The Brattleboro Reformer notes that bed bugs can be considered “a disaster, no different from a fire,” at least according to Brattleboro, Vermont officials.
Landlord Ron Gaida applied to the town of Brattleboro, Vermont for a low-interest loan to help him treat his 8-unit rental building for bed bugs.
Last week, the Selectboard approved the loan: $3000 for three years at 1.62% interest.
The Brattleboro Reformer notes that
The loan came through the town’s Rental Housing Improvement Program (scroll down once on the page), which assists landlords in making sure their buildings are in compliance with building, fire and health codes.
The loan program also helps to pay for items such as new furnaces, windows or insulation, to make buildings wheelchair accessible, to update wiring or plumbing, to remove asbestos or lead and to conduct structural repairs.
Because Gaida’s building was in violation of the town’s health code, he qualified for the program.
Gaida said he had already paid one extermination company $2,100 at the beginning of the year to rid his building of bed bugs.
“It didn’t work out,” he said.
Gaida reported that the failure was due to two factors: the pest control operator did not do the “necessary follow-up treatments,” and he did not have full tenant cooperation.
Gaida is going to treat with a new company which is going to “bomb” the building (once it is evacuated by tenants). He says the company will then follow up once a month with “follow-up treatments.”
I found the terminology troubling; we know “bug bombs” don’t work to get rid of bed bugs and actually can make your problem worse. It is possible that the pest control firm is doing something which does work, but the price tag of $3000 sounds too low for sulfuryl fluoride gas fumigation of an 8-unit structure — one method which does involve evacuation and tenting of a structure.
The most positive aspect of this article was the recognition by the loan coordinator of the problem bed bugs pose for the entire community:
During the Tuesday night meeting, Byron Stookey, the program’s loan coordinator, said the whole town should be concerned about bed bugs.
“It’s a recent epidemic,” he said.
“We see the situation as a disaster no different from a fire,” said Stookey, reading from a letter presented to the board. “It spread like a fire to the rest of the building. And, like a fire, it could easily spread elsewhere.”
Stookey said the infestation was a disaster for the landlord and his tenants and warned it could also be a disaster for the community.
He said bed bugs are not just a problem in low-income neighborhoods.
“It’s happening everywhere,” said Stookey. “First-class hotels, cruise ships, fancy homes. It calls for a community response.”
People with bed bugs understand they are experiencing a kind of natural disaster. Other people rarely do, and so I applaud Stookey’s statement.
If a tornado had swept through Brattleboro, homeowners and landlords would likely be offered assistance through the federal government.
People balk at the idea of such assistance for people suffering from bed bugs.
However, you can insure your home against fires, floods, and theft. You can’t insure against bed bugs.