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Tip #134: Home for the Winter

no-pestsWhile it is certainly not the most glamorous job a landlord has, keeping pests out of rental properties is one of the most important ones.

Winter is an open invitation for mice, rats and squirrels–even raccoons, to come inside looking for food and shelter. Not only do these pests bother tenants, but they can spread bacteria, contaminate food, trigger allergies, and chew through cardboard, wood, drywall, and even electrical wiring, increasing the risk of a house fire.

According to weather forecasters, this winter is expected to be unusually stormy and cold, which means it could be a banner year for rodent control. Make pest prevention your priority. The National Pest Management Association offers these tips to protect your tenants and your rental property:

Install screens over chimney vents and openings.

Inspect wires, insulation and walls for any signs of gnaw marks. Seal cracks and holes on the outside of the home, including areas where utilities and pipes enter the home.

Replace loose mortar and weather stripping around basement foundation and windows.

Install gutters or diverts to channel water away from your home.

Store firewood at least 20 feet from the home and five feet off the ground.

Inspect the property over the winter looking for droppings, the tell-tale sign of an infestation.  Pay special attention to the trash bins to make sure they are kept tidy.

Don’t let tenants store items in cardboard boxes.

If you find rodent feces, hear sounds of scurrying in the walls or observe other signs of an infestation, contact a licensed pest professional.

For more information about household pests and to find a local pest professional, visit www.pestworld.org.

See last weeks Landlord Quick Tip.

American Apartment Owners Association offers discounts on products and services for landlords related to your rental housing investment, including rental forms, tenant debt collection, tenant background checks, insurance and financing. Find out more at www.joinaaoa.org.

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