Why building managers must notify residents that their building has bed bugs

by nobugsonme on December 11, 2008 · 14 comments

in bed bug epidemic, bed bugs, landlords and tenants, ohio, spread of bed bugs

A news story from WBNS in Columbus demonstrates why that city needs better bed bug policies.

First, consider how bed bugs spread amongst neighbors at Bollinger Towers, 750 N. High Street:

Charlotte Hyajneh-Simpson thought she was lucky when her neighbor gave her his new carpet sweeper to keep.

“I started using the sweeper and then I started feeling these bites on me,” Hyajneh-Simpson said.

She told her neighbor, John Rand, about the bites, who said that his neighbor just had his apartment exterminated for bed bugs.

“They went next door and said, ‘Oh my God,’ and they ran out of there because there were so many (bed bugs) in there,” Rand said.  “It was terrible.  When the guy moved his furniture around, you could just pick it up with your hands.”

Hyajneh-Simpson said she was bitten on her arm and leg.

Neighbors sometimes share their homes, their possessions, as well as walls.  Bed bugs can spread in any of those ways.

The Columbus Metropolitan Housing Authority could help reduce this “sharing” of bed bugs.  But its current policies prevent this:

[Hyajneh-Simpson] said that she was upset the Columbus Metropolitan Housing Authority never told her there was a problem, but CMHA said that it only notifies the tenants who are affected to protect their privacy.

Meanwhile, bed bugs spread.

Maybe building managers (whether they are single-building landlords, or a city housing authority) could warn other tenants about the presence of bed bugs in the building, and in attached units, without necessarily declaring which units are affected.

Or maybe we could all get past the idea that having bed bugs is shameful.  The only shame, in my mind, is not telling others that they are being exposed, and not treating infestations thoroughly and promptly.

Another article claimed Columbus apartment building owners are spending $1.5 million a year on bed bugs.

This story demonstrates how better bed bug policies could help reduce the costs of bed bugs to landlords and tenants.  The bottom line is bed bugs spread in buildings.  Neighbors need to know about the risks.  What would happen if schools did not notify parents that a child in class had head lice?   Just as parents need to be notified about head lice, neighbors need to be notified about bed bugs, a much more troublesome and costly problem, to landlords and tenants alike.

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1 parakeets December 11, 2008 at 4:46 pm

Living in a building where management has NOT notified tenants, I heartily agree with the point Nobugs raises here that they absolutely must.

If tenants are not notified, things happen such as when a tenant in my building discarded a brand new mattress in our dumpster (I wonder why!) and another tenant dumpster-dove and took the same mattress right back into the building. Well that’s an easy way to spread bedbugs from one apartment to another!

Tenants who are not notified can unknowingly move and spread bedbugs to other buildings or to places of work, parties they attend, etc. Tenants who are not notified and who don’t react to bites can let an infestation build to the point where the bedbugs are living in the walls where it is nearly impossible to treat, and very expensive at the least.

There is a short-term way to deal with bedbugs that will make the problem much worse in the long run. Landlords are thinking of the cost of repeated treatments, the cost of lost rent, the difficulty of replacing tenants, the difficulty of getting new tenants who will move into a building known to have bedbugs, the difficulty of selling the building … so I don’t think the problem is going to go away without legistlation.

2 Itchy-Scratchy December 11, 2008 at 6:16 pm

I also live in a building where the landlord did not inform tenants of an infestation. Additionally, the landlord instructed infested tenants to keep quiet about the issues.

The landlord claimed that he was concerned about inciting panic and losing tenants. What resulted was the spread of bed bugs (BBs) to at least 10 additional apartments.

The success of BB treatments relies a great deal on the tenants, who shoulder the burden of cleaning, packing and on-going protocols such as bagging items and vacuuming. Without tenant support, the BB problem cannot be effectively solved. It is time that landlords understand that engaging the tenants — not only to follow proper protocol, but to support one another throughout the process — will actually FACILITATE the treatement process.

I agree with parakeets that legislation is likely necessary to force landlords to disclose BB problems.

3 myLifeinZiplocs December 11, 2008 at 9:41 pm

YES they should. I live in a 2 apartment building, and I told one of the 20 somethings who live upstairs to keep an eye out and my landlord was not happy. I had to explain to him that it is important for them to know because if they get infested and don’t check forever then it will end up costing him more money. I have to couch it in terms of money to get him to understand. It really made me mad.

He is being somewhat cooperative, but overall he has been significantly less than proactive. It’s really frustrating.

4 nobugsonme December 11, 2008 at 10:05 pm

Hi All!

Thanks for your comments.

Educating landlords about _why_ tenants need to know does seem crucial for the reasons you’re all describing.

5 Rich December 12, 2008 at 8:27 am

When property owners who knowingly rent bed bug infested units to unsuspecting tenants start being held financially responsible for damages suffered by the tenant, things will change.

6 nobugsonme December 13, 2008 at 1:32 am

Rich, this seems very true.

7 bedbugjean December 18, 2008 at 10:13 am

I have spoken to a few new tenants where I live…a senior high rise…and they were not told there were bed bugs in the the buildings here. They were only told that the high rise buildings has issues. These recent tenants are not very happy at all. Bed bugs has been an issue since 2005! We are in between phase 2 and 3 of two PCO companies exterminating us.

Management should be liable to tell applicants of the situation of bed bugs. Until that happens this issue will never be solved.

Also, dumpster diving is very common here and has aggravated the process of proper bed bug removal. Management feels it is not their job to police the dumpsters or the people who take things from them. Therefore, Management is not fully cooperating either. I am thoroughly disgusted!

8 nobugsonme December 18, 2008 at 3:26 pm

bedbugjean,

This sounds like a fairly common scenario.

I think building management have an ethical responsibility to warn tenants bed bugs are present, and few do.

Some people may be filing lawsuits on the basis of not having been notified, and if they do well, we may see a change in this behavior.

9 bastardbug December 18, 2008 at 3:27 pm

Oh, man… I can only imagine how much easier my and so many others’ lives would be right now had my former apartment’s management alerted tenants that the rotting flesh smell on the first floor was an enormous bed bug infestation. HOW is that legal? If only someone on the national level would declare bbs a public health issue…

10 nobugsonme December 18, 2008 at 3:44 pm

bastardbug,

I am not sure it’s entirely legal. But we probably need some lawsuits to test this.

Not that I am encouraging anyone to sue. And of course, I am certainly not a lawyer.

11 VMP December 22, 2008 at 3:06 am

I already posted this on the thread but here goes….
I agree with this. Matter of fact I agree with it so much that I think it should be made law that landlords should have to inform tenants of every building even if it is only one apartment in that complex (agree that they don’t need to disclose which tenant to protect their privacy)…I know my neighbors visit each other a lot and this is an obvious way of spreading them.

Not to mention the parents of my complex who let their children play by the dumpsters and jump on the torn up infested mattresses. EWWWW Obviously the tenant of those children got them.

I would probably have been spared some grief from a third run in with them if the LL had informed me that he was treating 3 of my conjoined neighbors a month prior to me telling him I noticed I had them again.

12 grossed out January 25, 2009 at 7:08 am

my god!!!…ive herd of the saying”don’t let the bed bugs bite” but never thought they actualy did. my friend had them but i never thought it would be like this. i was uneducated about these pests that have attacted my children. and probably myself although i didn’t swell like they did. now i know and i want the world to know also.

i live in a building and want to tell all of the tenants because i am finding out that no one was informed of previous out breaks and belive every one should be looking for the bugs especialy if we are tring to get rid of them. im am so creeped out i threw out all my matresses and am buying blow up beds to feel a bit cleener/safer and hopfully will beable to sleep at night.

will i get in legal trouble by providing information to other tenants about bed bugs? i plan to make a general informational letter to every one…no spacifics of who may or may not have but simply for awareness and hopes that every one will check thier place and put it under thier door. i just don’t want to get them back a few months down the raod.

should schools be notified?
could it have been brought from there?
i used to let the children from the building come over to play at my place cause they all(aprox 8 in total) used to play in the halls, including the land lords children. i din’t think they should play in the halls so they started comming to my place now i find out i have bed bugs. i have been talking to other tenants that i know and i herd rummors of other tenants children having bites on them one of wich i was letting play over.

for the last week i have told the children they cannot play over.after im done cleening they will still not be allowed over.
is it mean of me to say these children are nolonger allowed to come and play at my place?
can the begs spread anyways?, because they play in the halls,litteraly roll around, going from third floor to bottom, bring thier toys into the hallway, its like thier “rec room”. and the landloard says she ant tell them not to play in the hall.(its her kids in the hall too) gggrrr

13 really bugged March 24, 2009 at 9:54 pm

I face a similar situation as grossed out – Do we need to inform the school – what abput books the children bring home from school and return it to school library ?
I live in an apartment building in NY with 19 apartments on each floor and 16 floors in each bulding – currently from what I have been hearing there seem to be about 3 aprtments on each floor which seem to be infested – The management has not sent a circular to every apartment informing the tenants of the problem in the bulding. The management of the bulding have appointed a PCO but when he came home he only sprayed on the bed and couch – he did not provide any further instructions to me and said that he would be back in 2 weeks. since I was unaware of what should be done as soon as I goot to know of bedbugs in the house I threw away one of the mattresses and moved stuff around which I think has caused the bedbugs to spread all over
Questions I have:-
Should I trust the PCO with his job or to venture out and try to work on the problem myself?
My son is still getting bites 4 days into the treatment – I called up the management if the exterminator coould come again and was informed then they would come only after 2 weeks from the first treatment- what should I do now – I am scared that they will spread all over in the apartment if I do not act myself – at the same time I am not sure how to treat the infestation myself!
I have a computer printer and a bookshelf in the childrens room which is infested – I was not given any instructions on how to deal with the other stuff in the bedroom – the wait till the next visit by PCO seems endless. What should I do bag everything? and then what?
The flooring in the apartment is wooden tiles atleast 25 years old with lots of visible cracks in them and spaces between floors and walls – I cannot physically caulk all of this- Can I really get rid of the bugs with all these various issues?
I called 311 but was informed that if the landord was dealing with the problem then there really was no complaint- how do I handle this
I do not have the time to eduacate all the neighbors – shouldnt the management be doing that?
Shouldnt the complete building be treated as a whole – How do I convince the management to do that – they have the attitute that ht eexterminator is being sent to your apartment which should be enough?
I feel all the efforts that I take would be a waste and will not rid the apartment untill the whole building is treated!
Please advice!

14 nobugsonme March 25, 2009 at 1:21 am

really bugged,

Please post your message to a new thread on our forums. Myself and many others will respond there. You are unlikely to get as many readers here on the comments of an old post.

Here’s where you go:

http://bedbugger.com/forum/

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