How Did You Tell Your Landlord? Neighbors?(7 posts)
Sorry in advance for the length of this post. I've been lurking for a while learning all I could about bed bugs and prevention. Now that I've potentially gone from spectator to unwilling participant, I guess I have something to say ...
We recently moved to an apartment in NYC, and although I haven't actually seen a bed bug, I began waking up with unexplained itchiness and small bites about two weeks ago. Now, because we were moving from an area where these bugs weren't a major problem to the epicenter (and because I have always been somewhat of a bugophobe), I proceeded to learn everything I could and take precautions to prevent them.
I encased all mattresses and box springs (except the master bedroom box spring), used DE around the bed at the old place just in case, purchased my own brand new moving pads to give to movers rather than use theirs, quarantined bags and shoes worn outside, placed nothing on the bed, encased pillows, etc.
I had a plan. I would NEVER get bedbugs.
I called the management company at the new place about a week before moving in and asked if they had ever had any reports of bedbugs in the building. I received an unequivocal "NO". Now I could breathe a little easier. So, the day before moving day comes, and I call to schedule a time to pick up the key. At the end of our conversation, the property manager says that she asked her supervisor about bedbugs and that they had two reports in the past, but they were "taken care of". I asked if it was my apartment or anywhere near my apartment. She said no, that the previous tenants were very "clean". I mentioned that cleanliness really made no difference, and she agreed.
I almost couldn't believe my ears. I had mitigated every risk that I could, but the greatest risk was moving into an infested apartment. Of course, I was told that the problem wasn't anywhere near my apartment, but was that the case? Where they really gone? And once in the building, I know that the little b**tards can travel like the Federal Express.
Moving day came and went. Another week passed-no problems.
Then I saw them.
Three bites in a row on my ankle and another slightly above. I didn't see or feel these until I came in after being out all day, but well before bedtime. These couldn't be bed bug bites. Nearly another week went by with nothing. It must have been a mosquito or a gnat or something.
Then, I had trouble sleeping one night. Kept waking up itchy. Turned on light, but saw nothing. The next night - same thing. I thought to myself, "they're no bed bugs here, that's just crazy".
I did not believe my own lying thoughts, but denial is a powerful thing. The next morning, after another less than restful night's sleep, I was drinking my morning coffee, when I felt a bump on the back of my left arm.
S**t! This can't be happening.
I called my husband who was on the way home from a trip with the kids. "It's nothing. Don't worry", he said. Whatever, dude.
Since then, I've gotten several new bites, and I've seen what appears to be blood and/or fecal staining on my new, white sheets and pillow encasements. We've dismantled the bed. Torn the room apart. Looked with a flashlight. We find no eggs, live bugs, or other signs of a harborage. Worse, I'm starting to see the same bite marks on my youngest child. I know they're here, but I have no absolute proof. I bet years ago, people were sent to the "crazy house" for talking about bugs that no one else could see.
Anyway, I need to tell the landlord, but I'm not quite sure how. If we have them, I'll need to talk to the neighbors. I'm afraid that because we just moved in, everyone will assume that we brought them. I hate the stigma.
Based on reading the forum, I hope to get in touch with KillerQueen this coming week for an inspection.
Any advice on how to approach the subject with landlord? Neighbors? How did the experience go? Were they receptive or did they treat you like lepers - especially neighbors?
Thanks folks, and thanks for all the info on this forum.
Note: I edited this post to add other bed bug signs that I forgot to include.
Any other signs besides the bites? Fecal stains. shedded skins, etc? Plenty of threads here on what to search for.
But if you want to go ahead with the inspection now, personally I would have an outside inspection with someone like KQ before notifying either the landlord or other tenants. No sense alarming anyone for no reason
One could argue to to let the landlord's PCO inspect, but from what I've read here the odds are you will get an inferior inspection to KQ. That said, you could have the landlord inspect first, and then call KQ if you feel they didn't do a good job. That's a money issue.
If KQ's inspection shows bed bugs, then notify building management before the neighbors. Best if they take the lead rather than a scattered effort. If management is not take willing to care of the problem -- i.e. inspect/treat neighbors -- then at that point you might speak to neighbors.
But first things first. And really, given the time of the year, you may not have bed bugs at all.
Also, there are a couple of relatively inexpensive bed bug monitors on the market -- passive and active. See links to right for US Bed Bugs. The Bed Bug Beacon (active monitor) works best when no one is sleeping in the room. A good choice if you are going away for a few days. The BBAlert Passive (Passive Monitor) works best when you are sleeping in the same room. Given your concern about bed bugs, these monitors would seem to be a good investment regardless of what the inspection shows up.
Thanks for the advice, Richard. I do plan to have the inspection first, and I'll definitely look into the bug monitors.
I forgot to mention that I have seen what appears to be blood and/or fecal stains on my brand new, white sheets and pillow encasements. Trust me, I've spent many hours reading about signs, prevention, etc. on this and other sites. Until I saw the stains, I was not really convinced. I have found something that may be a skin casting, but it really doesn't look like the pictures I found online. I saved it just in case.
I certainly hope that it is some other insect. I've had reactions to mosquitos, gnats, biting flies, etc. in the past, and these marks don't look like any of that. They are not the bed bug welts I typically read about either. More like raised, red bumps that are larger than a pimple.
I forgot to mention that I have seen what appears to be blood stains on my brand new, white sheets and pillow encasements.
You might find this link helpful, although like too many things in life, it often turns out inconclusive
Thanks for the link. Looked at the pictures, and my blood stains kind of look like both fresh stains and a processed blood meal. I know they aren't old, because the ones on the sheets showed up the night they were freshly laundered, and the stains on the pillow showed up the very next day after the new encasement was placed on it.
And the verdict is...inconclusive:)
I don't buy the stigma thing. Just be up front, call the landlord, go door-to-door to the neighbors and get it over with.
The more you think it's a stigma to have something that's essentially no fault and untraceable the more so you'll feel it.
If it's just a thing that happens, treat it that way.
I agree with leland.
Don't be ashamed. Go speak to your neighbours! Some of them might have them and not know, it may turn out they are a problem for a long time, etc. Just put your mind at ease.
Also definitely write a complaint letter to the management and get them to cover some of your costs, as they seem to have lied to you (partial truth is still a lie) about their previous bedbug problems.
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