Preventing and eliminating pest infestations in a high-rise environment is critical for protecting tenants and property. No one wants to live in a building where there is even a rumor of infestation by roaches, rodents, or other pests. Yet, building management may find it difficult to control individual tenant behavior that exposes the property to infestation.
The goal of any pest management program is to address methods for keeping individual units and the building itself as pest-free as possible. Putting in place an integrated pest management (IPM) process is a secure strategy that will protect a property against infestations. IPM offers a proactive, multi-faceted approach to assessing the areas of a building’s interiors and exteriors in order to prevent pest issues. It’s a plan that takes a comprehensive approach to pest control, eliminating the lures that can attract pests, such as food or food residue, water or harborage sites.
For a high-rise facility, an IPM plan would include:
- Routine inspections by pest management professionals
- Appropriate treatment strategies when infestations are located
- Education of building staff and maintenance on preventative measures
- Opportunities for tenant education on the importance of IPM
Establishing an IPM plan
An initial step in an IPM plan requires the building manager, maintenance personnel, or perhaps even an outside pest control service to first look for evidence of infestation. They are usually found in the most likely places—near dumpsters, anywhere moisture collects inside or outside the building, around light fixtures (inside and outside) or wherever food or food residue can accumulate in tough-to-reach places.
It’s important to seal off any access points into the building, such as cracks in the foundation or walls, venting or sewerage systems, or deteriorating door sweeps. If evidence exists, the first step is to identify the pests accurately – rodents, beetles, flies, etc. The next step is then determining when and how frequently you are finding these specific pests, and in which specific part of the building so as to analyze how they might be entering the building. You will also need to determine the most effective way to eliminate them and manage pest damage via the most economical means, and with the least possible hazard to people, property, and the environment.
Once the IPM plan is in place, administering the plan on a consistent basis is key to control. This means enlisting the support of the maintenance staff as well as tenants. The maintenance staff should be properly trained in how to use appropriate methods to thoroughly and regularly clean areas vulnerable to infestation by pests. Additionally, the common areas of the building such as laundry, trash areas, community kitchens and lobby areas set the tone for the entire building, and must be kept well maintained and absolutely pest free.
Finally, the effects of the IPM plan need to be monitored, reported and recorded. Remember that even if you clear one area of pests, infestation may recur—or evidence of pests may be elsewhere in the building. While there are many avenues to use when it comes to eliminating pests, prevention is the best long-term solution, and that requires continuing effort.
Work with tenants
To gain the cooperation of tenants, notify them of your IPM program, perhaps with a newsletter that includes a general policy for preventing and eliminating infestation of any kind and prevention tips to take within their own units to help prevent pests from entering the building. Assure them that inspections are routine and preventative, and encourage them to report the visual sighting of insects or rodents as soon as possible between inspections.
For example, advise tenants to seal trash bags and dispose of trash promptly and only in properly designated areas. Similarly, caution them to avoid leaving food out in their kitchens or in exterior areas, like patios or recreational spaces. Ask them to let you know if they become aware of areas in the building that can serve as entry points for pests, such as windows or doors left open in public areas, cracks in the foundation, or deteriorating weather stripping.
While an infestation in any type of shared housing facility certainly has a negative impact on owners and managers, unfortunately, it’s the tenants who are most directly affected. With or without an actual infestation, you may find that if you demonstrate to tenants your sincere concern and active efforts to keep your high-rise environment pest free, they will be more than willing to cooperate with you for their own protection.