As temperatures change, community associations often see an increase in the number of pest-related complaints. Determining the best way to deal with bed bugs, rodents, termites, and other pest complaints can be a challenge for board members and property managers who must juggle a variety of competing interests in order to best serve their communities.
Condominium, homeowner (HOA), and townhome associations can seek to avoid the significant damage and major inconveniences caused by pest infestations by following these eight steps:
1. Educate Residents
Associations are encouraged to provide residents with an annual reminder of best practices for preventing pest problems including proper storage of food, waste removal, and property maintenance. In addition, residents should be provided with information to assist with early identification of potential pest problems and instructions for properly reporting/responding to pest sightings.
2. Encourage Reporting
In the fight against pest infestations, rapid reporting and appropriate response are the best weapons. It is essential for associations to encourage residents to report potential pest issues as soon as possible and discourage any self-help attempts.
Too often, associations put more focus on punishing residents who experience pest issues rather than encouraging residents to come forward when there is a concern. Unsurprisingly, this results in residents failing to report pest issues and/or attempting to resolve issues on their own; both of which are widely responsible for minor pest problems quickly becoming major disasters.
3. Hire Reputable Contractors
Any attempt to prevent or eliminate a pest problem is only as good as the person providing the service. Associations are best protected against pests when proper prevention and extermination services are performed by licensed and trained professionals.
Associations should always engage reputable vendors who are licensed to use the most effective treatment methods and should avoid asking maintenance staff to use consumer grade products obtained from the local home improvement store.
4. Take Preventative Measures
The best way to address a pest infestation problem is to avoid it from happening in the first place. While it may be impossible to entirely prevent all pest infestations, preventative measures performed on a routine basis can go a long way towards stopping a problem before it starts.
5. Budget for Pest Control Services
Boards often strive to avoid any assessments increases and in doing so may look for opportunities to trim the budget. In this regard, preventative pest control may seem non-essential compared to keeping the lights on or making sure the garbage gets taken out.
Associations should be mindful that failing to include proper funding for preventative pest control services is a gamble that could result in a large unbudgeted for expenditure when the building gets hit with a pest infestation.
6. Enforce the Declaration
It should come as no surprise that pests thrive in unsanitary conditions and many associations face the challenge of dealing with certain residents who live in less than desirable conditions. Nearly all declarations contain a covenant that requires residents to keep their homes in good order and repair.
In order to mitigate the possibility of an unkept home being the source of a pest infestation, associations must be vigilant about policing this covenant.
7. Have a Written Pest Management Plan in Place
While some municipalities (like the City of Chicago) mandates that all condominium associations have a pest management plan, associations outside of the city limits and urban centers would be well served to follow suit.
A successful pest management plan provides for regularly scheduled preventative treatments, education, mandatory reporting requirements, treatment, inspection, and an enforcement policy.
Pest management plans should also establish who is responsible for arranging and paying the costs of extermination services under a variety of different scenarios. For example, an association may determine that a resident reporting a single bed bug at the first available opportunity is not the same as a hoarder who only gets discovered when neighboring units are affected.
8. Consult with the Association’s Legal Counsel
A skilled community association lawyer can be a valuable resource for assisting boards who make pest control a priority. Community association lawyers are familiar with the practical aspects of pest control in common interest buildings and can be instrumental in helping to develop an effective pest management plan.
The Association’s legal counsel should also be consulted before an association enters into any recurring or long-term pest control contract. Moreover, an association’s attorney should be called upon if a board finds it necessary to enforce the association’s declaration against a unit owner that puts the other residents and the community property at risk.
If your association has questions regarding pest infestations in your community, do not hesitate to contact our firm. Please call 855-537-0500 or visit www.ksnlaw.com.
Since 1983, KSN has been a legal resource for condominium, homeowner, and townhome associations. We have four office locations, serving hundreds of clients and thousands of communities throughout Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin. Our attorneys are also licensed in Arizona, Florida, and Missouri.
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