Think you have mice in your apartment? We share the strategies to get rid of them, talking to your landlord, tenant’s rights, and how to protect your unit from mice.
Finding out that you have mice in your apartment is an unsettling discovery. Not only do they carry all sorts of bacteria and disease; knowing they are lurking about in your walls or pantry is just plain unsettling.
Table of Contents
Why it is Much Harder to Get Rid of Mice in a Multi-Unit Building
Apartment buildings are one of the hardest places to get rid of mice since you are not in complete control of the situation. The mice could be living in any number of other apartments, common areas, or hiding places you don’t have access to.
While you can do your best to keep your own home clean and secure. It’s pretty hard to make sure your neighbors keep up the same standards of care.
So to protect yourself, you need to do your best not to allow your apartment to be a little safe haven for mice!
Before You Move In
Apartment complexes are usually packed in tight, with rows of tenants packed together in their units. Any area that has a high population of people living closely together is subject to being a haven for mice and other rodents.
Apartments also typically have many unoccupied areas such as common rooms or empty apartments which make it an ideal location for a family of rodents to move right in.
So even before moving into your apartment, be sure to check the entire apartment to make sure it is rodent-free. It’s much easier to mouse-proof your home before it is full of your stuff.
1. Inspect absolutely everything.
From the cupboards to cabinets, to even your dishwasher; all make great entry points and hiding places for mice.
Remember the previous tenant may have just ignored the problem, so don’t assume just because the apartment looks clean on the surface, there isn’t a problem lurking just behind the kitchen walls.
2. Look for any points of entry.
Two common ways mice can get inside your building are through holes in the walls joining apartments or through appliance hoses. Try checking behind any existing furniture or the connection for your laundry machines. Remember a mouse only needs a hole ¼ of an inch wide to crawl through.
Not only can these pesky rodents gain entry through the walls, but they’ve also been known to climb through holes used for pipe fittings used to connect your oven and even your dishwasher!
Make sure you’ve checked these appliances in and around any fittings looking for cracks and holes. Ensure any holes are sealed with steel wool and silicone.
3. Check the building’s history.
Ask your landlord and any other tenants you may know if mice have ever been a problem in the building. This will allow you to be fully prepared and take preventative measures before you move all of your belongings in.
4. Take action quickly.
If you find any evidence of rodents in your apartment, make sure to address the issue immediately.
Rodent infestations are easier to handle if you react to them immediately. Leaving the mice for a later time could cause a large rodent infestation to occupy the building, resulting in dangerous amounts of disease spreading like wildfire in the tight, compact spaces of the units.
Identify The Rodent In Your Apartment
Before you start trying to get rid of the mice in your apartment. First, make sure it is really mice. Any number of rodents are known to find sanctuary in our homes. It could be raccoons, rats, squirrels, or something else entirely.
Here are the tell-tale signs of a mouse infestation:
Scratching Or Squeaking Noises.
You may be able to hear the squeaking of rodents through the walls, especially at night when they’re active.
This is the most obvious sign of a mouse living with you. Their droppings are tiny though, about ¼ of an inch. They resemble little pellets and are a sign that the rodents in your unit have a source of food somewhere nearby.
A large infestation of mice will emit a musky odor, which will become apparent the longer you leave it. You may even be able to smell urine, as it will be strongest in the areas where they are living, especially after some time.
You may find small holes in bags of rice, cereal, or cookies as the mice have found a new food source. Or scraps of paper, boxes, or other nesting sources in the corners of your house.
I Definitely Have Mice in my Apartment – Now What Should I do?
The first order of business is to notify your landlord.
By law, your landlord needs to make sure your apartment is in a safe and sanitary condition for you to live in. A mouse-infested apartment does not meet these guidelines.
Addressing It With Your Landlord
It is imperative that you discuss the situation with your landlord as it does not only involve your unit. If you have mice, it is more than likely the rest of the tenants in the building will have the same problem. Mice roaming around in the apartment building are a serious danger.
By getting rid of mice from the entire building, it protects everybody. If you never get to the source of the problem, you will be fighting a losing battle in the long run.
What are a Tenant’s Rights?
Most states have official guidelines stating these rules in black and white so there should never be a question of whether a rodent problem is the responsibility of the landlord or tenant.
At least in the United States, it is the landlord’s duty. For example in the state of California, the Department of Consumer Affairs insists that all landlords must repair any problems that make the rental unit uninhabitable. It goes on to state the specific conditions that make a rental unit legally habitable include:
Clean and sanitary buildings, grounds, and appurtenances (for example, a garden or a detached garage), free from debris, filth, rubbish, garbage, rodents, and vermin.
You can find information on many states’ tenant’s rights by searching by the state on the US Department of Housing and Urban Development website. Other countries should have similar regulations to ensure landlords keep up their end of the bargain.
What If My Landlord Doesn’t Take Action?
If your landlord does not take action to correct the problem, contact your local government agency and arrange for a building inspection. Owners will be subject to fines for not complying with the law.
Be sure to notify your landlord of your intent to file a report, since this may “inspire” them to correct the problem sooner rather than later.
How To Keep Mice Out Of Your Apartment
Once you have notified your landlord, you also need to do your part to get rid of the mice. We suggest a 4 step approach: Clean, Protect, Catch and Repel.
If your unit becomes inhospitable to the mice, at least they will move to a messier unit and hopefully stay out of yours until the problem can be fully resolved.
Steps You Can Take to Get Rid of The Critters
Now that you know how to spot a family of mice living in your unit, there are many steps you can take to drive them away.
1. Clean. Keeping your unit clean is the first step.
t is essential that you clean up your unit before even starting the process of getting rid of your pest. This includes making all of your food inaccessible to any family of rodents you have.
Don’t allow crumbs to accumulate on your kitchen floor, as those very crumbs could very well be a long-term source of food for the family of mice living with you.
Clean up any areas where water may be leaking, as it may be a watering hole for mice.
Organizing your unit and removing objects from the floor does not only help you spot any hidden mice that may be living around you, but it’s also imperative for you to have a clear staging area for when you’re setting traps.
2. Protect. Seal off the entry points into your apartment
Now that your room is clean, check the walls of your living area for holes or any entry point where mice could get inside. Even tiny holes should be covered, as mice are known to be able to twist through small holes compared to their body.
They will also be able to chew through and widen these holes, inviting even more rodents to join. Caulking or steel wool is an effective means of covering these entry points.
3. Catch. Set snap traps to catch any existing mice.
Snap traps are cheap, effective, and less dangerous than poison. Set them around your unit near heaters, crevices, and the wall near the water piping, as mice have been known to feed off the moisture coming off those appliances.
Not only will the trap kill the mice quickly, but it also won’t allow them to crawl away and die elsewhere, causing unfortunate odors and a mess.
See our favorite snaps traps here.
4. Repel. Use repellents to make your apartment less inviting.
If you cannot seal off some areas between your apartment and the common areas, use mouse repellents in these areas, so the mice will keep moving along rather than entering your apartment.
Peppermint oil, cloves, and mothballs have all been known to effectively repel mice.
The Bottom Line
Rodents living with you in your unit are a serious problem that, if left unattended, could possibly turn out to be a full-blown infestation.
Though they are difficult to get rid of, by keeping your unit sanitary and taking the necessary precautions against them, keeping them away from your unit should be fairly easy if you follow the advice on this site.
For more tips on getting rid of mice, check out our pages on prevention or setting mouse traps.