Reader Email: I Have a Mouse Problem

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The Email: Dear Off-Campus Housing, when my roommates and I moved in to my apartment everything seemed great. However, we recently spotted a mouse in our kitchen and have noticed mouse droppings in other areas around the apartment. How should we manage this situation? 

Off-Campus Living's Response: Mice are in a constant search for food, warmth and shelter, and your apartment usually can support all of their basic needs. In the fall and winter, when weather starts getting colder, it is more likely that they will try to get inside your apartment for warmth. Pest extermination is the responsibility of the landlord or property manager, but as a tenant, you also need to do your part to prevent mice from entering your apartment, otherwise they will continue to come back. Here are some important tips:

Stop feeding them. You probably aren't intentionally feeding the mice, but if the food is out there they will eat it. Start by deep cleaning your apartment. Vacuum and mop all floors, clean your counter tops and cupboards. You might not see the crumbs, but now is the time to get rid of them. Deep clean now, and make sure the clean up after every meal as there are not any leftovers out for the mice.

Dispose of your trash properly. When your trash bags are full, take them to the designated plastic trash bins with covers. Do not ever leave bags of trash piled up in your apartment or leave them on your deck...mice love to eat your left overs, even if they are in the trash. 

Seal up your food. Now that food isn't being left out, the mice are going to try to find a way into your food. Plastic is your friend. Make sure your trash has a heavy plastic bin around it. Inspect the food in your pantry to make sure that none of it has been chewed into. Seal your food in plastic bags or plastic wear. Check regularly to make sure the mice can't get in. 

Set a trap. Give the mice some food, but this time make sure it's set in a trap for them. I recommend the kind that are completely enclosed. This way you don't have to worry about stepping on it and you don't have to see the dead mouse once it's been set off. Your landlord or property manager should provide traps for you.

Talk to your neighbors. If you live in a multi-unit building, talk to your neighbors. Make them aware of the issue and ask them to take similar steps so your entire building is no longer mouse friendly.

Eliminate their entry points. This one you're going to need some help with. Call your landlord and property manager and tell them that you have a mouse problem. Ask them to help you out by making sure the apartment is weather-tight. Look yourself for any holes or other entry points the mice might have and work with your landlord to seal them.

More drastic measures: If these aren't working for you, you might need to get more extreme. You have a right to a living space free of pests. Ask your landlord to hire an exterminator to get rid of the rodents. If your landlord is unresponsive to your request, call your local Inspectional Services Department (ISD) and ISD will order your landlord to exterminate.

Remember, making your apartment pest free is not something your landlords can accomplish by themselves. You, as a tenant, have a right to a pest free home but you also are responsible for keeping the apartment in such a way that mice and other pests are not attracted to it. If you create a home for them they will come. If you make your home unwelcoming to them, they will leave you alone. Mice usually follow food. Take away their food and they will find somewhere else to live.

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