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It started with one of our tenants who saw termites swarming around a light bulb in the bathroom and she was not happy.

As soon as I received the call, I sent out an exterminator to do a spot treatment in the bathroom in the building that we manage. While he was there, the exterminator checked the whole unit, to see if there were other signs of termites, and treated anything he saw.

Then, we got a call from someone on the other side of the same building, with the same issue: termites swarming in the bathroom. This was not a good sign: spotting termite issues in the same building, but on the opposite side from the first location. Again, this unit was spot treated.

And it got worse. There are two buildings at this commercial property and the next call that came in came from the other building.

I got a call from a young woman who runs a spa – and she was hysterical, crying about serving champagne in flutes to her clients and being invaded by these “creatures”.  That was what moved the extermination project to the next level: treating both buildings at the property.

There was some good news: these were drywood termites, not subterranean, so there are options when it comes to treatment. One option is to tent – the other is a non-tenting treatment. The question is: which to choose?

We decided to do both, we tented one building and used the non-tenting treatment in the other building for a few reasons.

Tenting a Building:
1. Everyone has to leave a building that is tented and it needs to be sealed for a number of days.
One of the buildings had 21 tenants and was open on the weekends. It was impossible to close it up one weekend without interfering with business hours. This was the building that we chose for the non-tenting treatment.

The other building only had two tenants, so it was easier to have them leave the location for a couple of days.  This was the building that we chose for the tenting treatment.

2. A tented building has to be totally enclosed.
The building that was chosen for the non-tenting treatment was adjacent to and touching the next-door property. It could not be fumigated properly without interfering with the building next door – in fact, no one would be able to safely enter the other building during a tenting process, so tenting wasn’t a good option for this building.

3. Even after the chemicals have been cleared and the building aired, there can be a chemical odor.
Before anyone is allowed back in the building the building will be tested to make sure that no chemicals are present.  However, there can be a lingering chemical smell and some people may react to the smell and report not feeling well until the odor is gone.

Non-tenting termite treatment:
1. Non-tenting treatment is less disruptive to tenant businesses.
A non-tenting treatment can be administered while tenants are open for business.  In addition, while most commercial properties are only occupied during the day, some people live above their businesses, which means they are in the building through the evening. This complicates matters, as they have to leave their homes if a building is tented, in addition to closing their businesses.

2. Non-tenting treatment is
less expensive.
The extermination team comes through and treats any area where they see, or a tenant reports having seen, termite activity. Key locations, such as door frames and window frames are also treated. This means the procedure can be done in one day, on a unit by unit basis. This shorter time frame is one of the reasons that the non-tenting treatment is less expensive than tenting.

Both treatment options carry service warranties.
Whether you tent a location or use a non-tenting treatment, the service provider should offer a warranty for the treatment and they will retreat if any activity is reported. For drywood termites, it’s possible to get a yearly contract with an exterminating company so they come in and spot-check throughout the year at no additional cost.

Lessons Learned
I preferred using the non-tenting treatment because our tenants appreciated being able to stay open while the treatment was performed, and no-one complained about a lingering chemical smell in the building where the non-tenting treatment was used.

About the Author

Fairman & Associates Property & Facility Management
Susan Dubbin

Susan Dubbin, a Licensed Real Estate Associate and Licensed Community Association Manager, joined Fairman & Associates, Inc. as a Property Manager in 2006. She has worked in the property management industry for fifteen years. She is currently managing eight properties in Boca Raton and works closely with her owners and tenants to ensure optimum maintenance of the properties and tenant satisfaction.