BB identification, I'm freaking out!(16 posts)
I just moved into a newly renovated apartment this past December. New walls and ceilings, the hardwood floors were treated. This past weekend I found a bed bug on a sweater in my closet. I haven't been bitten that I know of, though when I first moved in my boyfriend found a couple of red spots on his arms which *could* have been bites, but who knows.
I don't seem to have been bitten since moving in, though I haven't been around the apartment that much since the holidays (though I have slept here for almost a week straight recently).
I called my landlord today (after I took the specimen I found this weekend to an exterminator to confirm my suspicions) and told him that we need an exterminator. He tried to tell me that bedbugs are the responsibility of the tenant, but then agreed to "try" to have an exterminator come this weekend. I'm concerned about the exterminator that he'll send and if he will even come. Since finding the little critter I've been reading loads about them (esp. on this site) and I tried to explain to him that exterminators have a process and lots of things need to be done, but I don't know that he understands.... I'm tempted to send him some bedbug literature. Does anyone have any advice? I don't want to call 311 just yet (how do I know my apartment is indeed infested and I didn't just bring one in from the outside?) and I'd like to send him a written letter stating the date and the agreement to have the exterminator come this weekend, but I don't know if I'm jumping the gun.
On top of all this, we've been having trouble with our hot water, so while I was checking the NYC Dept. of Housing Preservation and Development I looked up outstanding violations on the building and lo-and-behold there was a complaint filed for an apartment upstairs two years ago. Does anyone know how to tell if the complaint was resolved? There are new tenants in the supposedly infected apartment.
I am so grateful for this site, my friends and family are tired of hearing me talk about bb and whining
On a random note, I just got myself a canister vacuum and was thinking.. can they live in the hose?
Did your landlord own the building two years ago? If so, that's a sleaze move on the part of your landlord trying to pawn off responsibility on you. He knows full-well what his responsibility in this situation is. If not, he can review his violation history for a refresher.
Sending him a certified written letter is an excellent idea. Just for record-keeping and to demonstrate your seriousness about the matter. Check out the FAQs on the main blog about NYC housing laws and bedbugs. There's some language excerpted from the Met Council on Housing that you could quote to your landlord to remind him that it is his duty to eradicate bedbugs from the premises.
I think the NYC Housing website lists the status/conclusion of violations. If there's no explanation of how the violation was disposed, would that mean the violation was still open and unresolved? If yes, I'd assume the complaining tenant got fed up and moved out. The bedbug problem wasn't solved, but the tenant was no longer there to complain. That might be your landlord's M.O. Just wait the complaining tenant out, then rent the unit to the next unsuspecting tenant.
I know it would be better for you if it were just one random infertile bedbug that followed you home from another location. But don't communicate that to your landlord. Not that it would necessarily matter legally, but for the sake of negotiations, don't give him any leverage that could be construed as you accepting blame. Unfortunately, with an infestation (previously?) in the building, there's just as good a chance that it traveled to your apartment from a neighboring unit.
With vacuums & bedbugs, they advise discarding the bag after each use. I guess to prevent them from crawling back out via the hose. Expensive. I use a bagless and cleaned/sprayed the receptacle after each use. Best I could do.
Also, there's a link on the main page providing info to apartment managers.
In addition to some stern language about landlord obligations under the law, you can throw him a lifeline of hope. Yes, if he takes appropriate action, bedbugs are beatable.
Thank you so much for the helpful info persona-non-bugga. I've been on the site all day, and plan on starting the laundry and bagging procedure tomorrow and wednesday. I'll be sending my LL a letter tomorrow along with the useful info you forwarded. I also plan on writing up a flyer for the other residents in the building to make sure they look out for the critters. Thanks again!
I believe that when HPD violations are corrected, they are removed from the website. I could be wrong, but I know past violations in my own building are no longer listed. This must be why. Anything still there is probably an open violation.
If you or the tenant call 311 and there is an open violation for bed bugs, it may help you get things escalated.
The city is having a meeting on bed bugs next week. The meeting will be at Ricardos 21-01 24th avenue Tuesday 2/5/08 at 8:oo pm sharp. The number to call for a reservation is 212-863-8830. I strongly suggest you attend.
Thanks everyone for your posts. The exterminator is coming this weekend, and I'm laundering EVERYTHING and putting it in plastic bags and sending it to my parents house. The fewer items in my closet the better. I will keep you posted. Hopefully it will all work out ok.
BIA, PCO's & others - is this wise??? How can BIA be certain that bbs aren't hitching rides to the parents' house on the outside of the plastic bags?
Some ideas that could possibly increase the chances of keeping your parents' house a safe zone:
Transport the clothes to your folks' home directly from the laundromat or laundry room. Don't bring them back to your apartment where a bedbug might hitch a ride.
Double bag the clothes immediately after they're laundered and dried. Take care to make sure both the inner and outer bags have their own airtight seal. Before you bring the bag into your parents' home or a vehicle that you know for certain is bedbug-free, discard the outer bag.
Oh, and don't take the same bag used to carry the clothes TO the laundry facility to your parents' house. Discard old bag; use new bag. Or wash/dry according to laundry protocols if bag isn't disposable.
Thanks for the advice everyone, I was planning on washing/drying at the laundromat, bagging it there and putting it right in a tote in the car.
So my roommate spoke to our neighbors last night and apparently this has been a problem in the building for a few YEARS. People moved into the second floor apartment (the one with the violation) and "brought the bedbugs". The people on the 3rd floor had them as well, notified the LL and he sent an exterminator that "did nothing". They hired their own.
FINALLY got in touch with the LL last night to talk to him about the exterminator. I asked if he was a certified BB exterminator and he said "I'm sure, that's what these guys do." And I asked how he could be sure and he avoided the question. I did manage to get the exterminator's phone number so I'm going to call today and ask about his certification which I'm sure he's not going to have..... I'm not sure what to ask. Is there a place I can check to see if a person is BB certified, and not just go on his word?
I also asked the LL about the violation on the other apartment from 2 years ago and he said "oh yes, there were people living there that brought them, but they had an exterminator come in and take care of it, they also threw out a lot of their furniture". This after telling me on Monday this building has never had a problem with BB before. He also received my certified letter and apparently didn't open it because he asked what was inside. I told him a letter informing him of our bedbug problem and some information on how to get rid of them. His response was "oh".
The other thing is I asked is if the other apartments around were inspected for bugs when the one was treated and he said "I'm sure they were. I think the apartment across the hall was treated too". I explained to him if all the apartments weren't inspected and treated that they would just move around the building. He said, "I'm sure they were."
My biggest problem is that I keep telling him there's a procedure that needs to be followed to get rid of the bugs, and that if other people have them, they need to do the same, but he just isn't getting it. So like I said, I'm calling the exterminator myself today to write down what we need to do and are going to share it with the neighbors....
I am now to the point where we're contacting a lawyer to see if we can break our lease. He knows this building is infested and doesn't care. I told him that throwing out that furniture can spread the bugs around the building, if there were any attached they can fall off and spread. He told me he didn't know anything about that. And so there we are. The bugs *seem* to be contained to our closet, but I'm not taking any chances, we're getting this place exterminated and I'm getting out. I'm leaving just about everything behind. It's really depressing. I have photos of family members who have passed away in a box in my closet, just about my entire wardrobe is in that closet. I have loads of books just outside it that I bought for school, scores, cds, you name it. I'm hoping the lawyer is positive when I speak with him today. This guy's been getting away with being a slumlord too long. Wish I hadn't paid my rent this month.... Any advice on saving clothes? I've been washing and drying and putting things in plastic as per the site and have yet to be bitten or spread them (so far as I know). But I am really afraid to take ANYTHING with me. My roommate was bitten yesterday after wearing something fresh from her closet.... (it takes events to get some people spooked...).
I'm not sure, but I don't think a PCO has to be Certified in Bed Bugs...certain companies just advertise that they "specialize" in it.
In the UK there is a move to develop a bed bug code of best practice along the lines of the Australian code:
It is actually one of the most balanced documents I have seen on the subject of bed bugs, it illustrates the need for responsibility to lie with both the PCO and the occupants as well as detailing responsibilities of people in the hotel industry.
In principle the idea of certification is good but the problem is that there is no fixed approach to dealing with bed bugs. I am not sure if there is yet a fixed curriculum or set of standards that can be taught. There are seminars and courses run by some organisations but it is usually suppliers and product based.
I think the next step in specialise will be when you start seeing more teams of people who only do bed bugs. Lets face it, its not pleasent work at the best of times and not something that many will do by choice. Therefore those that have made that choice and stand the test of time should have evolved a naturally greater sucess rate. In my experience companies who do a bad job soon learn that the cost of repeating work does not make it a profitable business to be in.
I think how long have you specialised might be a stop gap until professional qualifications catch up.
Ooops its the night of the long posts.
I asked if there was "bedbug certification" when I went to the National Pest Management Association conference on bedbugs. They said there was no such industry certification yet and they did not seem to want to move in that direction. You should be able to see, however, if a pest control company has a license. A licensed PCO company has to comply with state and industry guidelines when applying pesticides and their employees have to be trained to use the pesticides appropriately. You can learn a lot here on the FAQs and posts about what to look for in a PCO. How they inspect is very important. They shouldn't treat bedbugs like they were roaches and just spray the baseboards. They should treat three times or even more, probably at a frequency of every two weeks or so. They should give you directions on how to prepare for the treatment.
I would take your stuff outside and then you can unpack it and inspect it and repack into a clean plastic sealed tub. I hope that that will work cuz that is what I am going to do with my stuff when I move. Every thing unloaded outside, unpacked, clothes to the wash ( one load at a time) and my most memorable stuff will be repacked into new plastic tubs and then stored. Those are one thing I am not willing to part with. Thats all I have left of my mom and my daughter and no bug is going to destroy those memories!!!! NO BUG!!!
BuggedinAstoria - I really do not believe inspecting alone is good enough if you are leaving a home that still has a problem. I had a bad experience with leaving my apt with a few things I had inspected and/or "disinfected," or so I thought. I subsequently gave the bugs to a good friend. I could have brought them from work, but her Orkin guy and I both think it more likely they were in something I brought from my apt that night.
So in the end, I left with nothing, friggin' nothing. I am still trying to figure out (and work up the guts) to see if I can save some of my things, which I plan to do by sealing completely, doused with poison, and putting in storage for two years. The double-bagging with duct tape will be so that my bugs don't run off into the moving truck or someone else's storage unit.
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