If you’re in the apartment or property management business, you know that cockroach sightings can prompt urgent tenant complaints. After all, cockroaches are ugly, creepy, scary and are known to be mechanical vectors for bacteria, including E. coli and Salmonella.

landlord pest control

In some people, cockroaches may trigger allergens and allergy symptoms, so it’s no wonder that your tenants don’t want to share space with these dreaded creatures. If word gets out that one of your properties has a cockroach infestation, your professional reputation can be harmed and prospective tenants may look elsewhere.

Related: Pest Control Checklist for Property Managers

How can you fight back against cockroaches and the problems they may bring to your properties and tenants? Here are some suggestions to help with your landlord responsibilities when it comes to pest control:

Act Quickly

If you receive a cockroach complaint or suspect a cockroach issue, time is of the essence. That’s because cockroaches are largely nocturnal and are adept at hiding in cracks, crevices and building voids. If one is spotted, you can expect that others are lurking nearby. German cockroaches, which are the species of cockroaches commonly found in homes, multiply rapidly and can establish surprisingly large infestations very quickly. In fact, it’s not unusual to find infestations with populations in the hundreds and even thousands with some species. Early intervention can be key in gaining control and not allowing an infestation to get out of hand.

Know the Signs

In addition to actual pest sightings and tenant complaints, there are some signs that point to a possible infestation.  You may notice dead roaches or roach feces. Roach feces can look like small pepper specks, brown stains or coffee grounds, depending on the cockroach species.

You may also see egg cases, also known as oothecae. These are usually oblong, brown casings that are left behind when the eggs hatch. You’ll often spot the casings in tight, protected areas like cracks, crevices or behind furniture and appliances. If egg casings are found, they should be removed and thrown in the outside trash immediately. Large cockroach infestations can also have a distinctive odor that some describe as pungent or musty. The odor can get worse as an infestation grows or as roaches die.


While not the only factor in cockroach control, cleanliness and good sanitation play important roles in keeping these pests at bay.  This is especially true for German cockroaches, which are commonly associated with poor sanitation. Cockroaches accumulating to feed on garbage or food scraps in one apartment can enter a comparatively clean adjacent apartment. Often times, a messy person’s apartment (the source) doesn’t have any cockroach complaints – it’s instead the apartment tenants that are surrounding him or her that complain. Keep records of infested units. Doing so can help focus control and sanitation efforts on the source, which will help surrounding units as well.

Encourage your tenants to empty garbage and trash daily by making outdoor receptacles convenient and easy to access. Always make sure that trash receptacles are positioned away from buildings and kept tightly sealed. To eliminate food and moisture sources that can attract cockroaches, encourage tenants to clean up spills right away and to report any plumbing or appliance leaks immediately.

Make Repairs a Priority

When a tenant reports a leak, take steps to fix it as soon as possible to help avoid attracting cockroaches. Inspect building exteriors often for cracks, crevices and holes that need sealing. Cockroaches can use their flattened bodies to squeeze through tiny openings, and some species, such as the American and Oriental cockroach, can also enter apartment buildings through sewers and drains.  Check window screens for tears and weather stripping on doors for cracks and signs of wear.

Clear Clutter

Keep building exteriors and store room areas cleared of clutter and debris, especially cardboard boxes, which can provide a cockroach habitat. Inspect wood cabinets often for cockroach signs. Inspect exterior areas to make sure dumpster areas are maintained, that bushes and trees do not touch or crowd the buildings. Also, if there are firewood piles or other stored items outside, make sure that they’re not stacked against the outside walls of the building.


Most species, including those that are commonly found in homes (German, Oriental and American cockroaches), thrive in warm, damp environments. So you should ensure that your apartment buildings maintain adequate ventilation year-round.

Get Help

When it comes to pest control for your property, you need a trusted partner with proven commercial experience to effectively treat cockroaches and other pests. Terminix® Commercial has experience in serving apartment complexes and other properties of all sizes and understands the unique challenges that property managers face. Contact Terminix today for a free estimate.


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