Co-op Board Hysteria?(10 posts)
I need to know my legal rights, but our story is the opposite of most. I believe we’re being forced into unnecessary, costly exterminating efforts by panicked residents and opportunistic PCOs.
First let me say that I am in no way downplaying how horrible it is to have bedbugs or the real suffering that so many are going through. Or how hard it is to get rid of them, that they're hard to see, or that it's easy to be in denial about having them. I am well educated on the subject (now!), and this situation just doesn't feel right.
About six weeks ago a resident in our building alerted the Board that she thought she had bed bugs. Trying to be proactive, they sent budbug dogs in to EVERY apartment in the building. This dog/handler came out saying that something like 60% of the apartments had “hits” and had to be exterminated. When this man’s results proved suspect, we had another company with dogs come in and do the sweep again about 2 weeks later. This time, 29 out of approx. 70 units had hits - and the results in no way matched the first sweep.
Now, here’s what makes me really uncomfortable. Everyone who had a “hit” on this second inspection is being strong-armed into having their apartment treated for bedbugs - which, according to the info sent out by the PCO, involves sealing most of their belongings in plastic for NINE MONTHS - even though they have NO BITES, and cannot find a SINGLE BEDBUG, alive or dead, in their apartment. Even though the building is paying for the extermination, the resident has to pay to have all of their clothing cleaned, all of the storage materials, and even the purchase of a particular kind of vacuum, etc. - I expect it can easily run over $1,000 per family. Not to mention 9 months of having a barely livable apartment.
Does anyone know if the residents can make up their own minds about the course of action to be taken, rather than have the board decide for us? Can they force us to exterminate when there’s no physical evidence (bites or otherwise) of infestation? We’ve been told that if we fail to comply, they can take us to court. Lawyers out there, is that true?
The basic premise the board is going under is that they want to completely eradicate bedbugs from the building. But even if they could (which is by no means certain) next week someone goes on a business trip and brings home a few more, and what then? Even if I agreed with their approach, surely this kind of massive extermination effort is not a tenable solution in the long term.
WOW!! Sounds like a nice payday for what seems to be many false positive hits. I'm speechless but I do have my thoughts about the problem. You can do mild baseboard applications with liquid residuals with virtually no prep work to units joining those who are confirmed "infested". When I say confirmed I'm talking about a hit from a K9 and then the handler finding the actual bugs that gave the alarm. I find it hard to believe that many apartments have a problem... Without that many complaints from the residents.
Buying bed bug tools from companies to eradicate a problem is a joke for me as well.. If you pay for eradication it should be just that, problem eliminated! Not a sales opportunity. Scary, good luck
I am no expert and perhaps your co-op board is over reacting - but at least they are reacting. Perhaps your board could come up with a reasonable plan i.e: rules on disposal of furniture, inform all residents on signs/symptoms, a notification and tracking plan etc. prevention tips: ie how to handle luggage when returning from trips - maybe the building could buy one packtite and ask (not require)residents to use it upon return.
Sounds like a panicked but responsible building. Where is it I would love to live there.
buggardnyc - 5 minutes ago »
Where is it I would love to live there.
I very much appreciate your reticence to treat and incur the expenses given the results of the detection dogs varied so much.
If I were you, I might try to find out if the board would accept the opinion of another bed bug dog. I know that given what you've been through, you're probably not likely to want to pay money to hire yet another dog that could be a scam. But if you asked around here, I'm betting in NYC you could get some good recs for well-trained, professional dog-handler teams--maybe even one that uses a pair of dogs so that if the first dog alerts, the second which has been in isolation is brought in for confirmation.
That might be the best compromise. Given how people are freaking out about bed bugs, I would hate to see you get scapegoated if the treatment of other apartments doesn't work. If you were willing to bring in a dog handler team you trusted, that ought to be just as good as treating in their eyes.
And if you asked here, I'm sure people would help you find recs about good dog handler teams in your area.
I wish we had better policies in place to protect people like you from overly panicked landlords and boards as much as renters with landlords who will only hire professionals who don't know what they are doing.
With a K9 it should be very very easy for the PCO to provide physical evidence of BedBugs in the apartments with hits. Tell the K9 BedBug professional to provide physical evidence of bedbug activity... With a K9 I'd think that would be easy as hell... no!?
I'm not a pco,just someone who had opportunity to watch,read and learn bb habits.Since it's common knowledge that they do get into the wall voids,piping conduits,ect..to travel.I beleive a good first step would be to dust wall voids and common entries into apts and then caulk and seal these same entries.The dusts such as drione are effective for a very long time undisturbed(and they wouldn't be disturbed in these spaces),so this also gives long term preventitive measures against future infestations that may periodically be introduced via other exposure.Treat the adjoining apts. to the originally infested lightly on the inside if there are hits w/ the dogs and a visual.But I think a building wide approach to dusting wall voids and caulking and sealing should offer the most protection and should not be that costly.It takes only a small amount of time to drill small holes,insert the dust,close the holes,move to the next room.You can have the super do the caulking and sealing,too,as long as he is sure to do a very careful job of it.These bugs can have no gaps as they are extremely thin and can fit into a cc width hole.I personally would do this instead of trying to nail down a precise number from additional k-9 inspections as it offers a long term certificate of inhabitability for the future bb incidents that may occur.If someone does acquire a future infestation the fear that they can and will travel to adjacent apts.(and arrive in good health) is given an edge in your favor if dusts and sealing are already in place.Imho, a very wise proactive,preventive move.Good luck
Scamwary: If you're still active...how did this work out?
While one certainly would like to be proactive in regard to bed bugs I have seen a number of cases in which Boards have been hyper active. I have also consulted with several in similar cases
in which one person suspects they may have and suddenly 40% of the apts have despite having no other evidence or indication. A big problem here is with the K9 handlers. Inquire as to the alerts and inspect further your self. You might consider passive monitors such as insect monitors, climb ups or even NightWatch units. This can be a most difficult situation and boards tend to over react.
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