Having proper pest control in rental properties is extremely important, both for the tenant and the rental property.
This is especially important when it comes to one especially pesky bug: termites.
A termite infestation can be very detrimental to both the health of the rental property and the tenant as well.
In this guide, we will be going over everything there is to know about termites, including how to get rid of them and how to prevent them in the first place.
To begin, let's go over what exactly termites are and why they are dangerous.
A termite is an insect that mainly feeds on wood and frequently becomes a pest in homes. When a home becomes infested with termites, it can become very difficult and time-consuming to get rid of them.
One of the most dangerous aspects of termites is how quickly they reproduce. This means that, in most cases, if you spot a few termites in one spot, there are likely hundreds or thousands of them spread around the home.
However, it may be difficult for a regular tenant to spot a termite problem as termites tend to resemble ants in many ways. Below, we will be outlining some of the ways to differentiate termites from ants and some of the ways to identify the damage on the rental property.
As mentioned before, termites can be easily confused for ants. However, there are a few ways that you can differentiate between ants and termites.
Most termites are going to be yellow or white in color while most ants are darker, like red or black. Also, the head will typically be darker in color than the abdomen and termites always have a set of relatively large pincers - which most ants do not have.
Another way that termites can be identified is by paying attention to how many you see at once. Termites like to live in larger colonies, so they move around in large herds. So, if you see, a larger herd of insects, there's a chance that it could be termites.
The easiest way, however, to know if you have termites in your property is to identify the damage. Below, we will be going over some of the most common signs of termite damage.
Identifying Termite Damage
In many cases, the damage caused by a termite infestation will be noticed before the actual termites are. This is why it is important to be able to identify the signs of termite damage as quickly as possible.
Below, we have listed some of the most common signs of damage caused by termites.
If you own a property with wooden siding, you are especially at risk for termites.
Once you notice damage to the wooden structure of the home, you should inspect the wood for nests and holes where termites and other pests can be reproducing.
Another way to tell if there is damage to the wood is by tapping it. If you hear a hollow sound emitting from the wood, this means that drywood termites have likely eaten there way through the wood.
There can also be damage to wooden structures elsewhere in the living space, including:
- Kitchen cabinets
- Wall dividers
Since termites usually choose to hide within a property's walls, they may resort to building their nests there.
Damage to the drywall can be indicated by cracking or bubbling in the paint. Another way to tell if there are termites in your walls is by looking for small pinholes near the baseboard of the drywall. These holes serve as entry and exit points for the termites and can indicate a termite infestation.
Termite Wings or Droppings
Another telltale sign that the property has been attracting termites is that there are termite wings or termite droppings scattered around the property.
Termite droppings are shaped like pellets and they roughly resemble sawdust in appearance. Spotting these droppings is a good indication that there is a termite infestation somewhere in the property.
You may also find some discarded wings when there are termites in the property. These wings are shedded by the termites when they are searching for a suitable place to lay a nest.
Obviously, spotting the actual termites is the clearest sign that the property has been infested by termites. Before, we explained some of the ways to spot termites and how to differentiate them from ants.
If you have already determined that you have a termite infestation in your property, it's time to move on to the next step - removing the termites.
Removing Termites From A Rental Property
There are typically two ways that someone can deal with a termite infestation - doing it yourself or contacting professional pest control services.
This partly depends on who will be responsible for removing the termites from the rental unit. We will go over this topic later in the article, as the responsibility can become complicated.
In this section, however, we are going to explain the two methods of getting rid of termites in your property.
The first, and least common, method of removing termites is by doing it yourself.
This is typically only possible if the termite infestation is not very severe and can be kept under control. This means that there have only been one or two pieces of furniture or of the structure that have been damaged.
The first step in removing the termites on your own is to use liquid poison on the affected surface. After that, you would place bait traps around those same areas as well as around the yard to lure the termites away from the property.
After determining that there is no longer a termite infestation in the property, all of the affected wood should be replaced. This is because, since it probably suffered a lot of damage from the termites, it can be detrimental to the structure of your home.
If you cannot manage to get rid of the termites on your own, it may be best to contact a professional.
Hire Professional Services
For termite infestations that are more severe and cannot be taken care of on your own, it is best to hire a professional to do it.
A licensed exterminator should be able to completely rid the property of termites - and any other pests that may be present - in a reasonable amount of time. They will probably use some of the same strategies as described above, but will probably have more sophisticated tools and methods at their disposal.
However, these services can be very expensive. That is why it is important for tenants and landlords to know who is responsible for covering all of the costs.
In the next section, we will be explaining who is responsible for termite extermination, as well as how to prevent termites for the future.
Who Is Responsible
Determining who is responsible for exterminating the termites can be a complex task. Typically, responsibility can be determined by reading the lease agreement, but even this can get complicated.
In most cases, the landlord will be responsible for exterminating the termites from the property.
One of the main reasons for this is that landlord-tenant laws and local laws require the landlord to provide a safe and habitable environment for the tenant. And, since termites can pose a direct threat to the tenant's livability, they are usually held responsible for getting rid of them.
Throughout this process, it is also possible that the tenant may not be able to be in the property. This means that the landlord will also be responsible for providing a relocation benefit to the tenant.
Although there are not many specific laws regarding compensation for this lost time, many landlords choose to prorate the monthly rent and refund the tenant for the missed days.
In some cases, if the landlord can prove that the termite infestation is due to an error on the tenant's part, the tenant may be responsible for covering the costs.
If the tenant has done things like:
- Allowing excess moisture to accumulate
- Not fixing leaky pipes or faucets
- Contacting the landlord immediately after discovering termites
- Storing firewood or wood debris near foundations
...they may be responsible for exterminating the termites. It is also important for the tenant to give the landlord reasonable notice of the infestation in order to give the landlord time to fix the situation.
However, if the tenant did not do any of these things and was still forced to pay for the extermination services, they may move to sue in a small claims court and withhold rent from the landlord. If you want more information about the landlord-tenant laws in your state, head over to DoorLoop's Laws Page to learn more.
This is when termite prevention, and pest prevention in general, become crucial.
In the next section, we will be discussing some of the best methods for preventing termites in a rental property.
There are a number of steps that property managers and landlords can take to prevent termites. Below, we have outlined some of the simple steps that can be taken to reduce the risks of attracting termites.
One of the most important steps in preventing termites is to control the level of moisture in the property.
Instances of excess moisture, like damp wood or standing water, can eventually attract termites if it is not taken care of.
Using Treated Wood
It is very important to use treated wood for reconstruction after exterminating termites. This treated wood has been infused with chemicals that are meant to deter unwanted pests and prevent rot.
Treated wood should be used for various wooden constructions, including:
- Bed frames
...and many more.
Some more tips for preventing termites in a rental property include:
- Fixing leaky pipes and faucets
- Decluttering the property
- Cleaning the yard
- Removing piles of wood
By following all of these tips, it becomes very difficult for termites to infest your home.
In conclusion, it is extremely important to continuously take measures to prevent termites from infesting your rental property. Termites may be a scary and dangerous pest, but that doesn't mean that they cannot be prevented.
This could be accomplished by conducting regular inspections and maintaining constant contact with the tenant. This way, the problem can be quickly identified and the tenant can go back to regular living conditions in no time.