We know it is important for people in bedbug-infested units to follow certain procedures in order to prepare for pest control to spray and treat their apartments. We also know how time consuming, difficult, and costly preparations can be.
But now the Edmonton Sun reports that residents of several units of a bedbug-infested building in Edmonton, Alberta have been evicted because they did not prepare their apartments to be treated, including washing and drying clothes on hot, then bagging them, as well as removing cleaned furniture from the apartment:
Capital Health says they were unable to successfully fumigate the suites at Virginia Arms, 10615 107 St., three times because some residents didn’t clear everything out – including clothes and furniture – as required.
Now, the building’s landlord says enough is enough.
Judy Friesen, office manager at Mainstreet Equity, said tenants were given written advanced warning about the need to clear their suites out for cleaning and that the notice said they would be evicted if they failed to comply.
“None of them prepared the suites as they were asked to, therefore the only way to deal with it was to follow through with what we threatened,” she said, adding Capital Health had nothing to do with the eviction order.
Getting ready for fumigation meant removing pre-cleaned furniture from the suite and double-bagging clothes which also had to be washed so the bugs would have nowhere to hide.
Friesen declined to comment on how many tenants are affected or if they will be allowed to move back into the building after the bed bugs are successfully eradicated.
“Fumigation” is one of those words people often misuse in regards to bedbugs. I’d be interested to know if Capital Health was going to tent and fumigate using Vikane gas or some other substance, which works for bed bugs, or if they were going to “fumigate” with bombs, which doesn’t.
I am also not sure how thoroughly they really expected tenants to “pre-clean” their furniture, since getting bedbugs out of infested stuffed furniture, or the cracks in wooden furniture, can be nearly impossible, especially for people who don’t know what they’re dealing with. “It looks clean” doesn’t apply here.
Evicted resident Yom Noch said she is beside herself with worry over where she and her family will go.
The Cambodian immigrant lives in the suite with her husband and 22-year-old son, who is disabled.
“We have no place to go,” she said in broken English, fighting back tears. “Can someone please help me? I’ve looked around and around, but there’s no place (available).”
Capital Health was there last on Nov. 23 and residents received their eviction notices on Monday telling them to be out by noon on Dec. 12.
Capital Health last visited on the 23rd and they were evicted on the 30th. I’d like to know how much time they had to do all this, and how much education tenants were given about the problem. It sounds like they’ve had a few weeks total, which is not bad, and to be fair, Capital Health did come in three times.
You don’t want to delay treatment, but people need time to deal with their stuff and somewhere to put it. Lots of people work full-time and some even work a second job. One of the evicted couples has a disabled adult son. There needs to be some sort of social services provided to help people prepare for treatment–folks who are disabled, elderly, out of shape, or burning the candle at both ends can’t always handle this, and quickly.
It also sounds like a big part of the problem was the tenants who did not comply did not get it: the process, its importance, or where they were supposed to take their stuff.
Another evicted resident who didn’t want to be named says the tenants feel they are being treated unfairly.
“We didn’t move the furniture properly for them to spray but they didn’t come and help us as to where we were going to put our furniture and clothes and everything,” she said. “They just said ‘You didn’t do it… Out!'”
She also said she can’t believe Mainstreet would evict people just before Christmas.
“Imagine all these people out on the street at this time of year,” she said. “I guess they just think we’re all a bunch of lowlifes and don’t deserve any better.”
Environmental Health officer Maria Precup said bed bugs are a “major” problem in Edmonton and that getting rid of them in multi-unit dwellings requires a team effort from all tenants.
“The tenant must comply,” she said. “If you don’t have everything prepared, there’s no point in us going in.”
One question: this sounds like private housing; is Capital Health = the city health department? Is pest control in Edmonton provided by the city government, or overseen by them? Here in NYC, the city only takes care of pests in city-owned housing. Perhaps if things were centralized, quality would not vary so much. (But then again, maybe it would be lousy.)
The bottom line is that I am impressed with Capital Health on one level: they get the need to treat entire buildings, and they get the need for proper treatment.
However, I am not sure about their methodology. Where were tenants supposed to take that stuff? Was it somewhere the furniture would not infest additional homes? (If you’re treating an entire building, then the act of carting the stuff out is not as horrifying as it is if only some units are being treated, but if they were removing furniture that may contain bed bugs from the building, that is highly risky as far as spreading them further.
And I understand the landlord’s the one responsible for the eviction, not Capital Health. So did the landlord clearly educate the tenants both about bed bugs and about the procedures? Did they offer to answer any questions? Did they provide enough time and make it clear where people were supposed to put this stuff?
Or did they create a really difficult and confusing situation for tenants, some of whom could not afford to find a place for their stuff, or organize its removal?
Public education is a major need everywhere in North America, since most people even in infested cities know little or nothing about bed bugs until they become infested. And even then, so much bad information is circulating, it’s hard to know what to think. We need education campaigns. We need social services to support people in this situation and help them. Obviously, housing codes have to protect both protect compliant tenants from non-compliant ones, as well as from negligent landlords. It’s impossible to know what really happened here, based on this article, and I do not doubt that both sides may be at fault.
The last thing these folks needed before the holidays was to be chucked out on the street. And if you’re too cold-hearted to worry about that, let’s not forget, bedbugs make us interdependent on one another. Now you’ve got some families on the street. The last thing Edmonton needs is several families with bedbugs moving in with friends or relatives, selling their furniture to second-hand dealers, or staking out space in a homeless shelter that just may be between bedbug infestations. The problem will move with them and with their stuff.