Know the Law
The application of pesticides in rental housing is regulated at the federal and state level. In most states, any staff person or contractor who applies a pesticide at a rental property must be licensed by the state. Even in vacant units, maintenance staff and renovation contractors must have a license to apply pesticides. Although we don't recommend it, residents can apply pesticides in their homes according to the label directions. Housing providers cannot give out or sell pesticides without a distributor's license.
The state’s department of agriculture or department of the environment oversees licensing of pest management professionals (PMPs). PMPs take exams to get licensed, or certified, in specific categories, according to where they will work. In addition to taking exams, most PMPs must attend classes each year to be recertified. Obtain copies of licenses for each PMP who works on your property. You will want to know what chemicals are being used and where, so that if problems arise in the future, you will have documentation of what is in a particular unit.
If you want to know whether your PMP has the proper licensing, or have a question about pesticide regulation, contact your state pesticide division. For general pesticide questions, use the National Pesticide Information Center at 1-800-858-7378 or explore their website.
Hire a Professional
Many housing providers hire a pest control company that applies pesticides in dwelling units on a routine basis. This service is not integrated pest management (IPM). Under an IPM contract, PMPs will be an integral part of your IPM team. They should run trainings, act as consultants on construction and renovation projects, make recommendations about pest-conducive conditions, track property-wide pest trends through monitoring, and apply the least-toxic pesticides that will get the job done.