My landlord wants to do it himself- HELP(10 posts)
About a month ago, I started to wake up with large and swollen bites on my arms and legs. I'd get 2 or 3 bites, about once a week. They became extremely swollen, and by day two, I'd suffer from blistering and a lot of pain. I looked like a prop in a movie about the Bubonic Plague, leading me to seek treatment from four different physicians, two of them dermatologists. My reactions were so severe, the doctors immediately assumed it was a spider bite or had no guess at all.
My boyfriend did not have any visible bites.
I randomly saw a spider in my apartment two days later.
My landlord, who has a penchant for D-I-Y projects, brought in an "exterminator" (who we later learned was a friend) to investigate the source of the bites. I asked specifically for the professional to check for bed bugs, after doing some research about my bites on-line. Even though I saw a spider, I was not convinced that spiders attacked multiple times in one night. Not in Manhattan. I was told the exterminator found "nothing" and that he set off a spider bomb. A week later, the bites returned, as did the "exterminator." His response? "Check your mattress."
We did not see anything on the mattress, but I called in my own PCO for an inspection- who found (surprise!) BEDBUGS. Supposedly, we have a mild and very young infestation. I did a lot of research on this site and others, and heard almost immediately that my neighbors were experiencing similiar itchy sensations, bites, etc. We went to speak to our landlord, who told us that he had known that our apt. had bedbugs from the first visit of said "exterminator," but hadn't told us, because it was an "embarassing, touchy subject" as bedbugs are .... "attracted to semen."
(Which, I might add, was horrifying and WRONG... but maybe the highlight of my entire life.)
Obviously I am dealing with a landlord who knows a lot about bedbugs.
I have been talking and Emailing with my neighbors, and I have presented my landlord with a packet of information about bedbugs so he can hopefully realize that he is most likely going to make the situation worse. I have been engaging him in cheerful, informational talk. (Thankfully, he lives in the building.) His plans read like the "DON'T" section of this website, and he is going out to buy pestacides tomorrow, to administer as soon as two days from now. (Without speaking to our neighbors or giving them any info. about preparation.) I have asked to see the list of chemicals he plans to use in my home, for health reasons... but I wanted to hear about others' experiences with having to"educate" a landlord. I am going to refuse any treatments until we get a proper PCO to do it, but it might be a hard (painful and itchy) road. Any success stories with this kind of situation? I am trying to stay as positive as possible.
Also, other than the washing and drying and bed treatments, what is the thought about packing up one's belongings? I know there are a lot of schools of thought, and right now I don't have a PCO as a guide.
"Attracted to semen" has to be the most bizarre utterance in the history of landlords in bedbug denial.
I am so sorry!
By the way, I was going to check to see if it had been tested, because over the years many things have been tested as attractants, like earwax (!), but it was not mentioned in Siljander's article surveying the foraging ecology literature. (PDF here.)
You are a trooper for keeping a positive attitude in the face of this. You have to persist! Maybe tell him you are going to call 311?
Personally, I like the idea of letting things remain out so that bugs come out. However, in a very cluttered environment, I like the idea of (selectively) bagging instead.
Thanks, hopelessnomo! Anyone else with any ideas?
Also, we hear the CBC video linked on the sidebar of the blog is a very persuasive tool.
I would also show him the Australian Code of Practice, also linked on the sidebar, which should make him understand the magnitude of what he is undertaking and the irresponsibility of it.
Finally, I'm thinking that there could even be laws against this sort of nonsense. I would look into that.
The basic tool of persuasion might be the specter of financial loss. The increased cost of treatment if his self-treatment not only fails but makes things worse. Liability issues if there are laws he's violating by treating other units without a pest control license. Insurance premiums if he makes a terrible mess. Defecting tenants. I'm sure you can paint a picture of horrible consequences if you try.
He means well, but he can make a terrible mess of it.
Rumor has it they are bringing in a professional now, maybe even for all four units, but who knows if this "professional" has any experience with bedbugs. If they wanted to cut costs by spraying some yet-to-be-named chemical around my apartment, they are probably not going to spring the extra cash for the experts. They are now being cold and snipey towards us; but I am determined to stay positive.
I am still plagued with some concerns:
1. Even though all my neighbors have expressed wanting to "do this right," two of them are out-of-town on business for the next week. My other neighbor, who definitely has a problem with them (has mentioned bites, his apartment is 10X itchier than mine when I visited), seems to be paralyzed in fear. In person, he wants a solution, but has made no steps to get ready for treatment or talk to our landlord. I think he is daunted by the preparations- his apartment is LITERALLY floor-to-ceiling books and papers. (He is a professor, and a nutty one at that.) He has not even checked his mattress. I know a lot of PCOs offer pre-treatment services, so I am hoping our landlord hires one of those companies. I know everyone reacts to bad news in a different way- I tend to be a doer. (Hence my new neighbor Email group, my packets of information, etc., etc.)
2. Being a "doer" is exhausting. Organizing my neighbors and persuading my landlord, on top of the prep, is draining me.
3. Other than my directions from off the Internet, and some preparation sheets from PCOs I called... our building has no guidance. I have even got the feeling the landlords expect us to get everyone else ready. My neighbors aren't even in town. Will the treatments even work if our apartment is the only one "ready"?! ... Everything I've read says no.
4. With every bedbug cost (financially and emotionally), I am getting angrier and angrier that they knew we had bedbugs for a month and didn't tell us because they didn't want to EMBARASS US. In that time, I went to the doctor four times asking, "What is this?" I had limbs that got completely swollen. On two occasions, my knuckles disappeared because my hands looked like balloon animals. What about those copays? Should I take that out of next month's rent?
5. My boyfriend and I have a $900 dry cleaning bill. (!!!) Manhattan dry cleaning is expensive. We have no car; can't drag infected Ziplocs all over the universe. Purged everything we could. Will wash everything we can. Will be wary of buying any clothes that cannot be dried for two hours from now on.
6. I have a $900 dry cleaning bill.
7. I have a $900 dry cleaning bill- what if this doesn't work?
8. My boyfriend's parent's have an apt. 5 blocks away. We will store our clean clothes there. Because of my reactions, before we had our own inspection and was told it was bedbugs, the PCO told us to sleep somewhere else. We slept there for two nights, before I got sick of "commuting" and started sleeping in my bed again. Petrified we spread it to them. Should I even store my clean clothes there in Ziplocs???
On the bright side, I haven't had a bite in a week!
I am thankful for this website, part of me still feels guilty for being so overwhelmed.
I am disposing of some clothes, and I put them in oversized zip bags, which I have then wrapped in duct tape (to make it harder to open), and have attached signs about bedbugs on the outside. I will then put those ziplocs in larger garbage bags, and disguise the clothes inside by throwing kitchen trash on top of each bag. I am going to put the trash out JUST BEFORE the collectors come. I have this choreographed. I wanted the city to make a special trip, but they won't do it. I can't afford a waste management company. I am taking every precaution not to spread it, but the truth of the matter is that there are some people are desperate enough to dig through the trash, rip through BedBug signs and duct tape, and wear the infected clothing. Tht definitely puts my $900 dry cleaning bill into perspective.
Still managing to have fun, trying to make it feel like camping. Remembered I hate camping.
Thanks for the advice- I need it!
I suggest you send a private message to Bugalew and ask him/her to refer you to a person who offers pre-treatment help with cleaning and decluttering. This service would be ideal for your neighbor who is emotionally paralyzed by his infestation. This person has been used by many and has a kind of fabled reputation. If your neighbor could arrange this, it would be fantastic.
It gets better once treatments are under way, don't lose sight of that.
If it were me, I would store my bagged clothes in my own apartment. Wondering whether you are infesting someone else will just add to your anxiety. However, I'm sure many people have done this, carefully, and not had an incident. Use your judgment. Also, many people don't know bedbugs like you do when you get them. So, asking such people whether it's ok, whether they understand the risk, in order to get their consent, is tricky. They may just want to help and still not fully understand. And yet, these are your in-laws, if you can't turn to them for help, you will feel so alone. I guess what I'm saying is you should not feel like you are alone in this, but you should be cautious all the same.
Thank you, hopelessnomo!
The landlords have been doing research on the Internet. I think they're coming around. Maybe even an end in sight!
Great to hear!
I just heard the same thing, that they are going to start fining landlords. Yeah
I thought our landlord was never going to do anything because I live in HUD funded housing. They have been in my building since Jan. and I didn't get them until late June. I have called everbody on them, the news the board of health. I even wrote several e-mails to HUD. So, finally maybe I am almost out of the woods.
That's good OntheEdge, one pretty much has to be persistent where bedbugs are concerned. Get on everyone's case. Politely but firmly.
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