Bedbug evictions: Edmonton tenants evicted because they did not prepare for spraying

by nobugsonme on December 1, 2006 · 16 comments

in alberta, bed bug prep, bed bug treatment, bed bugs, canada, edmonton, government, housing laws, landlords and tenants, legal aspects of bed bugs

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.

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1 robert kirkland February 21, 2007 at 10:38 am

my name is Robert Kirkland iv been dealing with this bug PROBLEM for 18 months now. in two apartments.im on a mission to get help for one and all even the landlords.please contact email @ kirkland.robert@gmail.com

2 cherry January 8, 2008 at 5:33 am

I live not far from that apartment building. In July ’07 I was given very short notice (6pm the night before) with hardly any instructions or information on bed bugs. Of course I had little time to prepare and without any information on the bed bugs themselves I didn’t realize the severity of the situation. Sadly in Jan ’08 they are still a big problem in this building and I am still receiving very little support in my efforts from the landlords. I will be treated again sometime this week and I plan to take every precaution before moving to a new home. I can only hope at this point people in Edmonton can become more educated on bed bugs and we can see a better support from landlords.

3 nobugsonme January 8, 2008 at 10:01 am

Thanks for your comment, cherry. Pest control companies need to inform landlords about the necessity for preparing for bed bug treatment (and time to prep!), landlords need to give tenants time to do the prep, and tenants need to do it. There’s a lot can go wrong in that chain. Sadly, many people don’t get all this until they try fighting bed bugs for a while without putting all their energy in. Then, when they still have them, they get smart.

4 Gypsy May 12, 2008 at 2:46 pm

Mainstreet strikes again. 10730 -104 Street has been invaded by Bed Bugs. I first noticed one last week, crawl across my bathroom floor and thought nothing of it because in old apartments, bugs happen.

The next day, I spotted one crawling on my hallway wall, and killed it. Then found two more in my bedroom on the baseboard and killed those too. Then, after I got home from work, I flipped over my mattresses and removed all the bedding from my bed, and found several dead bugs on the mattress and in sheets.

I vaccumed all the baseboards, sprayed all the baseboards, mattress and box spring with RAID and vaccumed the bedding and mattress. I washed as many clothes as I could in hot water and put them in the dryer on hot. I bagged all the clothing in vac packs and put away dirty clothes. I moved my furniture away from the walls and packed a few household items into boxes. I washed all the dishes in the kitchen and wiped down the counters and fridge.

I am now sleeping on the main level on the couch which I check every night before bed. I check the bedsheet and blanket which was washed in scalding hot water a few times a day. I check each room nightly for the critters.

I’m moving into a new condo next month and am concerned my visitors will not be gone in time. I’ve been told that Ecopest sprayed my apartment today, and management let them in with no written warning.

So remember that no matter how clean your apartment is, you still chance an invasion from neighbouring apartments and suites.

5 nobugsonme May 13, 2008 at 12:09 am

Gypsy,
Sorry to hear about your plight.
It is an example of how easily bed bugs spread within neighborhoods.
When you move, you will want to take extreme precautions. Click the forums button at top right and start a thread in the forums if you ever want to strategize.

6 Gypsy May 21, 2008 at 12:13 pm

Oh I know. We are leaving all of the furniture behind and starting new. The only things I am taking are electronics (tv, computer, piano, etc). I’ve packed all the boxes, taped down all edges and corners and holes in the boxes so nothing can get in or out. Most of my clothes I will be throwing in the trash (clearly marked bed bugs) so that I don’t take anything with me. The neighbours in the suites next to me, either don’t realize they have bugs. Or simply don’t care. It’s sad to see.

7 Gypsy May 21, 2008 at 12:31 pm

Sorry for double posts. But do you think electronics are safe to move? I washed all my dishes in the kitchen and have packed them as well, and will rewash in the diswasher in the new place…so worried about taking them with me.

8 jwag November 10, 2008 at 6:14 pm

YES WE TALK.

i have been infested from fleas for over 1 year. I have tried a lot of thing until i got so discouraged.i DONT HAVE AN ANIMAL BUT I GOT IT FROM A PERSON WHO HAD AN ANIMAL

These bugs really have hurt me specially on my head and only last week i found sort of remedy on to it.i AM ALSO ALLERGIC TO INSECTS’S BITE.

first i have thrown away alot of furniture that were from past time. I hav written on my furniture CORRUPTED ON IT TO ADVISE PEOPLE NOT TO TAKE IT IN THE GARBAGES.I have started to wash may floors and walls and ceilings with mrs.Net AND alot of salt i mean a lot.The container will taste very salty. Nothing must be neglected.

I HAVE WASHED MY CLOTHES INTO A VERY SALTY CONTAINER ANS SOAP AND LEAVE MY CLOTHES IN THERE FOR SEVERAL DAYS. THEN WE CAN HANG THEM.
yOU BUY YOURSELF TEA TREE ESSENTIAL OIL AND YOU CAN WASH YOU HAIR FOR SEVERAL DAYS. THEN
YOU KNOW IF IT STILL BITE.
THEN YOU DRY YOUR CLOTHES.BEFORE TO WEAR IT AGAIN ON YOU YOU SPRAY YOUR CLOTHES WITH VINAGER ON IT ALL OVER or tea tree too. THEN IF YOU DONT GET BITTEN on that day THEN YOU KNOW YOUR CLOTHE IS SAFE.IF NOT IT MIGHT BE BETTER TO GET RID OF IT BECAUSE YOU DIDNT GET THE EGGS. IT TAKE 2-3 WEEKS AND A MONTH TO BE SURE YOU ARE OK. We should spray vinager on the furniture too .It helps a lot.

Vinager is a very cheap way to spray on your furniture and clothing but it is sometimes not enough. Tea tree is found to be the best and salt treatment. I have also tried the EUCALYPTUS ESSENTIAL OIL ON THE BITES ON THE HEAD. IT DOES SOME RELIEVE AND IMPROVEMENT.

Specially when it hurt. The bugs dont handle some smells as MINTH LAVENDER EUCALYPTUS TEA TREE VINAGER AN SALT.Afterlong time you migh find the keys to solve a problem. Avoid thos people that have pets and pretend that cats are clean by themselves and got their colliars because the cat might not have it but carry the eggs. Som are not affected in a house by those bugs which mean that out of 6 people in a house only one will be affected. For some unknown reasons it is that way.

My friend didnt washed her cat for 15 years but i got it form her house. She doesn’t have any symptoms nothing but i know her house is full of those eggs. One ay i got bitten from her directly and we were nto in her place. That means she carries it ans she pretends a cat doent need to be washed. I have seen cat played with dead birds outside. The cat come back home with his own dust….You see here is all my nightmare experience for over a year.

9 nobugsonme November 10, 2008 at 6:18 pm

jwag,

Fleas are very different from bed bugs. The solutions you recommend are not good ones for bed bugs in my opinion.

People who need help with bed bugs should read our FAQs and preferably get a professional in to treat who knows bed bugs and how to kill them. There is no need to live with them longterm.

Fleas, too: treatable. Please seek professional help. You do not have to live with this. If you rent, your landlord may be responsible to treat, depending on your location.

10 Pepest December 26, 2008 at 5:16 pm

Hi I’m a lanlord in San Francisco for a small residential hotel, at the beginning of the year 2 units notify me they have bedbugs I inmeditaley call pest control they explained me how the tenants should prepare the rooms, the tenants want inmediately resolution for the problem when I told me how they have to prepare their units and the treatments needed to be done several times then it was when they decide to no cooperate and no prepare their rooms properly . Pest Control told me the best thing to do was to treat all units including hallways so I gave all tenants including guest about 15 days to propely prepare their rooms I gave them information about how bedbugs can spread from Unit to unit and why it was so important to treat the whole hotel and what to do I even provide special covers for their beds
Did the tenants care???? for some of them Yes they did everything I told me but for some of them including the fisrt ones to call to complain they didnt prepare the room and inclusive one of them didn’t allow pest control to go to his unit.(they were to busy) unbeliavable.
Does the hotel still have bedbugs?? YES all year long I’ve been calling Pest control for those units that really care or get vacant but I never gonna end with these problem until all units fully cooperate, but they don’t even mention anything to me they said they haven’t had any problem anymore. DO i believe them?? NOOOO!!!Guest that stay in rooms next to them say they have been bitten. but the rooms where the tenants are do not have the problem??
I guess sometimes the only solution is with eviction so you can clear out the room and treat it properly. and I will still fighting against these problems until the law get harder with those tenants that do not care Bedbugs is Huge problem

11 nobugsonme December 27, 2008 at 5:35 am

Pepest,

Unfortunately, lots of people need to be educated about bed bugs. Since this is a problem that is only starting to be discussed, and since cases were rare until the last 5-10 years, your tenants may simply be uninformed about bed bugs and how serious the problem is.

Some landlords have held informational events for tenants, where pest professionals have explained the facts about bed bugs. This can really help, since it is essential for tenants to understand the depth of the problem.

Tenants need to know how many people do not react to bed bug bites — and so may have no idea they have them.

Ultimately, if landlords and tenants do not both do their part (and have the information they need to motivate them), it is extremely difficult to get rid of bed bugs.

12 dan gale December 29, 2008 at 9:25 pm

My Neighbour, was INFESTED, by Bed bugs. Her apt. was spotless, very clean. I’m a handicpped person , and i NEED to move OUT!!! Also other People on my floor have to get sprayed. My neighbour; Beside ME. Had to through-out ALL her Clothes, furniture, ETC… She was in Tears. I had 2 cats die of Heart-Attack. After this. And wonder if it was pestiscides. As, i had to leave my balcony door Open. But I Wasn’snt told bt manager or super; To close all MY DOORS & Windows. So I often wonder. is this what caused heart attacks on 2 cats 10 years old??? I need to Move Now Cause I’m Scared of this bed-bug Problem. Alot of other people had the same problem, Bugs. I can confirm this INFO. Butt I Need to GET OUT of HERE. Plus; They don’t have Scooter accesible doors. I pay 685.00. the girl upstairs with same apt. Pays 610.00. can U help; In Anyway… Ideas. I put in metro housing 6 years ago. & 10 year wait STILL… I Just need 1 bedroom apt. scooter Accsesible. (front Doors). i can get a letter from my doctor if necessary!!! culd the bed bugs; get me out sooner??? I’m really worried. and It’s Spreading throught the Building. Thank-you; Dan Gale 905-393-6597.

13 nobugsonme December 30, 2008 at 12:44 am

Hi Dan Gale,

I am so sorry you are going through this.

I am sorry that I cannot offer any help.

I have a few suggestions: first, is there an organization or social service agency that advocates for the disabled in your city? If so, you should contact them. They may have advice or know how to proceed. A social service agency may help also, since you need accommodations suitable for your scooter.

I hate to tell you this, but it is easy to move bed bugs. Your possessions will need to be decontaminated. Our FAQs give some details on this (washing and drying on hot will work for most clothing and linens, thick or fragile items may need another approach). The last thing you want to do is move the bed bugs to a new place.

Please come to the forums if you need additional support, though you will need local advice related to your housing situation.

Finally, I don’t think it’s a good idea to post your phone number on a website. Let me know if you want it removed.

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