Are Apartments at a Higher Risk for Bed Bugs?

Bed bug infestations in the US are at an all time high. Both residential and non-residential properties are increasingly vulnerable to these pests. It seems that no place is safe. But are some properties more vulnerable than others? That’s a tricky question to answer.

We know that bed bugs are parasites. They rely on human hosts to survive. So, naturally, bed bugs will be found wherever you find human beings. No property, in and of itself, is more prone to infestation. However, those buildings that see a great deal of human traffic are more likely to attract bed bugs. It’s the human equation that tilts the scales. The greater the number of people the higher the risk of an infestation.

Bed Bugs and Apartment Buildings

Apartment building infestations happen much as they do anywhere else. Bed bugs hitchhike into the building with the help of residents and visitors. They stowaway in luggage and on clothing; in furniture and in shipping cartons. Once inside they begin to explore their new surroundings. Finding places to hide and hosts to feed upon. They begin to breed and a full-scale infestation is soon underway.

The problem of infestations in apartments and other multi-residence buildings has become so pronounced that building owners and managers have had to readdress how their pest control budgets are allocated. Money that was previously earmarked for general pest control has now had to be redirected to specifically combatting bed bugs. It can be a costly shift for both management and tenants.

Why Are Multi-Unit Residences at Higher Risk?

There are several reasons apartment buildings can be at a higher risk for bed bug infestations. While the introduction of bed bugs to the property is not unlike other instances of infestation, once inside the bed bugs can take advantage of unique aspects of multi-residence buildings.

  • Shared Walls and Hallways – Tenants in a multi-unit residence share many things including heating and air conditioning vents, pipes, electrical infrastructure, and hallways. If one tenant brings bed bugs into the building the pests can easily travel between units. A short crawl through a vent or across a hall can easily let the infestation take hold in multiple apartments.
  • Shared Laundry – Common areas in apartment buildings offer plenty of opportunities for bed bugs to spread. Laundry rooms, as well as storage areas, are often hot beds of bed bug activity.
  • Tenant Turnover – One common aspect of apartment complexes is the routine changing of the residents. Turnover is to be expected. But every time a new tenant moves in there is a chance they are bringing bed bugs with them from their previous residence. Once inside those bed bugs can begin to reproduce and migrate to neighboring tenants’ apartments.
  • Visitor Traffic – Multi-family residents naturally mean a high level of visitor traffic. When a friend or family member comes to visit you they may well be bringing bed bugs along for the ride. Multiply that by every apartment in the complex and you can see how easy it for a large scale infestation to occur.

What to Do if You Find Bed Bugs in Your Apartment

If you are seeing signs of bed bug activity in your apartment the first thing you need to do is refer to your lease and/or renter’s agreement. Pest control is often the responsibility of the property owner or their representatives, but that is not always the case. It’s important to understand your responsibilities are as a tenant before tackling any pest control issue.

Whether or not you are financially responsible for tackling home pest control issues in your apartment you should immediately contact the complex’s owner or manager. It’s important to notify management so they can attempt to pinpoint the origin of the infestation and notify other tenants of the issue. Bed bugs are apt to spread quickly through multi-family residences and your neighbors need to be prepared to take any necessary steps to protect themselves from any potential infestations.

Above all don’t panic. Bed bugs can happen to anyone, and they are no reflection on your housekeeping or that of your neighbors. Follow the terms set out in your renter’s agreement and take any and all steps to address the issue with the goal of eliminating bed bugs from your home.

Published by Scott Palatnik


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