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Pest-Proofing Your Self-Storage Property: Strategies and DIY Tips

By Jonathan Fesmire Comments

Nothing can spoil a tenant’s perception of a self-storage facility quite like entering a unit and finding a pest infestation. A variety of rodents and bugs, from rats to cockroaches, can damage tenant belongings, not to mention your own property. Pests often spread disease in their droppings or by transporting germs on their bodies. As long as they’re around, you risk looking unprofessional and open your business to liability. If news spreads about the problem and you’re not working to remedy it, you can lose current and potential customers.

It’s worth the cost to protect your facility and units. While there are several do-it-yourself (DIY) tasks you can perform to help keep pests at bay, tenants should also bear some responsibility by not storing items that could carry or attract an infestation. Professional assistance may also be necessary. Let’s look at each prong: tenant cooperation, DIY methods and exterminators.

Tenant Cooperation

Infestations often begin with stored items that contain or attract bugs and rodents, so make sure each tenant understands the types of goods that are prohibited including food or dirty food containers, animals (living or dead), plants (living or dead), and anything damp or wet. In areas that are particularly humid or markets with high concentrations of pests, even cardboard boxes can contribute to the problem.

Create a brochure or pamphlet that covers the items tenants are forbidden to store and why. Include this information in your rental agreement, and provide instructions on how customers should prep goods for storage. All items should be clean and completely dry. Tenants should ensure no food or crumbs are mixed in with their possessions. Stored clothing and linens should be washed in hot water or dry-cleaned to destroy any eggs.

Encourage tenants to leave moth balls or cotton balls dipped in peppermint oil around the inside of their units, as these can ward off rodents. Borax, sold as roach powder, gets roaches and ants to exterminate themselves. The powder sticks to their legs, and when they clean themselves, they ingest it, leading to dehydration and death. You can suggest that renters sprinkle a light layer of Borax where the unit walls meet the floor. If a tenant must store a mattress, tell him to spray it with insecticide and vacuum it. If it has bedbugs, this tactic can kill them and their eggs.

Since you can’t look inside units once they’re rented, tenants should periodically check their own space for pests and contact the manager if they find any signs of infestation. Those who follow these rules will greatly decrease the odds of pests being drawn to their units.

DIY Methods

There are several things you can do around your storage property to discourage pests. First, make sure any landscaping, such as trees and other plants, is trimmed away from storage buildings. This will help prevent bugs from migrating to the units.

Even small cracks can let in pests like ants, cockroaches and spiders. If possible, ensure all units are airtight and watertight. Making a unit airtight may only be possible with your climate-controlled spaces, but take measures to seal gaps wherever possible. Fill spaces around pikes and in the walls with silicone-based caulk. This should also be applied to wall cracks, the area around light fixtures and especially around pipes.

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