Bed bug infestations in multiunit buildings have proved to be the most difficult to manage. The actions of all the building residents, the management and pest control professions all affect the bed bug problem. Failure of one person may doom attempts to eradicate bed bugs and maintain bed bug-free living. I discussed some of the legal issues when tenants and management disagree over responsibility for eradicating bed bugs. If a dispute goes to court, weeks or months may pass with none of the steps needed to address the bed bug infestation accomplished. An adversarial relationship is counterproductive.
Bennett and colleagues* recommend a cooperative structure with well defined roles for administrators, residents and pest managers. They recommend that the administrators 1) have a plan, 2) communicate and educate the residents about their responsibilities, 3) have one person trained to inspect and identify bed bugs, 4) have an inspection for bed bugs when residents move in and 5) contract with a reputable pest management profession to provide timely and effective bed bug control.
Residents need to cooperate by 1) reporting bed bugs immediately, 2) eliminating clutter that can harbor bed bugs and impede inspections, 3) not bringing items into the unit from bed bug infested locations, 4) inspecting for bed bugs on personal items after visiting bed bug infested locations and 5) fully cooperating with bed bug inspection and eradication efforts.
Pest management professionals need to regularly inspect, treat as necessary, & recommend, suggest and support strategies to prevent bed bugs.
This level of cooperation can be effective at eliminating bed bugs. Unfortunately, cooperation between landlords and all tenants in multiunit buildings is difficult to achieve.
•Gary W Bennett; Ameya D Gondhalekar; Changlu Wang; Grzegorz Buczkowskia & Timothy J Gibb. 2015. Using research and education to implement practical bed bug control programs in multifamily housing. Pest Management Science.