily Housing (PDF) (National Center for Healthy Housing) (43 pp, 601.57 K)
- Protocols for the Prevention and Control of Bed Bugs in Multi-Unit Housing (PDF) (Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Services) (16 pp, 456.98 K)
- Frequently Asked Questions about Bed Bugs (PDF) (Massachusetts Department of Public Health) (2 pp, 70.74 K)
- Don't let the bed bugs bite (Michigan Bed Bug Working Group; available in several languages
- Information from HUD related to bed bugs:
- NPMA Guidelines: Response to Bed Bugs in Apartments (PDF) (2 pp, 363.75 K)
Handouts for Your Tenants
- Bed Bug Prevention, Detection and Control
- Simple Ways to Avoid Bed Bugs During Moving and Storage (PDF) (New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene)(1 pp, 28.03) Exit
- Got Bed Bugs? (Penn State Extension) Exit