Centraljersey.com reported Thursday on a conflict between tenants and landlord in a Princeton, New Jersey apartment building which has a problem with bed bugs. Tenant Bob Carlson of 205 Nassau Street has been suffering from bed bug bites for months, and claims the whole building is infested.
Princeton Health Officer David Henry has confirmed there is a “bed bug situation” at 205 Nassau Street, and
Mr. Henry said it was the landlord’s responsibility to notify current and prospective tenants of the infestation, and eradicate it through a licensed exterminator.
Meanwhile, landlord Sanford Zeitler did not seem to know a lot about bed bugs:
Asked what his plan was to get rid of the bed bugs given the difficulty in eradicating such infestations, Mr. Zeitler challenged the notion that they were difficult to eradicate.
”I’m not sure the department of health knows much about bed bugs,” Mr. Zeitler said. Of Mr. Henry, he said, “he’s the senior health officer, you might ask him what he knows about bed bugs.”
Asked if, as a landlord, he had dealt with prior bed bug infestations, Mr. Zeitler said “no.”
Tenants Booker Williams and Bob Carlson found notices of the housing violation attached to their doors, along with prep instructions:
Earlier this week, Mr. Williams and Mr. Carlson found a “FinalNotice sic of Violation” signed by Princeton health department Senior Environmental Health Specialist Randy Carter on their apartment doors. “IN VIOLATION OF ORDINANCE 2009-01 Article IV Housing Section 1b. Observed an infestation of bed bugs in your living space etc.” the notice reads.
The notice, a copy of which was supplied to the Packet, directs tenants to discard and remove from the building furniture “that is severely infested,” wash all clothing “in hot water and dry cloths in high heat,” and clean out decorations and clutter that could harbor bed bugs.
Unfortunately, it is not always easy for tenants to determine whether furniture is “severely infested,” and throwing furniture out can be unnecessary and can mean the problem spreads further to neighbors.
The article also notes that tenants who could afford to have already moved out; this also means that if tenants were not scrupulous about eliminating bed bugs from their possessions, they may now be spreading to new buildings.
Eliminating bed bugs from a multi-unit building requires that the problem be detected early, and treated aggressively and thoroughly and repeatedly, until the bed bugs are completely gone. Tenants, landlords, and staff need to cooperate, and advice needs to be obtained from knowledgeable and experienced sources.