Commercial Real Estate Community: Information is Power when dealing with Bed Bugs

The phrase... "Information is Power" could not be more true today than ever...would you agree? It certainly was true yesterday as I received two phone calls between 4pm - 6pm, both requesting our canine bed bug inspections at Class A commercial offices in the Chicagoland area (one in Chicago & one in the Chicago suburbs), Both property managers had received complaints of bed bugs found or suspected in a tenant's space. Fortunately, we were able to react swiftly for one of the properties and complete their bed bug inspection within the next 24 hours, while the other was not so lucky.

 The unlucky property called with a complaint of bed bugs found in a locker room area used for onsite contractors. This property manager called their regular pest control company to come out to inspect and verify what was found, which was the right thing to do. However, the PCO recommended immediately applying chemicals in the space and recommended that they request a canine bed bug inspection as well.  They applied the chemicals the same day and then the property manager contacted us for a canine bed bug inspection.

Unfortunately, I had to tell a customer in need that I cannot help them for at least 30 days, which is one of the worst parts of my job. The fact is, we are unable to complete canine bed bug inspections in areas that have been treated with chemicals for at least 30 days after the chemicals have been applied. We have this firm rule in place for two reasons:

  1. The harsh chemicals used to treat bed bugs are harmful to a dog's nose and can actually damage their sense of smell permanently. The safety of our dogs is our #1 priority.
  2. If our dogs were to inspect an area that had recently been treated, our dogs may hit on the odor of a live bed bug, however, that bug could actually be dying and there would be no way to tell the difference. Essentially, the integrity of the inspection would be compromised.

That said, our plan of action was modified to complete a post treatment inspection in 30 days and we also provided some recommendations for how to handle the situation over the next 30 days. These recommendations included providing instructions to give to their tenants and contractors, and a possible educational program that we can provide to our regular inspection customers at no additional charge.

Like in most cases, property managers are relying on their contractors to be the experts in their field and make the best possible recommendations. Unfortunately, in this case the pest control company "put the cart before the horse", which changed the overall plan slightly. In fact, this pest control company is a contractor we know and trust and rely on a great deal, but I believe it was just a time where things were moving a little too fast. It happens and we have to just move on with our new plan.

My primary goal for our bed bug inspection business in 2017 is to effectively communicate how the entire process works to as many property managers as possible so they have the power to make the best decisions for their properties.