Which Pest Control Strategy?
Property Managers are accountable for spending the property development funds wisely, trying to coordinate a number of necessary services such as refuse collection, lift maintenance, or landscaping.
When it comes to pest control the options are to either adopt a reactive strategy, i.e. hiring a vermin extermination service when pests show up; or else have a proactive approach, which consists of putting in place a pest prevention programme in order to identify and control conditions which are conducive to pest infestations.
Advantages of Establishing Pest Prevention Contracts
1. Avoid settled activity
Residents occasionally notice rodents passing through their development and coming from roads, rivers, fields or adjacent properties. With the help of continual and regularly attended Rodent Bait Stations, rodents will not settle on the property, i.e. no burrows or nests.
The reason for this is that after a few hours or days wandering around the Property, rodents will feed on the palatable food (rodenticide) or spring traps in the bait stations.
Frequently Pest Controllers installing new maintenance contracts notice rat burrows under slabs, concrete, decking, in bin shed walls… These were only allowed to happen over a period of time because no control measure existed originally.
2. Avoid problems developing to crisis point
With their professional training, qualified Pest Controllers will identify signs of rodent activity before the residents notice them, and they will action some corrective measures.
For instance, an apparently insignificant little hole in the grass beside a sewer shore will in fact most likely be the indication of a break inside the manhole giving ground access to sewer rats (see picture).
Failure to identify these signs may lead to sudden major infestations and costly damages from rodents.
3. Liability – Property Manager Demonstrate “Due Dilligence”
When Rodent Bait Stations are set permanently and when residents see Pest Control technicians on-site on a regular basis, they feel reassured that the development is under a good proactive management regime.
During resident committee’s meetings, Property Managers can bring along the Pest Control folder, showing the computerised map showing the position of Bait Points and detailed action reports, dates and summary of visits, as well as proofing/housekeeping recommendations.
Should any kind of pest infestation or contamination arise in common or private areas for any reason, the Property Manager could be under scrutiny if no preventative Pest Control contract is in place prior to the infestation.
Moreover, there is always a risk for residents to contract illnesses from rodents such as Weil’s Disease when opening wheelie bin lids with their hands. In a litigation situation, the property manager could be found negligent if no pest prevention measures are in place prior to the incident.
4. Contracts are more cost effective than callouts
Pest technicians schedule Routine inspections with other work in the same area and this considerably reduces transport costs. Most contracts include a number of “free emergency callouts” so if something goes wrong between two routine inspections, there will be no extra costs to rectify the issue.
Ultimately, it is up to the Property Manager to decide where a Pest Control contract is preferable to reactive call-outs, but it is usually the most affordable Service for any Property. Moreover, residents will feel reassured if they see evidence that a pest control system is in place and maintained regularly.
Case Study: What Happens Without Pest Prevention?
A pretty yard in common areas
Many problems start without any apparent reason: a resident gives a phone call to the property manager and reports a rat sighting somewhere in the common areas. In the pictured case we see a small garden surrounded by walls and a few shrubs along these walls. Residents only use a few wheelie bins and one could hardly imagine such a tidy little place to be attractive to rodents.
…Not so pretty on clode inspection
Nevertheless, the Pest Control inspection revealed a large and long-established Norway rat infestation with over 15 burrows in the bushes. Rats had easily obtained access to the walled garden walking under the service metal doors (to bring the bins out on the street for collection).
Once established they were discreetly feeding on the bins bags in the wheelie bins, getting access from underneath, through the water drain hole that most wheelie bins have. Moreover, wheelie bins overfill from time to time for various reasons (e.g. late collection). This gives rodents much easier access to food.
Some of the shrubs had died as a result of intense rat burrowing activity. Rodents can transmit diseases they carry on their feet, through droppings and urine, and by fleas and ticks living on their bodies. Any surface touched by a rodent may become contaminated (leptospirosis) and children playing in the yard were also at high risk of health hazards.
It took a number of expensive callouts to eradicate all the rats, remove the dead carcasses, block the burrows, and to prevent future infestations. Landscapers also had to replace some of the shrubs.
If a Pest Control maintenance contract was in place from the start, a qualified Pest Control technician could identify rodent access and potential nesting areas. He would also advise on best practice, like trimming shrubs more regularly and securing refuse bins. With a contract in place, any rat attracted to the garden would have first been drawn to the carefully positioned Rodent Bait Stations and died before digging burrows.
Finally, some residents may be very reluctant to pay their management fees if there is no Professional Pest Prevention Contract in place and they suffer the consequences of mice or rat infestation.