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Pests & Pesticide Use
Housing inspectors receive complaint calls about every sort of pest - from bats to centipedes. Some tenants, who have fear of certain pests such as spiders, expect their landlord to exterminate everything. In most cases housing inspectors will not order the landlord to exterminate spiders, centipedes, silver fish, lady bugs, meal moths, common household ants in average numbers, or fleas if caused by tenants' pets. The housing inspector will instruct the tenant how they might manage the problem themselves. Property owners will always be required to exterminate cockroaches, termites, carpenter ants, bees, wasps, rats, mice, bats, raccoons, skunks, and squirrels in buildings where there are two or more units.
What to Look out For
If the building contains one dwelling unit, the occupant is responsible to maintain the dwelling unit free from rodent, pest, and insect infestation and is responsible for any extermination.
If the building contains two or more units or is a rooming house, the property owner is responsible to keep the premises free from all rodent, pest, and insect infestation and is responsible for any extermination.
What to Keep in Mind
It is important for property owners to be familiar with the applicable laws and regulations relative to pesticide use as set by the Department of Food and Agriculture's Pesticide Board in 333 CMR 13.
The Massachusetts Pesticide Control Act requires that all applicators in public and private places used for human habitation be licensed or certified. Residential properties with three or fewer apartments are exempt from this requirement.
Workers who must be licensed to apply pesticides include, but are not limited to: landlords, apartment building maintenance staff, office building grounds keepers, golf course superintendents, the staff or janitors of restaurants, schools, town halls, etc. Individuals using general (over the counter) pesticides must at a minimum obtain an Applicator License. Those needing to use State or Federally Restricted pesticides (available only from licensed dealers) must become certified.
The law not only covers chemicals used to control insects but also many other chemicals that are not generally thought of as pesticides. For example, a groundskeeper using a fungicide on the grass, or a weed and feed fertilizer herbicide mix, or an herbicide to control poison ivy must be licensed. Even spraying for bees requires a license. As a rule of thumb, if you are using chemicals to kill living things, you must be licensed.
Applications of disinfectants, algaecides, antimicrobials, paints, stains, wood preservatives, enclosed baits, and traps are exempt from the Pesticide Board Standards for Application at 333 CMR 13.
Of special importance is the regulation obligating pesticide applicators or their employers to give at least 48 hours pre-notification to occupants of all residential units prior to any routine commercial application of pesticides for the control of indoor household or structural indoor pests. The intent of notification is that individuals who must, or wish to, avoid exposure to the chemicals can make necessary arrangements. In addition, it gives the individual time to take precautions for sensitive individuals such as children, elderly citizens, pregnant women, and those with health problems. Notification will give occupants time to protect food, dishes, utensils, toys, medicines and pets.
You can obtain all the information about certification and licensing and pesticide use from:
Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources Pesticide Bureau
251 Causeway Street
Boston, MA 02114
Massachusetts has not been spared from the resurgence of bed bugs across the country. All 50 states are reporting outbreaks of these insects. Bed bugs were eradicated from most developed nations after WWII with the use of DDT. This pesticide is banned and no longer in use due to its toxic effect on the environment.
Bedbugs are becoming a problem once again, possibly spurred by the increase in international travel. If you are a renter who thinks that you have a bed bug infestation, you should contact your landlord immediately so they can get a licensed exterminator to handle the infestation.
If your landlord does not respond to your complaints or if you feel the extermination is not being addressed properly, you should contact the Leominster Board of Health. If you encounter bed bugs in a hotel or motel, in new or used furniture, in retail stores or any private or public environment, please report them to the Leominster Health Department.
For information about bed bugs, you can contact the Leominster Health Department or see the following resources:
- Protocols for the Prevention and Control of Bed Bugs in Multi Unit Housing
- Frequently Asked Question about Bed Bugs