On Thursday, April 25, the Kent County Board of Commissioners approved funding for two staff positions to investigate homes that are lead-poisoning children. Landlords who fail to act to be held accountable.
In Case of Emergency
Although pests like mice and cockroaches do not pose an immediate health threat, they can result in adverse health effects for people with asthma and breathing problems. Call the Healthy Homes Coalition for more information on Integrated Pest Management.
Integrated Pest Management
Protect Your Investment
Pests like roaches and mice are not only hazardous to resident health, they also bring down property values, contribute to higher turnover rates and make an apartment less attractive to prospective tenants.
Even when a resident leaves, the pests remain. Regardless of how the pests got in, eliminating the infestation requires effort from both the landlord and tenant. Landlords have obligations under the law to make sure that properties are pest free at rent-up and that common spaces are kept pest free.
There’s no such thing as a minor infestation. One roach can quickly turn into thousands, and a pair of mice can quickly turn into dozens. The longer there is an infestation, the harder it is to abate.
The best pest management strategy involves the tenant, property manager, and the landlord working together. Using integrated pest management (IPM) has proven to be more cost effective than other strategies. IPM uses a holistic, multi-faceted approach that assesses not only the extent of the pest problem, but the home environment and family habits as well.
IPM starts with removing the sources of food, water and harborage that make the home an attractive place for pests to live. Of course cleaning up food and removing trash is a tenant's responsibility. But as the landlord, your help is needed in fixing leaks, providing trash containers as required by local housing codes, having trash removed from the property, caulking and sealing cracks and openings in the building, and other changes that lead to a dry, clean home.
Only after sources of food, water and harborage have been addressed should pesticides be considered. Traps, bait stations (where the poison is safely contained from children and pest) and insect growth regulators have proven to have the most lasting effects. Pesticides like sprays, foggers, and bombs can be harmful to human health and are not as effective in eliminating the pest problem. Supplies for doing your own pest work can be affordable and easily purchased.
These solutions work well for mice, cockroaches, and rats, but bedbugs are another story. Bedbugs are resilient to pesticides and the best way to ensure complete elimination is with professional help. Do-it-yourself remedies rarely work and often put people at risk. Since bedbugs can live for up to a year without a meal, bedbugs will remain in the unit long after a problem tenant leaves. As a result, ignoring bedbugs only gives the problem time to get worse and more costly to correct. The best solution is to take action immediately with professional help.
Landlords and tenants need to work together to solve pest problems. Healthy Homes can assist by working with the family and their children, and is happy to consult with landlords on IPM strategies and solutions.
For Landlords: Obligations
Effective pest management can only be achieved with collaboration between landlords and tenants. Under the International Property Maintenance Code (IPMC), landlords have responsibility to remove an infestation from the property before it is occupied. Tenants have the responsibility to prevent re-infestation. Landlords can protect their property investment by taking proactive steps and preventing pest infestations by addressing any structural issues that may contribute to the problem.
HUD provides 10 key steps for landlords to deal with pests on their properties in its Guidance for Integrated Pest Management.
See the Resources to the right for more information on the IPMC or HUD guidance.
For Landlords: Resources and Training
The Healthy Homes Coalition also offers trainings for landlords to address and prevent pest infestations on their properties. These trainings are often offered in conjunction with the Rental Property Owner’s Association. For more information about these trainings, please contact the Healthy Homes Coalition or see our Events Page.
Did You Know...
Sprays and foggers only kill 5% of pest populations and leave poisonous chemicals around the home.
Little Louian's recently renovated home was in good condition, yet there were still things about the home environment that triggered Louian's asthma. Things had gotten so out of control that Louian ended up in the emergency room four times in a year. Healthy Homes provided Louian's mom with the knowledge, skills, and tools she needed to take action.
But this is just one of many families in need of support. Asthma attacks are the leading reason kids are going to Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital’s emergency room. We need to do more to keep children like Louian from hurting, and we can with your help.
In November of 2018, the World Health Organization stepped firmly into the healthy housing world when it released its WHO Housing and Health Guidelines. While local conditions are different all over the world, the strategies WHO suggests are universal and certainly apply to Grand Rapids.