Cockroaches arise in winter or summer

Cockroaches in the apartment: where do they come from and what helps?

If you spot a cockroach in your home, act quickly. The pests multiply rapidly and pose a great threat to your health.

Cockroaches: causes

It takes a lot of effort to fight cockroaches. For this reason, you should prevent them effectively so that they do not settle. The problem: The cultural followers find themselves in living spaces due to the most varied of causes and in most cases no longer leave them. The following list gives you a good overview of the causes of an infestation:

  • Room temperature: min. 20 ° C
  • sufficient humidity (e.g. bathrooms, kitchens)
  • Food stored in the open is available
  • Leftovers and rubbish are not disposed of
  • Pet bowls are not emptied and cleaned
  • there is poor hygiene
  • not adequately ventilated

Above all, the available sources of food and open waste represent a found food for the insects. They have an extremely good sense of smell and can therefore easily find available sources of food. You can get into the apartment through cracks, crevices and shafts if these are not adequately closed. Windows are rare, although many of the species can fly. More often, open doors are a way for the insects to get into the house. The animals can also be introduced:

  • brought in via food
  • in the luggage after vacation
  • Second hand electrical appliances

Note: Cockroach infestation can occur even in clean homes if the insects are given access to the interior.

Recognize infestation

In Central Europe there are specifically three cockroach species that are found in

to settle human dwellings:
  • German cockroach (Blattella germanica): 13 mm to 16 mm
  • Common cockroach (Blatta orientalis): 25 mm to 30 mm
  • American cockroach (Periplaneta americana): 35 mm to 45 mm

The American cockroach can fly, the German only a little. However, like the common cockroach, they mainly move around continuously. Cockroach infestation is generally quite difficult to detect. The animals are very light-shy and hide, for example, behind the refrigerator, in pieces of furniture or well-protected crevices in order to reproduce there. Some settlements grow to over 200 animals. Since they eat soft, rotted food such as organic waste and even textiles, leather or paper, the traces of the pests are clearly visible inside the condominium or rented apartment:

  • dead specimens
  • Insect eggs
  • Cocoons
  • Feces: 1 mm in size, reminiscent of ground coffee
  • Feeding damage
  • distinct stench

Once you spot the droppings that are always deposited in a track or dead cockroaches, you don't have to look far. These are usually in the immediate vicinity of the nest. An unpleasantly sweet smell is also noticeable, which, depending on the size of the settlement, is extremely penetrating. If you spot cockroaches during the day, the infestation is very advanced. In this case, the colony is extremely large and can no longer find enough space to hide during the day.

Note: Forest cockroaches (Ectobiinae) pose no threat to you and only appear sporadically in the apartment when they get lost in it. They die after a few days if they cannot find any rotting parts of the plant for food and they do not transmit diseases.

Cockroach hazard

You need to get rid of cockroaches as soon as possible because there is an immense health hazard. The animals transmit dangerous pathogens through their body excretions. These include, for example, gastrointestinal flu and tuberculosis. Parasites and worms can also be transmitted if you accidentally eat food that has come into contact with the cockroaches.

Get rid of cockroaches

To get rid of them, you have to take extensive measures. This includes not only eliminating causes, such as removing the trash or closing crevices, but also taking direct measures against the pests.

Glue traps

To contain the infestation somewhat, you can use glue traps and at the same time reduce the temperature in your premises. You won't stop the cockroach infestation with sticky traps, but you can use them to get an idea of ​​the possible size of the colony. Place these near where you suspect the animals or have spotted signs such as feces.

Professional pest control

As already mentioned, sticky traps are used for control purposes only. You should always contact an exterminator so that you can get rid of the cockroaches. Professional exterminators know exactly which measures and, above all, poisons should be used. Cockroaches can only be fought with heavy artillery. Depending on the size of the infestation and the number of hidden egg packets, complete control of the cockroaches can take several weeks or months.

A brief overview:

  • Destruction of adults: 2 to 3 weeks
  • existing egg packets can increase the duration
  • for the German cockroach: up to 3 months
  • in the cockroach: up to 6 months
  • for the American: 5 to 15 months

The exterminator must regularly check the infested premises over the period. If you are lucky, there are no more egg parcels left.

Prevent cockroaches

You should prevent further infestation while you are waiting. This is achieved through the following measures:

  • Store food closed
  • Take out rubbish regularly
  • Seal gaps, cracks and other openings
  • Always check baggage and equipment
  • good hygiene
  • Always rinse food bowls
  • Put away food and water bowls overnight
  • do not leave water in sinks or bathtubs

Cockroaches in rental apartments

As soon as cockroaches appear in rental apartments, you must contact your property manager or the landlord immediately. Depending on the size of the infestation, in accordance with Section 17 of the Infection Protection Act (IfSG), the responsible health department must also be notified if the cockroaches from your rented apartment could spread to the whole house. Since the infestation is a lack of rent, you do not have to take any measures yourself to initiate the removal. These costs must be borne by the landlord, as he must leave the apartment to the tenant in a "suitable condition" for the entire rental period according to Section 535, Paragraph 2 of the German Civil Code (BGB). If the tenant is responsible for the cockroach infestation and the landlord can prove this, he does not have to bear the costs himself. Such cases can be:

  • Tenant brought the cockroaches in
  • another tenant brought cockroaches
  • these have then spread to your rented apartment

In Switzerland, Article 256 of the Code of Obligations (OR) applies in the event of a pest infestation, in Austria Article 3 MRG Maintenance of the Tenancy Law Act (MRG). In Vienna, you must also observe the city of Vienna's cockroach ordinance. This stipulates by law that you must notify the landlord or property manager of any infestation by the insects.

Tenancy law

If that is not possible, your tenancy law will apply. Tenancy law specifies which measures are possible on your part. In addition, the tenancy law protects you from additional costs that arise if your landlord does not take any measures against the pests or is in default. Depending on the situation, the following measures are possible, which you should enforce with a lawyer as necessary:

  • Reimbursement of costs for accommodation
  • Apartment usually not habitable via pest control
  • Rent reduction
  • Legal action for the removal of defects (if the landlord fails to act)
  • Compensation claims
  • termination without notice

Note: If the rental agreement states that the landlord must take over the removal of the cockroaches, this clause is ineffective. This is also only possible if landlords can prove that tenants introduced the pests. If the tenant was not the trigger for the infestation, but the landlord vehemently opposes the assumption of costs or a rent reduction, you can contact the tenant protection association. This option is useful if you cannot pay a lawyer and do not understand the law yourself. The tenant protection association especially helps with the enforcement of claims to remedy defects, for example after an infestation by cockroaches.