One of the questions many landlords face each year is who is actually responsible for pest control at your properties.  Seems like when spring time rolls around each year, we start seeing the first signs of ants and other insects around our properties.

Our company policy is to provide pest control services for all of our properties twice each year.  As long as the properties are kept clean by the tenants, this usually does the trick.  Providing pest control services for your properties is also a great opportunity to observe the general condition of your properties to see if they are being properly cleaned and maintained by the tenants.  We generally try to have a company representative accompany vendors when they are working at our properties, especially if the tenant is not home.  This is just good policy and protection for you, your tenants and the vendors.

But, what about those instances where a tenant calls and tells you they have ants everywhere.  Or, there are roaches in the kitchen.  Most landlords know when this occurs, there is normally a reason related to tenant behavior involved.  In most cases, we find food has been left exposed in the kitchen or other rooms, or the cooking area has not been properly cleaned after use.  Trying to be good, responsive landlords, we never argue or debate who is at fault when the call is received, but make sure the problem is first resolved.  Afterward, we discuss with the tenant the possible causes of the insect infestation and who is or will be responsible for costs.  We also make sure the tenant is provided with information about how to prevent similar situations from occurring in the future.

My new eBook, “So You Want To be A Better Landlord” contains more about working with vendors and tenants.  Available this month at

RACCOON UPDATE:  Our four little raccoons are now 3 weeks old and look like real raccoons.  Dr. Ann just sent me a recent photos of how the little girls (3) and guy) are doing.  Check it out!

A Raccoon Update!

April 27, 2010

feeding time

Ann has to get up at 2am and again at 4am to feed the little kits and keep them growing.  After two months, the kits will be able to eat on their own and the early morning feeds will no longer be necessary.  They are now three weeks old.

three of the raccoon kits with Dr. Ann

The kits now have their eyes wide open and with full bellies, they chatter and talk to each other, and oh yes sleep.

On another note, the new eBook cover for “So You Want To Be A Better Landlord” is now posted on our website and we are just a few weeks away from the release date for the new eBook.  Duane Clark, our graphic designer has done a terrific job on the cover and the formatting thus far looks great.  Shortly thereafter, we will also make the book available in the Kindle format through  Later this summer or in early fall 2010, we will also have “So You Want To Be A Better Landlord” available in paperback.

We will keep everyone posted on the growth of the Anna Street Raccoons!

Houston…We have a rescue! After meeting with the nuisance abatement officer and visualizing the thought of having Mama Anna the Raccoon snared and dragged down out of the ceiling (assuming she didn’t chew off anybody’s arm), I decided to take the wait and see approach to rescue the newborn raccoon kits.  Hopefully, Mama Anna would get hungry enough to wander into to the live trap for a smelly fish treat.

Unfortunately, sometimes the best plans don’t work.  This morning one of our student tenants called to inform me Mama Anna had apparently pushed through a screen window in the storage room and gotten outside in an attempt to get into the trash cans. As deduced from the muddy little hand prints on the lid of the trash cans.  I told him to shut the window and perhaps we could keep Mama Anna outside.

This afternoon, while visiting the property, Mama Anna and I came face to face behind the house as she tried to get back inside to her kits.  Knowing the coast was clear inside, me and several of the SEMO Students managed to remove many of the ceiling tiles and tear out a small part of the garage ceiling to locate the kits, which we could hear crying somewhere in the soffit, but could not locate.

As the excitement grew… finally reaching up and over the soffit and down into a small cavity, I could feel the warm fuzzy bodies of four raccoon kits, which we managed to safely remove.  You should have heard the oohs and aahs.  They are quite cute you know!  As I watched the students admire the little ringed tail critters, I glanced back into my kitchen, which now resembled a blast area with pieces of insulation, wood, and ceiling  strewn about the floor.

From there to our good friend and veterinarian, Dr. Ann Seabaugh, who out of the goodness of her heart will care for, feed, and nurture these little kits to a size where they can be trained to survive in the wild on their own.  The world is lucky to have such people as Dr. Ann!

So the saga of Mama Anna and the little raccoon kits end for now, but we will have photos as they grow in the next few weeks and months.  And grow they will!

For all you wanna-be landlords and current landlords, you better keep an eye open for a sad, wandering mama Raccoon.  Sometimes being a better landlord takes a big heart.

My new eBook, “So You Want To Be A Better landlord” is now with the graphic artist for layout and formatting. Still looking at May 2010 for the release.

Speaking of being a better landlord, sometimes landlords can’t prepare for everything.

A couple of weeks ago I was notified by a group of my student tenants that a Mama Raccoon had apparently taken up residence above the false ceiling in one my rental properties. The student tenants could hear what sounded like newborn kits making their little whimpering sounds. After visiting the property and shining a light up into the ceiling area, I was greeted by the head of a rather large Mama Raccoon, who growled a bit to let me know she wasn’t none too happy with the intrusion. I named her Mama Anna.

My wife and I both grew up on farms and had pet raccoons, so we know a little bit about the behavior of Mama Raccoons. They are very protective and can be vicious when protecting their kits.

Well, figuring there was no way Anna was going to come down away from her kits, I put my live trap near the path she normally traveled (according to my tenants), so maybe she might wander inside and we could relocate the entire crew. No such luck!

Today, I receive a distress call from one of the young men informing me they could hear sounds from inside one of the walls in the kitchen, which sounded like one of the kits had fallen down, inside the wall. Sure enough, when I checked the light switch, the kit was lodged just above the light switch inside the wall cavity and behind the wiring. So what is a good landlord to do?

I took my pry tool and very gently removed the drywall and managed to pull the little kit out of the wall cavity. She was about a week old, eyes still closed tight, and whining like crazy.

Now comes the brilliant part! Knowing that Mama Anna was looking for her missing kit, I decided to put the little kit in a cardboard box just outside the garage door in an attempt to lure Mama out of the garage. Of course everyone at the house had to look at the little kit and take pictures. Finally, we moved everyone away and waited patiently. After about 10 minutes, Mama Anna creeped slowly out of the garage and toward the kit. Then, like someone had set her tail on fire, she grabbed the kit in her front paws and took off for the entrance to the storage room. Once inside the storage room, boxes and stuff flew everywhere as she scampered up into the ceiling area with the kit, before I could get the garage door closed. So much for my plan. Did I mention that Mama Anna is also huge!

So…tonight we have whimpering kits in the ceiling; Mama Anna piddling and pooping all over the ceiling tiles; and a live trap in the garage filled with the worse smelling fish I could find, hoping to lure Mama Anna the Raccoon down from the ceiling to eat. Stay tuned…this is the stuff you don’t read about in landlord books!