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Community Builders - Improving Multifamily Communities

Training for Multifamily Professionals

Don’t Let a Dead Roach Join Your Leasing Team

Have you ever walked into a "Ready Unit" and seen a dead roach sitting in the middle of the floor?

I have! 

Imagine if you were a prospective resident and you walked into a beautiful apartment home, only to find a roach on the kitchen counter. Would you remember the beautiful apartment, or would you remember the roach? 

As a Consultant, I have frequently walked into apartment homes that were spotless - other than the one dead roach. The apartments had been made ready. The pest control vendor had already treated the apartment homes, and the apartments had been thoroughly cleaned.  

But wait! If everything had been cleaned and treated, why the dead bugs?

If you have a moment, stop reading and look under your kitchen or bathroom sink. In many cases, you will see that there are gaps around the pipes. 

While extermination programs can be effective at killing roaches and other pests, they are not at all effective at preventing roaches and other pests from entering an apartment. Typically, when one apartment is sprayed, the insects travel through the cracks and holes in the walls to the nearest apartment. Before or after a resident moves into the newly made ready apartment, the insects travel back through the same holes and cracks to again infest the apartment. 

The best way to prevent future infestations is to caulk all the holes and cracks during the make ready process. By caulking the holes and cracks, roaches can't flee to a neighboring apartment when an apartment is treated, nor can they return after the apartment has been made ready and cleaned.

As I have helped communities implement an effective caulking program as a part of the pest control program, the number of roaches, bugs, and other pests goes down dramatically. 

This also means that resident complaints go down and resident retention goes up. Usually, increased resident retention means increased NOI. 

Below is an outline of how to properly caulk apartments during the make ready process: 

When you walk through the front door, turn to the left or right. Just make sure that you continue to go the same direction as you inspect every wall. By going the same direction throughout the apartment, you will be less likely to miss any holes/penetrations. 

In general, you are going to check for any holes/penetrations or cracks where insects or vermin can get through. Big holes need to be patched. In some spaces, it is best to use the expandable foam. But, for most cracks and holes, you will want to use caulk.  

You will want to heavily caulk the kitchen and bathrooms. Below is a list of common places that need to be caulked. 


Light Covers

Penetrations for washer and dryer


A/C returns

Outlet Covers

Penetrations for appliances

Inside of cabinets


Pipes under sinks

All sides of kitchen cabinets.

All sides of attached book shelves


Roaches love places where there is water. Hence, caulking in the kitchen and bathroom is extremely important. 


  • Caulk penetrations under the sink. 
  • Caulk all sides of each cabinet box. Roaches will often hide behind the cabinet and the wall. Use a ladder to check the top side of the cabinet. If the gap is wide, you may want to use the expandable foam. Look inside your cabinets and seal any penetrations. 
  • Make sure the sink is sealed to the countertop. 


  • Caulk around the tub. 
  • Caulk around the base of the toilet.
  • Caulk around each cabinet box.
  • Caulk around all plumbing penetrations.


  • Caulk the top and bottom edges of floor boards.

Switch Plates

  • Caulk around outlet covers.

Air Vents

  • Caulk or foam the gap between the air-duct, and the sheet rock - when the air vent cover is removed.


  • Caulk around any wall penetrations and outlets that are associated with appliances.  

The initial cost of implementing the caulking program can be high due to the man hours involved; initial inspection and caulking can often take a lot of caulk and some time, but when done correctly, caulking can dramatically reduce pest problems in apartments. Follow-up inspection and sealing can be performed quickly and effectively each time the apartment is made ready. Implementation of this program is far superior to conventional extermination programs. 


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