This is a common refrain. So common at the moment that I feel I need to say something. For Donniaeus in the blog comments, for Nyjammin in the forums, for the folks on the yahoo group:
If you live somewhere where the law says your landlord is responsible for treating your home for bed bugs (which is true in NYC and many other places, some of which are listed in our FAQs), your landlord is not just responsible for hiring a PCO and making an attempt at treatment. Your landlord is responsible for getting rid of the bed bugs.
This post details some of the many reasons treatment may fail, and how to get around them.
We hear from a lot of readers whose landlords hire PCOs that don’t know how to get rid of bed bugs: they use inappropriate methods or insufficient ones, or they hire someone who comes once every month (which we know is not frequent enough–since eggs hatch in 10-14 days, you really need repeats at 10-14 day intervals), or comes once or twice without abating the problem. Often they will also treat only the units that have reported a problem–they should actually have the PCOs inspect all adjacent units in a cloverleaf pattern (over, under, and on all sides). And they should treat any which show signs of bed bugs, because some tenants may not be allergic to bed bugs and may have no idea they have them.
I know bed bugs can be hard to eradicate. I know some tenants will not want treatment and will tell the landlord to piss off. But you do not have to accept the situation. You can call your city’s health department or housing department, or both. In NYC, you call 311 and report bed bugs as a housing violation. The housing inspector comes and checks if you have bed bugs (you should save and show them any samples or other evidence you can find). Very few people in NYC call 311 to file a report, relative to those with bed bugs. This is largely because many landlords will be responsive to requests for help eradicating a pest. But for those who aren’t, you have to call in the big guns.
I know some folks are afraid of doing so also because they don’t want to piss off a landlord who might give them a bad reference in future. I’ve heard of many people hiring their own PCOs for this reason. If you’re not the only one infested, though, this may not work as a long-term strategy. You might pay a PCO to get rid of the bugs, and they might come back in time.
If you know of at least one neighbor in your building that you can talk to, discuss the issue. You probably are not the only one infested with bed bugs–especially if it seems like they are not going away. Point people to our FAQs. Share information about how some people are not allergic to bed bugs, and what some other signs are (black specks or black smudges in bed, red spots or pinpricks in the sheets, cast skins that look like bugs, and bugs and eggs). Some people who are not allergic to the bites may be infested and not even know it. More tips here on how to organize tenants for action.
If your landlord’s PCO is not killing the bed bugs and you still have them after several months of treatment, then you need to press for more. They may need to use other methods: a PCO who knows more about bed bugs, treatment of more units (and all at once), and even Vikane gas treatment of the entire structure. But you don’t have to put up with bed bugs forever.