Fox Chicago engages with the tenants vs. landlords bed bug blame game

by nobugsonme on August 12, 2008

in bed bug blame game, bed bug education, bed bugs, chicago, illinois, landlords and tenants

This is a fascinating little news study, a Fox segment focusing on how a Chicago landlord, Barry Chernovsky, and his tenants are blaming one another for bed bugs.

Let me clear things up for you all out there in Chicagoland, and everywhere else (because this debate is going on everywhere):

Mr. Landlord: it is not okay to order your janitor to spray pesticides commercial air freshener in people’s apartments. As you saw, this made a kid have a serious asthma attack. Frankly, it looked like he had a pesticide spray can, and it seems like maybe the implication was he was treating for bed bugs. (That’s a bit strange.)

While we’re on the subject, there are lots of reasons untrained and unlicensed people should not be treating bed bugs in other peoples’ homes. They can harm themselves and others, and they can also make bed bugs worse. It’s also illegal in many places.

Also, Mr. Landlord: it is not okay to declare everything is just hunky dory even if, as you claim, your building is 95% bed bug free after one and a half years of treatment. One and a half years is a long time. I am not sure how big this building was, but there were a number of tenants in this segment. Were they the only ones who still have bed bugs?

Mr. Tenant: the landlord is right to be pissed off that you dragged bed bug-infested refuse from the dumpster back into your home. You may not suffer from bed bug bites because you may not be allergic to them. Or maybe they did not reach you yet, so you think this whole bed bug thing is just a silly notion. However, you should trust your neighbors when they tell you they are suffering, badly. If you still don’t give a hoot, I suggest you play along and avoid being tarred and feathered by an angry mob of neighbors, your fellow tenants.

As an outside observer, I note that some of these wrong ideas and bad behaviors can be chalked up to ignorance, a lack of bed bug education, if you will. This kind of ignorance about bed bugs wastes money, wastes time, and makes people physically suffer.

But besides plain ignorance, it seems like there’s a serious lack of empathy here. It’s a good thing, then, that there are laws to protect us from neighbors and landlords who are lacking in empathy for us.

As Alderman Joe Moore told Fox, the law in Chicago says the landlord has to get rid of pests in the building. Bed bugs take a lot of work and a lot of knowledge.

However, the bed bug blame game, and air freshener, do nothing to help get rid of bed bugs.

I liked the dermatologist in this segment, who understood that bed bugs could “psychologically make you go bonkers.”

The City of Chicago Department of Public Health has its own bed bug FAQs.

Not bad, but it would help to tell people that a sizeable percentage of the population appears to not react to bed bug bites. Those folks are often the key to ridding a building of bed bugs: find out who has bed bugs and has no idea they have them, and you’re on your way. Letting people know that being bitten without reacting is a possibility is essential.


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