“continuous mice and roach problems in our new “luxury” apartment building since we moved in last summer”

free bugs
Photo by PoPville flickr user nevermindtheend

“Dear PoPville,

We live in a new “luxury” apartment building in Shaw and have had continuous mice and roach problems in our apartment since we moved in last summer. The mouse problem seems to finally be under control (fingers crossed) but it took months of emails and calls to get management to do anything about the situation. The roach problem is ongoing.

My question is – has anyone else experienced similar pest problems in a new building or elsewhere? What does it take to get management to take the problem seriously? Should we look into contacting a DC tenants’ rights association? Go crazy on social media? We like everything about where we live except for the disgusting pest problem, and would love to have this finally resolved.”

44 Comment

  • Is it 7th flats? I moved in there last spring and spotted a roach for the first time just this past week

  • Let me guess- you have exposed brick walls? My neighbors had that and found roaches coming in from their other neighbors. The neighbors were hoarding, and pest control said their was nothing really they could do.

    • That happened to me in Fairfax County. We were able to get rid of the roaches, for the most part, but it took multiple exterminator visits. Luckily our dogs were able to scare away the rats when they ventured into our yard. Now that we live in DC we just have the winter mice.

  • What new luxury apartments do you speak of? I am in the process if looking at new places, and would like to avoid this if possible. Thanks.

  • Ground floor apartment? Is there construction nearby that might be ripping up the local rat burrows?
    Get cover for all your drains and keep them covered at all times. That’s one way to block the roaches and water-bugs.

    As for the mice, have you blocked the points of entry? Where are they getting in?
    Unfortunately, if you’re on the ground floor there might not be much that can be done aside from the usual traps and poison bait.

    Also, I’d demand a reduction in rent. Start logging every day pest you kill and sightings. Record how much time and money you’ve spent. It’s absurd that a brand new “luxury” rental should have so many points of entry for these critters.

  • Totally! Cause minorities love living with rodents and roaches, right?

    • Don’t forget males. It looks like they love living with rodents and roaches too. Also, possibly grown women.

  • Rodents probably get into the walls–they tend to stay there. There may be openings behind your appliances. When I redid my kitchen, we found some passage ways. You might see if there are openings large enough around your pipes including any you have for HVAC or water heater. New building means nothing, esp. if there are conditions nearby that promote vermin.

  • Unfortunately any apartment or house in the city is going to have mice. There are simply too many and the environment is too food rich to get rid of them. Even renos that have been stripped to the studs and new construction will have mice in months.
    Just make sure all the points of entry are sealed and you are getting annual professional abatement and you’ll never see them. Anyone who tells you their building is pest free is deluding themselves. Every building should have active pest control. There’s no “getting rid of” mice in the city it’s an active process. If you see one, it’s time for more abatement.

    • I Dont Get It

      I don’t have mice and haven’t since I got a cat

      • Yeah, I find my cats are pretty effective at dealing with pests. They’ll hunt and kill bugs, and we haven’t had any rat or mice issues since we adopted the cats. No corpses, either. I think the smell is enough to keep them away.

        • +1 to getting a cat. I’ve lived in NYC, Philadelphia, and now D.C., and have never had anything more than the occasional sighting of a roach or water bug, even when my next-door neighbors were dealing with mice and other bugs. My two cats are mighty hunters, and when I moved out of my NYC apartment, my old roommate called me to ask (only half-jokingly) if I’d leave the cats with him. Once they were gone, those critters started showing up more and more frequently, scaring the hell out of him. There is virtually no way for any given building, even brand-new “luxury” buildings to be completely pest free in a densely populated city, you just do everything you can and then just be glad that in this day and age, you probably won’t get the Bubonic Plague from a pest that’s managed to cross your threshold.

      • saf

        4 cats. Occasional mouse.

        They patrol, eventually mice die, but it often takes a few days.

  • OP, you mention that the mouse problem seems to be under control but the roach problem is “ongoing” — is the management having a pest-control company come in on a regular basis to spray? And if so, is the company spraying the baseboards? Is the spraying being done as an opt-in thing –i.e., only for individual units at those residents’ request? Or is it being done as a building-wide thing, perhaps with an opt-out provision?

  • Used to live in a non-luxury WC Smith building INFESTED with roached. I’d see 5-10 a day and kept the palce very clean. Whenever, I’d bomb there’d be HUNDREDS. They couldn’t have cared less. For whatever it’s worth DC law prohibits landlords from conveying interest in a property that has pests, but it’s your responsibility to keep it clean after that.

    • Emmaleigh504

      roaches can eat almost everything, so it doesn’t matter how clean you are. They’ll find some glue on an envelope to munch on for a year or 2.

      • +1

        Cleanliness helps, but you can’t get rid of them completely unless you put out traps. OP, I recommend using Advion bait traps for roaches. They work like a dream. You can buy them on Amazon. They look like small hockey pucks.

  • Is this the Heritage at Shaw “luxury” apartment homes aka former low income rentals turned market price?

  • This is an asinine comment. Yes, being a slob can lead to having roaches… but what’s really at issue is how the neighbors maintain their apartments (and what adjoining buildings are like), and any baseline issue with the building itself. (New buildings aren’t immune to pest problems, but usually it takes a little time for them to make their way in, rather than being swarmed from the get-go). It doesn’t matter if the OP’s apartment is IMMACULATE if he/she has neighbors with roach problems.

  • I lived on the ground floor of a luxury high rise on H Street NE – no roaches but experienced CONSTANT mouse problems. I am so happy to be gone. Bleh.

  • Dumb comment. Problems can come from a multitude of sources: nearby construction, slob neighbors, poor construction/insulation, etc.

  • Is there construction going on nearby? That always seems to stir things up in the pest department. Best of luck, I know that is gross and miserable to deal with.

  • Sad to read earlier commenters trying to put a race debate into it but it aint about race at all. DC was built on water and the housing here all has trash cans of some type close to the places where one actually lives. You have to keep super clean, almost an anal/copd type clean to stay ahead of the pest-rodent problem that comes with living in DC. A few things that have truly helped in my case; cleaning vinegar, along with plugging up holes behind appliances, radiators and any other places where holes might happen to be like closets. Also, if you have hardwood floors make sure there is no separation gaps between wall and floor, another way mice slide in and out. You could get an exterminator but an exterminator will come in with a flashlight look for and point out holes, lay sticky traps down -thus basically doing what the homeowner could do without the costs. Again, it comes down to keeping super clean, don’t hoard -get rid of unused clothing, books, furniture and yep, like mama always said don’t eat in your bedroom and don’t take food out of the kitchen.

  • Prince Of Petworth

    From OP:

    “OP here – these are great questions. So far they have had their maintenance people come in and “treat” the apartment twice for roaches. From what I can tell this includes setting out traps and possibly spraying (?). We have asked them to confirm what exactly “treating” the apartment entails. We also asked them to confirm that there would be ongoing pest control service and what the schedule would be – have yet to hear back about that. The apartment is located above retail and restaurants, and I believe the property managers do not own the building, so it is very possible that the problem originates with retail and restaurants below. They have promised to look into building-wide pest control option – again, have yet to hear back about that. Thanks for suggestions – will ask them to confirm whether pest control is happening building wide.”

    • By “traps” they probably mean poison baits. Those are for small-time roach problems. For a big-time roach problem, the exterminators should be spraying the baseboards.
      When I lived in grad student housing, the management had an exterminator come twice a year… but they sprayed only the interior of the kitchen cabinets, which made zero sense.

    • Exterminators and extermination services will only do so much. The saying ‘aint nothing like your own’ applies here meaning if you as the resident are not really on top of it, -then and only then will it be a done deal. By the way there’s a few books on the rodent problem in DC and the community cleanups that used to happen city wide here and in other places like Baltimore, truly worth a trip to the library to read up on -the more you know category. There’s also the rodent patrol here in DC that goes around they may be a source of info. as well. But ya gotta keep and stay clean; wrap up food garbage and don’t forget to tie down smelly, food and nonfood liquids.
      Weather changes usually bring out different pests but there’s nothing, nothing like keeping and staying clean.

    • If you think (or know) that the downstairs restaurants are not disposing of food waste properly (e.g., too much time between pickups, etc.), you can ask DPW to do an inspection.

  • It would have been better to concentrate on the roaches first, because many varieties of mice and rats will eat roaches.

    Also, is this building pet free? Some buildings encourage cats now because they tend to keep the other critters at bay. If not by hunting, by the scent of their urine.

  • I once had problems with roaches coming from an untidy neighbor’s apartment, however my building at the time was old and had lots of access points/holes. I sprinkled boric acid on the horizontal surfaces in and around the holes and after a few weeks the roaches disappeared. It’s not safe to use if you have pets or children, but if don’t mind seeing white powder around for a few weeks, this is an easy and inexpensive way to address the problem.

  • This is really disgusting and in this day and time you may risk legal action but a friend of mine had the same problem and, along with her rent check, she sent a box filled with all the roach traps and mice she caught in her apartment during the month. The management company got the message and took care of the issue.

  • I have recently dealt with mice and roach issues. I rent from a condo owner. The building has exterminators – but they are useless. All they do is set traps, and do not address the source issue (like the holes the mice are coming from). We finally got our landlord to pay to mouse proof the apartment. It cost $700, but luckily for us the owner agreed to pay.

    We used AR1, and I was really happy with them. He cleaned up the gigantic mess we had made with that dang pest block expanding foam, and then laid down metal mesh, sealed off with a clear caulk. Very unobtrusive, but effective (so far). He came out and did a free inspection first, and let us know all the problem area. We have an older building with radiators, so he mentioned it is easy for the mice to get into the boiler room and then reach the entire building.

    We had a mild problem with a smaller kind of roach . One night we were lucky enough to see a hole they came our of in the crown molding. We filled it with caulk and have seen a lot less. (Once again all the building exterminator did was set a trap).

    So my best advice is to run over your entire apartment and figure out where they are coming in. It is worth the time you may have to put in yourself. We were almost able to fill the mice holes ourselves, until an out of reach portion became an opportunity the second spring and the mice returned. You can do it!

  • burritosinstereo

    For anyone dealing with roaches, I cannot stress how effective boric acid is. You can buy it on amazon for under $10 (http://www.amazon.com/Boric-Acid-Roach-Ant-Killer/dp/B0016J1MZG/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1432844860&sr=8-1&keywords=borax+roach+killer).

    I was seeing roaches frequently in my old apartment and got some of this stuff on recommendation from someone, and it all but eliminated them. I would see maybe one or two every couple of months, but whatever, it was kind of a crummy place and I could live with that. You just put some of the boric acid powder around where you see the roaches/think they might be living (along baseboards, in little holes along the edges of countertops, etc) and let it do its magic.

    Just be careful if you have pets, because it can be toxic, but I have two cats and never had any issues.

  • When I was in grad student housing, my apartment had a massive, massive roach problem (I was killing 5-10 roaches PER HOUR when it was at its worst) that turned out to be entirely trickle-down from the neighbor upstairs. So I know from personal experience that even if you keep your place immaculate and do proper extermination (spraying the baseboards — I ended up doing it myself, repeatedly, because the exterminator the management company used was no good), it can’t completely stem the tide if your neighbors have sufficiently bad roach problems.
    Make sure that all of your food is either in the refrigerator or in roach-proof containers — don’t keep things like opened boxes of cereal in cabinets, shelving, etc.; they need to go either in the fridge or in Rubbermaid-type cereal containers. Never leave dirty dishes in the sink. (If you can’t wash them immediately, put them in the fridge.)
    If there’s enough wiggle room to move the fridge, look and clean behind it.

  • I lived in a very non-luxury Fort Totten apartment with a bad roach and (smaller) mouse problem. The management there was not great either, but I got the needed exterminations (at no additional cost) through sheer persistence.
    In addition to what everyone has said so far (sealing holes around pipes/appliances where mice might be coming in, caulking where the wall meets the floor if there’s a gap, and being as clean as possible to minimize their food sources) I can’t stress this enough: TAKE PICTURES! Document EVERYTHING! Email those pictures of mice or roaches on your counters to your management company. If you call your landlord, ALWAYS follow up with an email saying that you’re “so glad for the call just now and can’t wait for them to come exterminate the apartment and the neighboring apartments.” That way you have written proof you contacted them, and proof of your pest problem.
    When I found a bedbug in the common laundry room, I sent the photo to the landlord and the exterminated. They key is that they can’t just treat your apartment, they have to treat every unit in the building, including the basement and the perimeter. They’re likely not doing that, in which case I don’t know what more you can do beyond sending regular emails asking them for updates on the situation.

  • I’ve been in my 3rd floor NON luxury apt for 7 years and never seen or heard a mouse and I’ve only seen one cockroach in the basement. That is absolutely unacceptable, especially for a luxury building. If my no-frills place manages for 7 years without incident so can yours.

    I think one factor that has to do with it is that we have onsite/live-in maintenance staff that have units in the basement/floor 0. They are extremely serious about ousting the mice and roaches since they sleep in the most accessible areas for pests. If the building has a handyman onsite or that regularly stops by, introduce yourself and bypass management.

  • I live in a multistory building and the pest guy comes to spray each apartment (kitchen) and the basement on a regular basis – this is the only way to keep roaches at bay in the city. See what your rights are under DC tenant law, with hold your rent if legal to do so, and spread the word that this building has roach problems. As a side note: I always ask how often the building is sprayed when I look at an apartment. If they don’t spray on a regular basis, or seem reluctant to spray, I won’t rent the apartment.

Comments are closed.