I was taken aback by the (albeit informal) poll currently running on Bed Bug City:
Bedbug City Poll
How did you deal with bedbugs at your home?
I moved out. 30.8%
I called an exterminator. 23.1%
I bought chemicals and applied on my own 19.2%
I discarded the mattress and most of the clothes. 11.5%
I do nothing. 7.7%
My landlord took care of the infestation. 7.7%
Total votes: 26
I realize the poll is pretty basic and unscientific, but it is still interesting. I don’t think “I moved out” and “I called an exterminator” should be exclusive answers. If you’re treating your bed bugs (and yes, if renting in most localities, the landlord must pay) when you move, as Windycitymike did, you have a much better shot. I know that isn’t always possible.
However, I have a hunch that the poll reflects the truth to some degree, and many people are fleeing bed bug apartments without treatment. In a lot of cases, I suspect people are probably getting the ball rolling, by reporting bed bugs and requesting treatment, but they’re not seeing results fast enough, or at all. So they’re fleeing with minimal treatment, which many landlords would welcome as an opportunity to not do anything further, because “no one is going to care.”
I am not saying those folks should necessarily stay in those apartments, especially if the landlord doesn’t get the whole bed bug vibe, or hires a crappy PCO.
On the other hand, as we’ve discussed elsewhere, it’s really hard to move without bed bugs. If you can get your landlord to treat them, then it’s worth fighting and living in a bed bug free home. Your next apt. may already be infested, or, more likely, you may take the bugs with you and they will set up home there. It is possible to get out bug free, and people here have done it, at great personal expense.
If many or most people are moving rather than dealing with bed bugs, then we are going to see bed bugs spreading at an even more alarming rate.
And specifically for New Yorkers, if you are going to ditch your infested apartment, because your landlord really is botching it, or the PCO is lousy, you really should make sure you reported the bugs to 311 before you moved. That way, at least the city has a violation of bed bugs listed for the apartment, and someone will at least be checking in to see if they’re gone.