Rentonomics
|
Rental Management

How to Handle a Rat Infestation in Your Community

By: Susan Finch
February 21, 2020

No landlord or property manager wants to hear the words rat infestation. When it comes to rats and other rodents making themselves at home on one of your properties, it’s essential to act quickly. You must take steps to proactively avoid a pest or rat infestation. 

Not only are rats unhygienic, but they can also severely impact your ability to rent out your property. Rat infestations can cause high tenant turnover, health concerns, and give you a bad reputation. The good news is, you can avoid all this if you deal with the problem swiftly and effectively. 

Here’s everything you need to know about how to deal with a rat infestation on your rental property.

Dangers of a Rat Infestation

Infestations aren’t just bothersome, they can also present dangers to both tenants and landlords alike. It’s important to understand the dangers that rats pose. That way, you can act quickly before they can become a major problem. 

Here are some things to know about the dangers of rat infestations:

  • Rats Can Cause Damage to Your Property. Rats will chew their way onto your property and make their nests in your walls or attics. They can cause damage to your walls, electrical, plumbing, and even your roof. 
  • Rats are a Health Hazard. Besides getting into food and leaving their droppings around, rats pose a significant health hazard as disease carriers. Hantavirus, Lassa Fever, and Hemorrhagic Fever are just a few diseases that are directly transmitted from rats.
  • Rats Breed Quickly. Seriously quickly. Brown rats, one of the most common rats, can have up to five litters annually. A litter of rats can reach up to 14 and their pregnancy lasts only 21 days. As a result, your rat problem can grow exponentially in a short time if you don’t deal with it quickly.

Where You Might Find a Rat Infestation

Rats don’t like to be seen. Not to mention, their tendency to make their nests in the unseen places of your property can make them hard to find. 

However, you can stop an infestation by catching it early on. Understanding rat behavior can help you determine the best places to search for them.

Rats have very strong teeth. They are especially skilled when it comes to chewing their way through your property’s defenses. Rats will chew and squeeze their way inside and make their home in places that are hard to reach. 

Here’s where you might find rats on your property:

  • Walls
  • Attics
  • Pipes
  • Crawl Spaces
  • Dryer Vents
  • Laundry Areas
  • Inside Furniture
  • Kitchen Areas
  • Small Holes Throughout the Property

Warning Signs of a Rat Infestation

Both you and your tenants should be on the lookout for any warning signs of a pest problem. Landlords or property managers should be performing routine maintenance inspections regularly. However, tenants also need to be well-informed about the signs of a pest infestation.

If your tenants are keeping an eye out for unwanted visitors, they’ll be able to alert you to a problem early on. That can help to prevent significant damage. 

Provide tenants with resources on the subject. The resources should include a detailed list of warning signs of rat infestation. Here are some of the signs to mention:

  • New Holes in Walls and Furniture
  • Gnawed Wires or Structural Wood
  • Nests or Piled Nesting in Hidden Areas
  • Small Brown Droppings (rat poop — yuck!)
  • Pets on Alert or Restless
  • Noises (squeaking, movement, or chirping)
  • Sightings (if you see one, assume there are many more)

How to Get Rid of a Rat Infestation

After learning of a pest infestation, your first call should be to a professional rodent control expert. This is true regardless of your experience as a landlord or property manager. Avoid taking the DIY route with a mousetrap or cat. They won’t do the job for an infestation.

The most you can do to help get rid of a rat infestation is to cut off their food source. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to know exactly what the rats are eating to keep themselves alive. However, you can bet it’ll likely be found in the kitchen. 

Rats will sometimes leave “droppings” that indicate they’ve been there. If you find any droppings, clean them up and disinfect the area. Then, make sure any food containers are securely closed. 

A rodent control expert will have both the tools and knowledge to deal with the infestation. They’ll also provide advice regarding preventative measures to take. They’ll let you know about the cause of the infestation and the extent of it. 

Home Sealing

Sometimes a rodent infestation isn’t just centered on your property. They may be prevalent throughout the community. 

If this is the case, a pest control professional will inform you of that. They can help you understand how to deal with it. They may also recommend having your community sealed. 

Home sealing is one of the most effective ways to protect your home against pests. By sealing all possible entry points for pests (including insects), this method prevents rats from making their way into your home. 

While you can perform a home seal alone, it’s best to consult the professionals. That’s because it’s easy to miss an entry point. 

Mice can get in through holes that are the size of a dime. They’ll also invite their friends. A home sealing technician will check the perimeter of your home including the roof. 

Final Thoughts

Pest infestations can be the cause of conflict between landlords and tenants, especially when it comes to pointing the finger of blame. 

As a property manager or landlord, it’s important to remember that regardless of what caused the rat infestation, it’s vital that you handle it. Not only will this help you avoid lasting damage, but it will also guarantee that you gain a reputation as being responsive and quick-acting.

If a tenant’s poor hygiene or unsanitary living conditions caused the infestation, you’ll want to avoid renewing their lease agreement. Depending on your lease terms and state laws, you may be able to evict a tenant if you can prove that they are responsible for causing a major pest infestation. 

Being proactive with pest control and immediately scheduling professional exterminators are the best ways to deal with pest infestations. Happy renting!

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